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Finally, a way to measure the business impact of PR

We know that successful B2B PR is centered on storytelling that fosters meaningful engagement and demonstrates business value at every touch point in the buying cycle, regardless of channel. That’s why we are taking a new approach to PR measurement to include earned, owned and paid media metrics.

B2B PR metrics are no longer just about brand awareness. Since B2B PR is most impactful when you deploy a strong and consistent, customer-centric brand message at each stage of the buyer’s journey, we need to align and measure KPIs at each touch point to better understand what’s working and what’s not. Start with expanding your KPIs and incorporate website analytics to hold PR accountable to the same metrics as digital marketing channels.

  • Placements & impressions – These are still important in assessing the reach of your brand narrative at the top of the funnel.
  • Prominence – A simple product mention is not as valuable as a full 1,500-word bylined article by one of your company’s subject matter experts, so it’s important to measure the prominence of each individual piece of coverage.
  • Sentiment – Is the media positioning your brand in a positive or negative way?
  • Share of voice – How often is your brand mentioned compared to your top competitors?
  • Organic social shares of earned media placements – Are your earned media placements driving engagement on social media channels further extending their reach?

Incorporate web analytics
The metrics above don’t truly measure PR’s impact on the business like you can with digital marketing. That’s why it’s important to leverage web analytics for PR measurement to answer: 1.) are earned media placements motivating prospects to engage on your website and, 2.) out of those who engage, are they buying from you? Start by tracking the following KPIs:

  1. Referral traffic – How many referral sessions are generated from earned media backlinks? Make sure to properly tag links in contributed content and press releases so you know exactly which publications, articles or press releases are driving referral traffic. If you have a marketing automation system, tagging links also ensures any new leads that come in through PR are attributed for.
  2. Spikes in direct and organic search traffic – Some publications remove backlinks in articles and often readers won’t click hyperlinks, but instead will search for or go directly to a company’s website. When you get coverage in a publication with a high number of unique visitors per month or perhaps make a big announcement, add annotations to your web analytics so you can watch for spikes in organic and direct traffic that can be attributed back to PR efforts.
  3. Goal completions – Goals in web analytics are important calls to action that indicate buying intent on your website. A goal could be filling out a form, clicking contact us, or finding a rep – you define the goals, and web analytics platforms can tracks those actions and where the user came from, including earned media backlinks.

These metrics are just a stepping stone for measuring the full impact of PR. If you’re truly integrating earned, owned and paid media channels with high-value thought leadership content throughout the funnel, then you should be assessing the narrative at each touch point. For example, at the bottom of funnel with leads and marketing qualified leads, through the sales cycle at the opportunity stage and eventually close/won sales. For more on KPIs further in the funnel, read our blog post “Top KPIs for evaluating B2B PR effectiveness”.

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