I recently did a talk discussing the impact and success of digital PR to local business leaders. Whilst preparing the presentation, I came across some confusion and mixed messages online when evaluating digital PR. This made me think about what can digital PR really do? And more importantly, how do we measure the impact of digital PR?

I think it’s vital that businesses have clarity and understanding when it comes to digital PR and, more importantly, an understanding on how it can impact a business.

In this post I will be combining my knowledge of SEO with my knowledge of PR to help outline and offer understanding to help businesses really gain the most from their online coverage.

It’s important to note that every business has slightly different objectives when embarking upon a digital PR campaign. I’ve worked with businesses who want

  • Brand awareness
  • Sales/leads
  • Support for their existing PR/Marketing team
  • Traditional PR (some clients have asked to be in print)
  • Print and online advertising
  • Featured in their favourite media

from digital PR.

There are so many activities involved with digital PR, but it’s vital to stay focused on the overall business objectives.

Digital PR professionals have an incredible opportunity in today’s digital media landscape, with access to new tools, and results-driven tactics which has evolved the reach far beyond traditional media relations.

How we don’t measure the impact of digital PR

We don’t use Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) to measure digital PR. In public relations, AVE refers to the cost of buying the space taken up by a piece of media coverage, had that coverage been an advertisement. Traditionally, PR professionals have used ad value as a quick and easy way to demonstrate the success of their clients’ earned media campaigns.

However PR can work much harder than just giving you a return on investment, and all digital PR activities should be aligned and help contribute to larger business goals.

What can digital PR do?

As we know in the digital world, pretty much everything can be, and is, tracked and monitored. So we are always aware of every placement and how best to measure the impact.  Digital PR, among other things, can:

  • help drive sales
  • help drive traffic
  • build brand awareness
  • drive engagement/shares
  • build links, trust, and increase website authority.

Links are the most important factor

They are the bread and butter of digital PR, as you need links to remain competitive and drive rankings. Moz have a great guide on building links.

The three main ways to measure links are:

  • the quality of a link
  • the relevance of a link built
  • number of links to target/key pages

In my monthly reports for my clients, I list all the links I achieve and give an insight to the authority and relevance of those links. When we come to reporting we know that every piece of coverage has added value, but links are the key performance indicators for digital PR.

But, how can we really measure the impact of digital PR?

Well, I’m sorry to tell you it’s not quite as easy as that. There is not one precise measurement of digital PR. The key impact to consider at all times, is how digital PR can contribute to wider SEO activities.

When looking at how digital PR can influence SEO, important impacts to measure are…

Increase in website authority

Getting a variety of high quality links and improving your link profile is crucial to raising a website’s authority. And the greater you website’s authority, the more likely you are to have strong traffic and rank highly.

Improved search engine visibility 

Getting published on high authority websites and generating those all important links to your website will have a large influence and help push you up the rankings. The higher up you place on Google, the more traffic will come to your site.

Increase in search engine traffic

The more people reading about your business and sharing your content on social media, the more people there will be visiting your website. If they like the high-quality content that links to you, it’s likely that you will see an increase in website traffic.

Increase in brand awareness and trust

A digital PR team can make sure your customers see positive stories and content when they type your company’s name into a search engine. Creating engaging content, and high-quality articles that are SEO friendly will indicate to search engines that you’re a credible source of information.

Generating leads/sales

A good digital PR strategy should put your products/services in front of a relevant and interested audience. The more people reading about your products and clicking through to your website, the more leads you will generate.

If this topic interests you, one of my digital PR colleagues has previously discussed how to measure the return on investment of PR work. Another interesting read touching upon more traditional PR methods and measurement. However, a lot of Nada’s conclusion echos my thoughts, most notably that AVE is not a metric to measure and that “Media measurement still requires a mix of both quantity and quality links. But please don’t focus on numbers alone.”

Final point

Make sure before you start any digital PR activity, you define the measurement of success!

If you need help with your Digital PR don't hesitate to contact us.

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