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The 2024 State of the Media Report

Get actionable insight from 3,000+ journalists on what they truly want and need from PR teams.

PR Measurement Tools: Streamline Analysis and Optimize Strategies

PR measurement tools are designed to help you understand the impact of your public relations campaigns and make better decisions in the future.

It doesn't matter if you're a solo marketing employee or work in a big PR agency, the process for measuring public relations success is the same.

From collecting and analyzing data to adjusting your strategy, a public relations tool can help you stay on top of your brand's image.

This guide explains how PR measurement works and looks at the analytics tools you'll need to navigate this data-heavy arm of the marketing industry.

Learn how to track key performance indicators, such as social media reactions, reach, or volume of media coverage for your campaigns.

Whether you are just starting out or well-established in your field, understanding and utilizing PR measurement tools is crucial to keep up with changing trends, reach your goals, and stay ahead of the competition.

From now on, you can confidently make informed decisions based on data and keep your finger on the pulse of your PR efforts.

In this guide:

  • Essentials of PR Measurement

    • PR Metrics

    • PR Tools

  • Analytics Tools Integration

  • Best Practices in PR Measurement

  • Evaluating PR Campaigns

  • Social Media in PR

  • PR for Different Business Sizes

  • Best Practices in PR Measurement

  • Emerging Trends in Public Relations

  • Advancing PR Strategy

  • Resources and Case Studies

Take a comprehensive approach to PR measurement with our 7 Essential PR Metrics to Prove Impact tip sheet.

Essentials of PR Measurement

Marketing teams use PR measurement as part of a wider strategy to ensure a brand's reputation is aligned with an overarching strategy. You can use PR analytics software to collect data and understand what it all means, before deciding how to act upon your new findings.

Before you do this, it's important to understand a) what metrics you should be looking out for, and b) the tools available to make your job easier.

a) PR Metrics

It's crucial to establish credible PR metrics when setting out any public relations strategy. These metrics help you determine the effectiveness of your strategy and identify areas for improvement.

1. Media Mentions and Brand Mentions

Keep track of media mentions and brand mentions within your industry and beyond.

Media mentions include any instance where your brand or campaign is referenced by journalists, influencers, or bloggers in their content. Meanwhile, brand mentions encompass any online discussions or references to your company, products, or services by consumers and the general public.

You can use a tool like CisionOne to track brand mentions across channels.

2. Web Analytics Data

Tracking your website analytics is vital to understanding how your brand is performing. Depending on your brand, you might need users to stay on your web pages, read articles, buy things, or interact with others.

You can use a simple tool like Google Analytics to measure what your audience is up to, and where your online funnel is falling short.

Perhaps you want to convert readers to shoppers with your affiliate-focused magazine site. You'll be able to see how readers get to your site, and where they leave.

3. Sentiment

Understanding user sentiment means you can better understand your audience, and realign PR campaigns to match. A tool like CisionOne can help you understand positive, negative, and neutral sentiment. This way you can target users based on how they currently view your brand.

Perhaps it's time to split your PR efforts and send different messages to different segments of your audience.

4. Coverage Data

While tracking the volume of media coverage is important, it's also essential to analyze data on the quality of your coverage.

Analyzing aspects such as the prominence of your brand in the coverage, and the credibility of media outlets, is crucial in accurately assessing the impact of your PR campaign.

By doing so, you can identify areas for improvement, showcase your successes, and make more strategic decisions in your future PR efforts.

b) PR Tools

There are a lot of PR tools out there built to help you analyze broadcast coverage, media impressions, and everything in between.

These tools can be boiled down into three categories: distribution, monitoring, and management. Some PR software, such as CisionOne, allow you to do the whole lot in one place. Here's a little more about each sub-section.

1. Media Distribution Tools

Media distribution tools streamline your efforts to reach journalists, influencers, and other key stakeholders, ensuring your PR messages are delivered effectively.

It's important to have a tool that allows you to search for and curate media contacts, distribute press releases, and create email templates.

Whether you are a small business or a large corporation, having access to these tools can greatly optimize your PR efforts, saving you time and resources.

Examples of Media Distribution Tools
  • CisionOne

  • PR Newswire

  • Muck Rack

  • Globe Newswire

  • Prowly

2. Media Monitoring Solutions

There's no point sending out PR messages if you can't monitor the response to them. Brand monitoring tools allow you to track the coverage of your brand across newspapers, magazines, television, radio, social media, blogs, YouTube, and news sites.

These tools need to provide real-time monitoring of your brand, custom alerts, and comprehensive analytics. By gathering these insights in real time, you can better understand your brand's performance, spot trends and opportunities, and make well-informed decisions for your PR strategy.

Examples of Monitoring Tools
  • CisionOne

  • LexisNexis

  • Mention

3. Social Media Management Tools

It's never been so important for PR professionals to be across social media management. Your PR campaigns will be interwoven with social platforms like X, Facebook, and Instagram. You can drive engagement, manage your online reputation, and keep track of performance insights across different social media platforms.

Social management tools need to facilitate the scheduling and publishing of content, provide analytics in real time, and spot issues for your brand before they become crises.

Examples of Social Media management Tools
  • Brandwatch

  • Buffer

  • Sprout Social

By marrying PR metrics with strong analytics tools, it's possible to streamline your data collection and create optimal strategies that work every time.

Expert Tips for Measuring PR and Making an Impact

Measurement Tool Integration

Before you choose a measure tool, it's important to know you can integrate it properly. Otherwise your PR campaign performance will have holes in it, and this could open you up to risk.

A tool like CisionOne, for example, allows you to integrate your brand across the digital and non-digital spheres, so you get an holistic overview of how your brand is performing.

Only by having everything in one place – on a workable, flexible platform – can you begin to streamline your initial data analysis and optimize future strategies.

The rest of this guide will focus on varying aspects of public relations measurement success. We'll look at everything from best practices for dealing with reams of data, to what emerging trends are on the horizon.

Let's start with looking at what you and other PR professionals can do to maximize your brand reputation.

Best Practices in PR Measurement

You can lose yourself to hours of reading around the best ways to "do" PR measurement but it all comes down to five core aspects:

1. Define clear objectives

Before utilizing any PR measurement tool, you must establish your PR campaign's goals. Are you launching a new commercial with the aim of boosting sales? Or have you created a fresh product that seeks to rival your competitors?

Determine what you want from your PR campaign before starting out.

Align your objectives with strategically chosen key performance indicators (KPIs) and start with a solid foundation for assessing success.

2. Select appropriate tools

Choose top-rated PR tools that best fit your campaign's specific needs.

You'll need to consider what you need a tool for. Is it to monitor how your audience reacts to your PR campaigns? Or you might want to measure the reach of your PR campaign across local news sites and newspapers. A tool like CisionOne could be ideal.

3. Don't just focus on quantity

While large numbers can be impressive, it's essential to evaluate the quality of your PR outcomes.

Instead of solely relying on the number of media mentions or the overall reach of a campaign, thoroughly assess the content and sentiment of the coverage.

Determine whether the data aligns with your objectives and positively influences target audiences.

4. Benchmark against competitors

Keep tabs on your competitors' PR efforts and compare your performance against theirs.

Doing so can help identify areas that need improvement, guiding your future PR strategies for maximum impact.

5. Measure PR impact over time

PR measurement is an ongoing endeavor that requires consistent attention.

It's important, then, to evaluate your PR campaign outcomes on a regular basis. Doing this means you can adjust and adapt as needed, to better align with your established goals.

Evaluating PR Campaigns

The point of reporting tools is to help you quickly evaluate any campaign and respond in a strategic manner. PR is no different, and tools are particularly important for assessing the strengths and weaknesses of a publicity campaign.

Evaluating Campaign Performance Analysis

Indeed, when evaluating your PR campaign performance, it's essential to use quantifiable data and metrics to make informed decisions.

You can use various performance indicators to track the effectiveness of your campaign, such as:

  • Media Coverage: Monitor the number and type of media outlets mentioning your brand, campaign, or product.

  • Reach and Impressions: Measure the total audience exposed to your campaign content through different channels.

  • Engagement: Analyze the number of likes, shares, comments, and mentions on your social media channels.

  • Website Metrics: Track the impact of your PR campaign on your website traffic, bounce rate, and session duration.

Sentiment Analysis

The above key metrics all look at quantifiable data, but there are tools out there to help with more complex data points, like sentiment and media outreach.

Sentiment analysis is about analyzing the emotions and opinions expressed by your audience about your brand or campaign. This then bleeds into media outreach, because you need to ensure your PR stories are finding the right people.

There are various tools available to monitor and measure sentiment, with CisionOne being the standout option. The tool is able to analyze conversations across the online spectrum and spot where influential figures are coming from.

When performing sentiment analysis, consider grouping your findings into categories like positive, neutral, and negative.

Then, analyze the percentage of each sentiment category to gain insights into public perception.

Social Media in PR

No PR campaign is complete these days without a focused push on socials. Gathering social media analytics is all part of measuring your public relations successes and failures.

To do this effectively, you first need to understand which social platforms are best for your brand, and how to measure activity on them.

Which Social Media Platforms are Best for Engagement?

Each platform offers unique opportunities for engagement with your audience. Yet they might not all be suitable. Here's what the core platforms specialize in:

  • X (Twitter): Share news updates, industry insights, and join trending conversations to increase visibility. Audiences can be very responsive but crises can quickly arise from bad social media management on X.

  • Facebook: Engage with followers by posting relevant news and multimedia content to drive conversation and feedback. Facebook has more of a "magazine" feel than X and the core to any successful PR strategy here is to get readers to share your posts to their friends.

  • Instagram: Share visual content such as images and videos to attract and captivate users. You'll need to stay on top of regular tech developments and be ready to experiment with new styles of content.

  • TikTok: Like Instagram, TikTok is all about being hot on trends and jumping on what everyone's talking about. Press releases won't cut it here. You need a top video content strategy to nail your public relations efforts.

  • LinkedIn: Your brand can become an industry leader by publishing its own articles, blog posts, and white papers. Ask employees to share their own experiences of your brand and what you're doing to stand out. LinkedIn is all about being able to create engaging posts based on real expertise, and presenting your brand in a professional light.

  • YouTube: Create and share informative video content to showcase expertise in your field. As a brand you might do this to help users understand your product, such as a cycle company explaining how to fix bikes. Or you might want to launch a new sponsorship deal with a sports company on YouTube because that's where your target audience consumes its media.

To maximize your social media engagement, make sure to tailor your content to fit each platform's unique requirements and audience expectations.

Social Listening and Mentions

Measuring the success of PR performance goes beyond simply tracking how many likes, views, or retweets you get from a campaign. You might have a killer YouTube video that attracts five millions views in a month, yet you won't know why your audience is interacting with the video until you operate social listening.

Social listening is about understanding what your audience really thinks about your brand. It's crucial to monitoring.

Some essential social listening and tracking tactics include:

  1. Keyword monitoring: Keeping an eye on brand mentions, competitor mentions, and specific industry terms to stay informed on relevant conversations.

  2. Sentiment analysis: Using a tool like CisionOne to assess the public's feelings towards your brand through positive, negative, or neutral mentions.

  3. Trending topics: Keeping up with current trends to participate in timely conversations that are relevant to your industry.

By choosing the right social platforms and plugging in social listening software, you can run background monitoring of your brand across the social sphere. You don't need to ask users or audiences for their feedback, you simply need to listen and analyze the results.

PR Measurement for Different Business Sizes

Public relations is a requirement for all businesses, no matter your size. You need a press network if you're a small taco shop in Utah, as much as a global conglomerate needs one. Press tracking and press release distribution tools can help even the smallest business understand growth points.

Here's what different business sizes need to consider when planning to measure their own PR:

Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

As a small or medium-sized business, your main priority is likely to be cost-effectiveness and ease of use. PR measurement goes well beyond price, though. Here's what businesses of this size will find useful:

Brand Recognition – Smaller-sized businesses often struggle for brand recognition when competing with bigger rivals. A PR measurement tool with image recognition and keyword tracking can help you understand your reach, as well as how distinctive your brand is.

Open Rates – If you're sending a press release to new or rarely-contacted media contacts, then it's possible they won't bother reading your messages. Your emails might even fall into junk. Measure who is interacting with each press release and continue to adjust to make them more engaging.

Social Interactions – Using free tools like the Meta Business Suite, or powerful paid-for software like CisionOne, will help you understand how your target audience interacts with social posts. Even something as simple as being able to track social mentions means you can better understand what your audience likes and dislikes.

Large Businesses

Bigger corporations employ entire PR teams and agencies to measure the success of their public relations efforts. This adds further layers of management that only powerful PR reporting tools can handle in a professional, streamlined manner.

Here are some of aspects of PR software that larger businesses are able to fully utilize:

Competitor Analysis – Gauging the success of your competitors' campaigns can be the key to creating a new strategy and carving a greater market share for your business. Tools like CisionOne can help businesses benchmark their campaigns against others.

Deep Social Listening – Going beyond how users interact with your brand and listening in to their interests, their attitude to rivals, and the latest trends all comes from deep social listening. Tools like CisionOne use AI across various social media platforms to help brands understand exactly what their audience think.

Global Reputation – A small store in downtown Chicago doesn't have a global reputation to upkeep. However, mega corporations do, and they need to monitor various media channels to gauge their impact across the world. By using a deep media database, it's possible to ascertain one's worldwide reputation. Using this data, you might decide you need more media exposure to push a certain product or service, or you may spot where your media relations are falling short.

PR Measurement for Advancing PR Strategy

PR tools help you collect data to understand where your brand currently sits in the market, and with your audience. The next step is to develop a media strategy based on that data.

PR professionals can then use the same tools to continually update strategies, and create a feedback loop that is genuinely useful.

Here's what you can begin to focus on:

Widening Your Exposure

Media monitoring helps you understand where your brand is falling short, so you can strategize a better way of widening your exposure. You can do this with the help of a PR tool like CisionOne that collects data from your media contacts and places where your brand is mentioned, and helps you decide what to do next.

Perhaps you need to work more closely with publications to push your PR stories to more audiences. Or you might need to change what you're providing, so that it's more interesting to outlets – whether that's online news, a local social media influencer, or the Wall Street Journal.

Improving Media Relationships

Media relationships are paramount when trying to enrich your PR campaigns and get your brand out there. Journalists and producers need a reason to tell your story. You can create hundreds of press releases but there's nothing better than the personal touch when it comes to media relations.

Therefore, it's important to be familiar with your closest contacts. This could involve sending personalized stories, or exclusives to specific media organizations.

It's important to come out from behind your computer screen and actually talk to media contacts on the phone, or in person. You'd be amazed how quickly you can boost coverage simply by being human.

Audience Targeting

Top PR software like CisionOne can track the impact of a campaign to such a degree that you can begin to predict metrics such as website traffic and other ROIs ahead of time. By tracking audiences in this way, it's possible to zone in on specific demographics during the course of a campaign.

For example, a drinks company releases a new product in Delaware and sees an immediate surge in interest from the 18-24 age range. The next step is to target ads specifically for this range, and generate greater interest and sales.

Emerging Trends in Public Relations Measurement

The public relations industry never sleeps and technological advancements means measuring the impact of your PR campaigns is getting easier by the day.

Whereas an online newsroom might once have struggled to understand why its audience flocked to its site, these days the analytics tools available make it simple.

There are different public relations tools and new trends popping up all the time. One is inbound public relations, which focuses on creating valuable content and experiences tailored to a target audience. With the help of AI, it's possible to predict and create more positive media coverage, while also building lasting relationships with your stakeholders.

Another popular trend is the use of fully data-driven public relations, which allows you to make informed decisions about your campaigns.

By analyzing metrics such as engagement, reach, and impact, you can optimize your public relations efforts and demonstrate the influence your campaigns have on your target audience.

Moreover, the rise of influencer marketing has transformed the way public relations campaigns are conducted.

Teaming up with influential figures in your industry can amplify your message, engage new audiences, and build trust for your brand. Keep in mind that authenticity plays a crucial role in the success of influencer collaborations.

As society becomes more environmentally and socially conscious, purpose-driven public relations has gained greater prominence.

Aligning your campaigns with causes that resonate with your audience will not only make a positive impact on the world but also enhance your brand's image.

Resources and Case Studies

Industry Leading Tools

As a marketing professional, it's essential to have access to top-notch PR measurement tools. Here are some industry-leading options that will help you monitor and evaluate your PR campaigns:

  • Agility PR Solutions: This comprehensive PR platform offers media monitoring, targeted outreach, and analysis tools to help you track news coverage and measure the success of your campaigns. With Agility PR Solutions, you'll be able to identify influential journalists, maintain contact lists, and build customized news alerts.

  • Cision: As a prominent player in the PR industry, Cision offers an extensive suite of tools for marketing teams, including media monitoring, influencer outreach, and reporting features. Cision helps you stay on top of crucial news coverage and gain valuable insights into your campaigns' performance.

Successful Campaign Examples

Learning from others' success can be helpful in developing and refining your PR strategies. Below are two case studies that showcase successful campaigns in the PR industry:

  1. The Product Launch Campaign: For a recent product launch, a marketing team leveraged Agility PR Solutions to identify and target key journalists in their industry. They created a customized news alert to follow relevant news coverage and used the platform's analysis tools to gauge their campaign's success.

    The result was an impressive increase in brand awareness and favorable media coverage.

  2. The Reputation Management Campaign: A business facing significant negative news coverage turned to Cision for help in refurbishing its image. The marketing professionals utilized Cision's influencer outreach and media monitoring tools to develop targeted messaging and manage their response to negative press.

    As a result, the company successfully limited the impact of the news and began rebuilding its reputation.

The Last Word on PR Measurement

Measuring the success of your public relations covers a wide range of metrics. You can focus on seemingly intangible benefits through media monitoring, track an improvement in your brand reputation, and assess your social impact on the world. Or you can measure the success of a campaign in raw data, such as financial ROIs, coverage metrics, and an increase in your brand's market share.

No matter the reason for measuring your PR activity, it's important you get it right. Big and small companies use PR tools to launch and track successful campaigns, before reporting insights back into their marketing strategy and launching better campaigns next time.

Being smart with how you use analytics tools is the best PR measurement advice anyone will give you. By first understanding what you need to measure, you can then begin to develop a deep strategy and integrate your PR tools into your media campaigns.

From here, you can analyze data from successful and unsuccessful PR efforts, and figure out what you need to change to make your next strategy even better.

Author Bio
Marcelo Javelly
 SEO and Social Listening Specialist

Marcelo is an SEO and Social listening expert with 8+ years of experience across various industries and joined Cision in 2023. Based in Copenhagen, he is our in-house specialist for all things related to social listening.