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In PR, the objectives may not have changed, but the metrics have

PR, at its core, has always been about telling a brand or an organization’s story while gaining awareness and improving reputation. However, in today’s ever-evolving digital landscape, PR is seen as a cost-center—instead of a profit-center, like marketing—because of one word: measurement. Marketing metrics tie back to the bottom line (i.e. email campaign X generated 500 click-throughs and 30 leads, resulting in $XXX in revenue.) PR has been seen as a cost-center because of less-tangible goals based on vanity metrics like tracking followers, ad value or views.

Over the past six or seven years, however, social has changed communications in radical ways. What was traditionally paid (marketing, advertising) and earned (PR), is now paid, earned, owned (your corporate blog, website, newsletter) and shared (your Facebook and Twitter pages.)

This is where the lines get blurry. If you haven’t read Jeremiah Owyang & Rebecca Lieb’s Converged Media Imperative for Altimeter Group, be sure to check it out. Their converged media workflow is the new job description for marketers and PR pros alike: Content Strategy, Publication Across Channels, Engagement, Amplification, Restructuring and Analysis, all with Real-Time Measurement and Iteration.

And the news is everywhere. Yesterday, Omar Akhtar, senior editor at The Hub, highlighted that AirPR just announced $4M in funding because of their fresh look at analytics—tying earned and owned media efforts back to the bottom line. Additionally, Shift Communications recently highlighted Google Analytics Metrics for PR.

Understanding metrics, analytics and measuring true ROI of PR campaigns is fast becoming the holy grail of the PR profession. What tools, tactics and metrics do you use?

About Heidi Sullivan

One of PRWeek’s 40 under 40 in 2012, Heidi Sullivan is Senior Vice President of Digital Content for Cision and a self-proclaimed social media metrics nerd. She leads the company’s digital and broadcast content teams, the global research team for Cision’s media database, Cision’s social media community team and the company’s content marketing strategy. You can find her on Twitter @hksully.

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