There has always been blurred lines and confusion as to what public relations (PR) is and how the aims and activities impact a business. It’s vital that businesses have clarity and understanding when it comes to digital PR and, more importantly, how to measure the effectiveness and success of this activity.
With on-going enhancements and evolutions in technology, everything is becoming increasingly more digitalised, and the PR industry is changing to keep up with this. Whilst traditional PR is still a valuable and viable marketing tactic, digital PR is rapidly emerging and is making measuring PR success in this area a lot easier than it used to be – which also makes it easier to build your case as to why PR is such a valuable activity to the c-suite. Gone are the days of AVE, reach and circulation – these numbers are gradually disappearing whilst solid metrics are becoming increasingly important. Enter domain rating, backlinks, referring domains and organic traffic.
Whilst there are many activities involved within digital PR, alongside many ways to measure PR success, it’s vital to stay focused on the overall business objectives. Whether it’s enhancing brand awareness or creating leads and conversions, digital PR goals and aims should be aligned with overall business goals. Digital PR can be used to:
- help drive sales
- help drive traffic
- build brand awareness
- drive engagement/shares
- build links, trust, and increase website authority
How not to measure PR success
As mentioned before, unlike in traditional PR, Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) is not used to measure digital PR – there are a lot more reliable and factual stats to go by. In public relations, AVE refers to the approximate cost (or value) of space within a publication, had that coverage had been paid for – normally out of an advertising budget. In the past, PR professionals have used ad value as a quick and easy way to demonstrate the success of their clients’ earned media campaigns as this was one of the only ways to prove some form of value from PR.
Other elements, such as reach and circulation are outdated measurements of success as it doesn’t prove anything. When measured and analysed effectively, PR has the potential to work much harder than getting a press cutting for your client or business. All digital PR activities should be aligned and help contribute to larger business goals.
So, now we know how not to measure PR and which measurements to disregard, how should we be measuring and analysing the value of PR?
The most important activity and outcome of digital PR is acquiring links; you need links to remain competitive and drive rankings. Securing backlinks from a wide range of referring domains will ensure you have a healthy backlink profile, which will, in turn, increase your domain rating, allowing you to rank higher organically against competitors. A domain rating (DR) is measured on a logarithmic scale from 0 to 100. The effect a backlink will have on your brand’s domain rating depends on three different elements:
- the quality of a link
- the relevance of a link built
- number of links to target/key pages
Unlike traditional PR, digital PR allows us to measure the effectiveness, rather than just the value of PR activity. When looking at how digital PR are influencing important elements such as SEO and ROI, consider monitoring and measuring the transformation in the below:
Getting a variety of high-quality links and improving your link profile is crucial to raising a website’s authority. The greater your website’s authority, the more likely you are to have strong traffic and rank highly – both the quality and quantity of backlinks is what will have a lasting effect on website authority and domain rating. Take a look at this upward trend on a backlink profile from one of our clients; we began digital PR activity in March:
Tools like Ahrefs also allow you to track your domain rating as well as referring domains and number of backlinks.
Search engine visibility and traffic
Getting published on high authority websites and generating those all-important backlinks to your website will have a large influence in helping push you up the rankings (and rating higher than competitors). It goes without saying that the higher up you are ranked on Google, the more traffic will come to your site. In addition to this, by outreaching thought leadership articles and engaging articles with actionable tips, you are putting yourself in front of potential customers that might not have known you existed.
Google Analytics is a great tool for looking into stuff like this. It is also a useful tool for seeing if any of your pieces of coverage have resulted in conversion and is good at identifying if that particular publication is beneficial to pursue in the future. To do this simply click into the analytics section and follow through these steps: analytics > conversions > multi-channel funnels > assisted conversions. Enter the date range you want to investigate and you will be able to see all the sources which have resulted in assisted conversions.
Brand awareness and trust
A digital PR team can make sure that when potential consumers type your company’s name and products and services into a search engine, they see positive stories and engaging content. Creating engaging content, and high-quality articles that are SEO friendly will indicate to search engines that you’re a credible source of information. Brand mentions also hold the same type of value that a backlink holds as although there is no link, Google still deems unlinked brand mentions as “implied” links. So although they may not offer as many benefits as dofollow links, they certainly count.
Top tips for conducting a successful campaign that you can measure PR results and success from:
So, now you know the benefits of measuring PR effectiveness and how to do this, how do you launch an effective digital PR campaign?
Come up with a great content idea
Coming up with a strong idea is sometimes the hardest part – especially if your client doesn’t provide the most glamour or exciting products or services. It is always beneficial to think outside of the box – struggling for ideas? Use tools like Buzzsumo or Answer the Public or subscribe to journalist enquiry services like Response Source, as they will allow you to get a grasp of what people are talking about and what topics are in demand right now. Another great approach is to conduct relating keyword research – this will allow you to fill content gaps as well as answer questions relating that consumers are asking about your industry, products and services.
Put together a hard-hitting media list
The most important tip is before you start collating a list of publications you want to send content to, it’s always worth looking at what your competitors are doing – this can be done using the link intersect function on Ahrefs or you could set up a Google Alert for competitors. If a publication is covering stories and articles by your competitors, it is likely they’ll do the same for you so this is a good place to start. You should also set up Google alerts for relating keywords to see what type of content is being published within certain publications.
Another top tip is to download Hunter chrome extension – this tool allows you get relevant information including the name and email of individual journalists and editors; rather than the generic @news @info, allowing you to personalise your pitch.
Always, always follow up
It has been proven that following up with journalists and editors will increase your chances of securing a piece of coverage – think about how many 1000s of emails they get a day – it is very possible that your pitch was overlooked.
A friendly reminder or prompt could be the difference between a link or not. Buzzsumo has a great function which sends out automatic follow-ups if the recipient hasn’t responded.
Return the favour
It is a great feeling when you get that piece of coverage (even better when it comes with a link). Now you know that that particular publication accepts guest blogs AND provide a link, it’s worth creating a relationship with them for future purposes – ensure you share the article your end on social channels to increase impressions and engagements – another great metric to measure PR results.