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July 05, 20244 min read

How communicators can demonstrate impact (beyond coverage volumes)

It’s no secret that traditional PR metrics, such as media mentions and coverage volumes are a good start to assessing your media profile, but this approach focuses on quantity rather than quality, and can fall short in measuring the actual detailed outcomes of PR activity at an advanced level. While it’s easy to just count the number of times a brand is mentioned in the media, this doesn’t provide insights into the impact of those mentions. Understanding what actions achieve specific outcomes requires a more nuanced approach, ensuring that the true impact of PR efforts is accurately captured and communicated. 

The challenge lies in demonstrating the tangible benefits in a way that resonates with PR practitioners and, most critically, organisational leadership, which determines the budget and resources given to Comms teams. In short, PR ROI is tricky to measure and even trickier to communicate to those who haven’t spent years studying and practising PR. 

 

The Concept of Slow PR

Slow PR emphasises high-impact strategies that foster long-term brand loyalty instead of chasing short-term interest. This approach ensures sustained audience engagement and deeper relationships. By focusing on quality interactions and meaningful connections, slow PR helps build a robust and loyal audience over time. Unlike the rapid (sometimes unfortunately fleeting) engagement of typical high-volume PR campaigns, slow PR aims to create lasting impressions. This strategy not only enhances brand reputation and recognition but also drives genuine customer loyalty and long-term business success. 

Think instead of a one-off sponsored segment on Sunrise, building a long-term relationship with a relevant publication or journalist that comes to you for comments on industry developments, policy, and news - thereby associating your brand with high-level thought leadership within your field and fostering trust and authority in your brand with their audience. 

 

Beyond coverage volumes - key metrics to measure PR impact 

To truly measure PR impact, consider the following key metrics:

 

1. Quality of Coverage

Look at the domain authority of the sources covering your brand. High-quality coverage from reputable sources can have a greater impact than numerous mentions from less credible ones. Our media monitoring platform, uses Moz domain authority tracking charts to identify and evaluate the authority of these sources, ensuring that the coverage is not only widespread but also influential.

2. Audience Relevance

Ensure that the targeted audience aligns with the brand’s goals. Evaluate whether the chosen journalists and publications are effective in attracting an audience that resonates with your brand. It’s not enough to reach a large audience; the audience must be relevant and engaged for your brand's message to make a truly significant impact. Journalist databases and media release tools, like Outreach, allow you to search and filter journalists and publications to help you find the right ones to get your message out. 

3. Audience Interaction

Analyse the interplay between social and earned media. Observe how traditional coverage influences social media engagement and vice versa. Understanding this dynamic can help optimise content strategies and amplify message reach. For instance, a partnership with an influencer might spark social media engagement that gets picked up by outlets. Or an article mention could bring traffic to your social channels, creating a multiplier effect that enhances the overall impact. 

4. Key Message Tracking

A new product announcement, a new CMO, or a freshly launched ad campaign - which is responsible for the uptick in mentions? Measure how your different key messages are received across different media channels. Media intelligence can help you track the prominence of key messages in media coverage, allowing you to adjust strategies accordingly.

5. Website Traffic

By using a media monitoring tool that integrates with Google Analytics, you can measure the website traffic that was driven by PR coverage that contains backlinks to your website. Other website traffic metrics such as referral traffic from media coverage, time spent on site, and conversion rates can be used to gauge the effectiveness of PR efforts in driving valuable website interactions.

 

Proving PR ROI

A data-driven approach is essential to demonstrating the tangible benefits of PR activity to leadership for justifying and increasing PR budgets. Calculating potential audience reach (PAR) can provide a tangible measure of PR’s worth, translating media coverage into how many eyes your brand is getting in front of. This metric offers a way to quantify PR efforts in straightforward terms, making it easier to demonstrate ROI to stakeholders.

 

In Conclusion

Communicating with your audience has never been easier yet simultaneously more complex, with more outlets than ever, both owned and unowned to get your message across. With this diversification of channels, PR measurement calls for a much deeper understanding of media intelligence. Quality media intelligence transcends just looking at coverage volumes, focusing instead on the substance and impact of media interactions to demonstrate true value. 

As communicators, it is crucial to move beyond traditional metrics and embrace a holistic approach that highlights the effectiveness and strategic value of PR activities. Accurate, reliable, and realtime media monitoring tools, like Streem's, capture these metrics and display them in easy-to-understand dashboards that can be customised based on your brand's needs.

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