What does public relations success look like? How can I demonstrate the ROI of PR activities? While impressions are often the gold standard for reporting public relations results, this quantitative measure can be very vague – especially to C-suite executives or marketers without a PR background. What does 300 million media impressions mean? How did it move the needle for my business? Here are five ways to expand reporting for earned media coverage to help provide meaningful insights into how public relations is affecting a brand’s business:


Do you know what the Barcelona Principles are?  83% of PR pros are not familiar with these PR industry measurement standards. Learn more.

Quality, Not Just Quantity

Some may say that there’s “no such thing as bad publicity.” But, when evaluating the success of a campaign, bad press typically does not result in consumer engagement that will meet business objectives. When a campaign delivers hundreds of millions of earned media impressions, it can be helpful to create a quality-scoring algorithm to demonstrate with one number that a campaign is delivering quality impressions and achieving business objectives. For a PR program designed to raise product awareness and drive sales, some scoring factors to consider might be key message, photo inclusion, where to buy information or an endorsement. Another way to demonstrate placement quality is Cision’s automated media impact and prominence scoring. This scoring favors top-tier outlets and placements in which the brand is mentioned in a headline or frequently throughout an article.

Measure Competitive Share of Voice

Marketers always keep a pulse on their market share, so why not apply that same approach to media share of voice? Currently, only 33% of PR pros measure positioning versus the competition, according to a survey by Ragan. If you can demonstrate that there was an increase in share of voice in earned media coverage post-campaign, you can demonstrate the effectiveness of a campaign at stealing media share from the competition. Sysomos is a great tool for assessing competitive share of voice since it combines social, blogs and news all within one easy to navigate platform.

Compare the CPM of PR Campaigns

The PR industry has been seeking measurement industry standards for quite some time and CPM (cost per thousand impressions) has often been debated. It is a great equalizer metric to demonstrate how efficiently PR campaigns (both big & small) reached a target audience. It also helps compare year-over-year performance and the efficiency of PR against other marketing tactics. Based on our experience, we at Hunter PR frequently use a benchmark of $5.00 or less as an indicator of a successful product publicity program, whereas, brand-building programs and those targeting niche media oftentimes have a higher CPM of $5.00 - $10.00. In general, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all model to demonstrate PR success, but blending CPM with other key metrics yields a report with actionable insights.

Track Consumer Engagement Through Website Conversions

With tools like Google Analytics and trackable link shortening services, it is possible to expand media results beyond reach, helping demonstrate that consumers are moving through the marketing funnel beyond awareness to consideration. According to a survey by Ragan, 79% of PR pros track web traffic and page views, but to further measure engagement, it’s important to observe what people actually do once they visit a website. Do they sign up for a newsletter, visit the where to buy page or bounce? To help glean insights, make sure to first set up events and goals in Google Analytics. By setting up goal conversions, you’ll be able to demonstrate how PR, through earned media placements, is contributing to engagement beyond just web visits and ultimately turning consumers into potential customers.

Conduct Surveys To Measure Behavioral Impact

Without the ability to do marketing mix modeling, another method to measure a PR program’s impact on consumer behavior is to survey them. You could include questions in a brand health study or conduct a pre/post or an unaided/aided survey to measure how exposure to PR placements changed purchase intent or brand reputation. While one-off custom surveys can be very costly, there are numerous research companies that offer creative solutions for gauging impact on target audiences. For example, Vision Critical allows you to deploy omnibus surveys to a highly targeted audience at a similar cost to a general population omnibus survey.

has a roster of specialists with a wealth of experience in creating and executing customized marketing communications programs that integrate tactics across traditional media relations, social and digital media, multi-cultural marketing, events and integrations.  Our knowledge in these areas is wide and deep, and leveraged by our account teams in service to our clients.

For more information about Hunter PR Contact:

Samara Farber Mormar
Business Development

Specialized Service Practice Leaders:

Social and Digital Media
Donetta Allen

Hispanic Strategies and Solutions
Annette Gonzalez-Malkin

Entertainment Media & Partnerships Department
Samantha Turtle

National Media
Sandy Bustamante

Melissa Todisco