how to measure PR

Having a PR presence has been a necessity for many companies, large or small, for years. But how do you know if the kind of activity that you are doing, is hitting the right mark and how can you measure PR properly? Whether you are a PR professional or client, it’s important to get your PR strategy together and your objectives clearly outlined – that includes having the correct measurements in place.

Measuring allows for analysis into your customer base and target markets, it can dissect what PR is working and, more importantly, what isn’t and shows to your customer that – if you’re willing to react positively – you are making changes to benefit them.

There’s no harm in identifying something that doesn’t work and trying new things in your PR communications to make it better either – in fact it should resonate with your customers because they will feel they are being listened to and their needs are being met through improvements you make. What’s a good way to not rest on your laurels when it comes to measuring PR? Use the ‘Os’ metrics – outputs, outtakes and outcomes.



From press releases sent to media, to social content and events held, PR outputs are exactly what you have put out to get your messages across. Measuring proactive and reactive communications can include analysing whether you met a journalist’s deadline to hitting the mark for time-sensitive PR pieces.

An output is the way in which you get your key messages into the hands of the right people. To measure this, you should be calculating the amount – and type – of coverage achieved, the target audience and tone of voice.

Evaluating outputs can happen organically or through media monitoring tools and it is seen as a basic form of measurement. But they are so important to the overall PR strategy and how you analyse to improve outputs.


This focuses on who was reached against what was produced with your PR. It’s about raising awareness of an issue and the audience engagement it generates.

Measure PR outtakes by the publication’s circulation and reach – both on and offline – attendance and feedback from an event you’ve held, social media interaction from likes and retweets to shares, as well as web hits and views and downloads – whether a link to a free webinar or an e-book PDF. Outtakes allow for PR professionals or clients to work on things and improve so that you hit your desired goals.

A final outcome too, as controversial as it might sound, is to not to always be gunning to turn a reader into a customer, it’s often a long game when it comes to PR. So, think about building an overall picture and building that brand awareness using outtakes measurements to improve communications.

Eventually, if the PR messaging hits the right notes with people and answers an issue they might have which makes their lives considerably better, they should turn into customers.


The final ‘O’ is probably the hardest to measure but the most sophisticated in PR. Outcomes analysis gives PR professional or clients the tools to dig deep into successful, and unsuccessful, outcomes and adapt accordingly. Outcomes cover a breadth of ways to analyse but can really build up an important picture when you are developing a brand to attract the personas and ideal customer base.

Measuring outcomes can mean several things from analysis of who, and how many, voted in your polls to the overall purchase of a product or service. The best kind of PR outcome is, of course, to turn leads into retained customers who will, in-turn, become advocates for your brand and raise awareness – ultimately doing the work for you.

Recommendations – from testimonials on your website to reviews on TripAdvisor – are a fantastic way to measure the effective advocacy of your PR and communications. If you get endorsements or ambassadors, that’s even better, so make sure you continue to evaluate what your customers are saying. Return on investment (ROI) is, for businesses, the perfect measurement for whether your communications have been successful, and it’s a good way for clients and PR professionals to rubberstamp why their outputs were on point, or way off the mark.

Overall, get your PR strategy and objectives in place as well as the correct resources and tools to measure your communications effectively and you should be creating a strong picture to help your client reach their ideal target market.

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