The Ultimate Guide to Measuring PR Success

measuring pr success

PR in the B2B world can be an afterthought for marketers. 

Often, the joke is “PR stands for press release, right?” But B2Bs with that mentality risk losing out on the enormous benefits of PR—like increased credibility, trust, and SEO benefits. 

In fact, with the majority of B2B executives (84%) using tools like social media to make purchase decisions and 92% of B2B buyers using it to engage with sales industry thought leaders, PR should be at the forefront of every B2B marketer’s mind. Why? Well, what will those execs and buyers find when they search for your brand on social media? 

Will it be exclusively owned media (content your brand creates)? Or will it be a mix of owned and earned media, illustrating that your brand has expertise to share AND the credibility to be recognized by industry publications and thought leaders? 

The latter is only possible if you invest in a B2B PR strategy. Your peers are doing it. The big guys, whose market share you’re trying to chip away at, are doing it. You need to be in the game too. 

So what does PR entail?

  • Mentions and quotes in industry publications discussing the latest trends
  • Original contributed content across your clients’ verticals, proving that you understand your clients’ and prospects’ industries 
  • Podcast interviews discussing your business, your industry, and your intimate knowledge of the market and where it’s heading

A combination of these elements and more makes for a robust PR campaign that can help drive business and differentiate you from your fiercest competitors. But once you get those hits, how do you measure their impact on your business? 

Often, the biggest challenge in PR is finding the right mix of metrics to show a tangible business impact. Your CFO will give you a pat on the back for your CEO’s snappy quote in a business journal, but at the end of the day, what does that look like for the bottom line?

Related Reading: The Ultimate Guide to B2B PR

How to measure your PR campaign’s ROI

At Zen Media, our experienced team of PR practitioners knows how to create and manage PR campaigns that move the needle in a variety of tangible metrics. 

No two PR campaigns are the same because no two businesses are the same. With that in mind, at Zen, we have a customized framework that identifies quantifiable metrics, along with the qualitative aspects of PR, to give clients clarity about how PR works and how to track its success. This arms our clients with the business argument when asked “what is our PR doing for us?” The answer: a lot. 

This framework can work for you even if you aren’t a client of Zen. (But really, why aren’t you? Let’s chat.)

If eyeballs on your brand is what you want—take a look at how to measure those increased eyeballs gained through earned media

Quantifiable PR Activity

A lot of PR is timing dependent. The newsworthiness of topics, reporter availability, breaking news, and the ability of your spokespeople to be available and provide expertise can impact when your stories hit the news. 

At Zen, we quantify all PR efforts on a monthly basis to help ensure that all activity is captured, including:  

  • Media Pitches
  • Interviews
  • Press Releases
  • Podcasts
  • Contributed Articles

On top of that activity, we dive deeper into what that activity has provided

Understanding what your press hits, podcast appearances, and contributed articles provide is key to understanding its value and calculating ROI. 

It’s important to pick the metrics most relevant to your brand. For instance, if your brand is relatively unknown and/or has never had “bad press,” sentiment may not be an important metric to track. If that’s the case, you can skip sentiment in favor of something that is relevant to your business—such as share of voice. There are plenty of measurements that help illustrate the results that earned media bring—the question is which of these measurements matter to your brand?

  • AVE (ad equivalency value)
  • Domain Authority (the strength of the websites where your earned media appears)
  • SOV
  • Sentiment (positive or negative)
  • Engagements (what’s the social media interest in your story)
  • Pieces of Earned Media Coverage (volume count)
  • Journalist Reach 
  • UVMs (visitors to the websites where your business is included)

(PS: Beyond earned media, as a client of Zen, we help with award submissions, potential speaking engagements, social media amplification, and more—to further build brand awareness and credibility.)

Qualitative Analysis

In addition to the above metrics, it’s important for marketers to take into consideration what is impacting your earned media performance. 

  • What are your competitors talking about and where should you be positioned in that conversation?
  • Were there instances where media opportunities were missed due to an executive who couldn’t turn around an interview in time? 
  • What do we think is coming down the pike, and what can we get ahead of before our competitors?

The last piece of the puzzle is the tangential results that come with an increased media presence. While the lines may not be parallel, an increase in earned media will likely show a similar trajectory in:

Branded search increase: Through tools like SEMRush and Google Search Console, marketers can measure the impact of PR on brand-related searches. This will result in gaining more Share of Search and Share of Voice.

SEO benefits: PR, if done correctly, will positively impact your SEO. Over time your domain authority will increase, which helps your site rank for more keywords and continues to establish your website as authoritative in the eyes of search engines like Google. Very often, PR from one publication is picked up by other syndication sites, spreading your message and positively impacting your overall B2B SEO efforts and rankings—especially if the original press contains a link to your website. The more websites link to your site, the better your site ranking will be and the more traffic you’ll generate.

Sales-enabled PR shortens the sales cycle: Sales-enabled PR creates demand, nurtures leads, and drives revenue by intertwining PR throughout the entire sales cycle. 

How? According to Forrester, prospects make an average of 27 touchpoints before they convert (and that number is going up). On top of that, we know that B2B buyers spend 70% of their journey doing independent research online and talking with peers before they ever bother to talk to a salesperson. In fact, many prospects make their decision before a company is even aware they exist. 

Related Reading: How PR Shortens the Sales Cycle

From this data we know two things: 

  1. The faster your client can make those touchpoints, the faster they will move down the sales funnel, shortening the sales cycle. 
  2. The more credibility, trust, and informative content you can put in front of prospects, the more likely they will independently choose to buy from your brand. 

PR accomplishes both of these goals: 

Goal 1: Speeding up touchpoints

Through consistent media coverage, your brand will have many opportunities to make touchpoints with its audience. As this coverage sparks interest, your audience will be more apt to explore your brand, meaning they will search for your brand by name or for topics related to your brand. Because PR helps boost SEO, your prospects’ searches will direct them to your owned media where they can make many more valuable touchpoints. Plus, by using social media amplification, marketers expand the reach and life of each press hit, enabling many more touchpoints.

Related Reading: 10 Simple Ways to Use SEO to Amplify PR Hits in 2022

Goal 2: Building credibility

Strong media coverage in reputable industry publications, top-tier press, industry-specific podcasts, and more will help create frequency bias, wherein your audience is more inclined to notice your brand and seek it out. Plus—due to human nature—the more familiar your brand becomes, the more likely people will be compelled to trust it. 

On top of this, third-party validation is a huge driver of credibility—we all believe an impartial journalist more than a brand’s own advertising. 

How long does it take for PR to make an impact?

So you’ve determined what matters to your brand, and you’ve begun your PR efforts—either internally with a PR professional on your team, or by outsourcing to an agency. 

So when will you start seeing measurable results?

Many PR agencies claim that public relations takes roughly a year for measurable results. This is largely because traditional PR stops at getting press hits. They pitch to the media, get a hit, your brand gets a flurry of attention, and then that attention dies out, and the process begins again. With traditional PR, a year is a reasonable timeline to see measurable growth in SOV, sentiment, domain authority, and more. 

But we don’t practice traditional PR at Zen Media. We use a sales-enabled PR model that leverages all the strengths of traditional PR, along with digital pathways and a growth-oriented mindset to help each press hit last longer and reach further. Our common PR contracts are only 6 months—though many of our clients stay with us much longer—because sales-enabled PR works much faster and makes a larger impact. 

Essentially, sales-enabled PR takes less time and gets better results. 

After a few months of executing a comprehensive sales-enabled PR strategy, you will have plenty of data to analyze, that’s why we track quantifiable metrics monthly and qualitative metrics quarterly. 

By using our comprehensive PR ROI Framework, you have the ability to answer your company’s decision-makers—both in words and in data when they ask “What is the point of PR?” Want to team up to make your brand’s PR the best it can be? Let’s chat.


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