A lot of times, startups don’t know when they are getting a raw deal from their PR campaigns. Seeing as many startups are now employing PR firms to run their campaigns, it is important for these startups to understand what they will earn from the campaigns, and how they will measure a successful outreach.

Two reasons why you want to know the measures of success for your PR campaigns are:

  1. To validate the efforts to your finance department and investors – A lot of PR firms cost a whole bunch of money. For you to justify such spending to yourself as a founder and to the investors, the results have to be measured and a successful PR campaign has to have occurred.
  2. To iterate and tweak future campaigns – For you to know what works you have to be sure of what didn’t work. Carefully running a campaign, measuring the success of it and actually coming up with important informative data about the campaign helps when you plan the next one. The data informs how to refine your next campaign to achieve even better results.

Having said that, one thing is very apparent: when starting a PR campaign, it is vital that you set measurable goals and objectives of the campaign. This way, when it ends, you have a checklist to get through to determine whether there was any success or not. Additionally, for measurable metrics, have set targets that the PR campaign should meet depending on the budget you have. It is crucial to know that the trends for public relations are continuously changing, so better have your strategy right.

The following are measurable metrics and tactics that startups can use to measure the success of their PR campaigns:

1. Press mentions from target publications

One important part of creating a PR campaign is listing your target publications. We advise that for the best media coverage hack, have your target publications divided into 4 parts.

The first part is the big publications which would include Forbes, CNN, BBC, Mashable, Buzzfeed, Wired, etc. These are large-size publications and a press mention from any of such publications means very well for your company.

The second part includes the mid-size publications, usually niche publications like The Next Web (TNW), TechCrunch, Recode, The Verge, Vogue, etc. A lot of these publications will be focused on one niche. For instance, TechCrunch is a startup and tech news platform as is TNW, while Vogue is focused on lifestyle and fashion.

The third part is where you have a list of local publications that you would like to be featured in and the last and fourth part is having a number of blogs whose coverage of your startup would be ideal.

If you are mentioned in one of each of these four parts that can be a very successful campaign. However, coverage in the large and medium-size publications would be ideal as that would create a ripple effect ensuring you appear in a couple of other publications that you had not really planned for. Local publications and news companies are also very ideal especially if your startup is a store in particular location and is looking for foot and car traffic.

The impact of coverage in these publications including viral blogs is that it could lead to increase customer activity for your startup, improved employee morale, as well as more inquiries and even purchases of your products/services.

2. Media Impressions

A media impression refers to a calculation usually used to estimate the approximate number of people who have heard about your company with a specific time period. It is used a lot in determining the impact of PR campaigns.

If you want to know what your media impressions are, multiply the number of press clips collected during the set time period by the circulation of each publication.

For instance, if let’s say Forbes has a circulation of 1 million readers between its digital and print publications. Then your estimated media impressions would be 1 million. Do the same for the other publications in which you appeared. You have your number of media impressions in each publication.

The media impressions metric is, of course, not foolproof. It has its own failures. Just because 1 million readers buy the publication does not mean they all see or read your story in these publications.

3. Calculating the Ad Value of a Media Clip

The Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) is a very controversial metric. However, it has been used a lot of times in the past by PR firms to measure the success.

Once your story has been published in a particular publication. You measure its value by looking at the advertising value of that space. For instance, if appearing in The Wallstreet Journal as an advert costs $5,000. Your story appeared there as a result of PR efforts, then the value of that media clip for your company is $5,000.

As much as this has been used a lot in the past. It is a widely known fact that advertising and public relations are not the same. For example, having your story featured on the publication might not be equated in value by having an ad in the same publication.  Depending on the story and how engaging it. The story could be more valuable for you than the company ad.

It is surely a game of chess in this case, but great stories transcend ad value, as do great ads. You have to tell a story like no other for the value to be higher.

4. Social media engagement

In the 21st Century there can be no mention of PR metrics without considering the value that social media adds in amplifying news and breaking stories out to the world.

Journalists have made this a special part of their work. They are building their own personal brands on social media networks. They are also breaking their stories into the world through these platforms. Additionally, they seek out stories from social media networks too.

Therefore, startups have to focus on social media. If you are running a PR campaign, you need to find out how many likes, comments, retweets, repins, and shares your story received on every platform it was shared to. From Facebook and Instagram to LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest among other networks, these metrics can be telling. A highly viral story on Facebook could turn the fortunes around for your startup. A pin that has been repinned thousands of times on Pinterest can redefine the sales and revenue of your ecommerce shop. If your startup is running a PR campaign, set the targets and goals for social media. Measure the impact of your story on these channels when the campaign is done or as it goes on.

5. Traffic and Backlinks

Startups need to get their traffic numbers right. SEO is highly dependent on how many websites link to your company. The trick is to get few premium level backlinks as compared to many low level backlinks. Good backlinks increase the domain authority of your company and leads to improved traffic through increased search engine rankings.

A lot of PR professionals try to grow a brand’s popularity while improving the SEO as well because the methods of doing this are quite similar online. If The New York times publish about you, traffic from the referral link to your website is increased. However, over time, that link also leads to increase search engine rankings for your brand’s focus keywords.

A successful PR campaign will have a bit of these two metrics. Traffic will be seen to spike on the days that your story is published, which is great. Secondly, you will gain some quality backlinks linking back to your site as a result of that story going out. The more traffic and high quality backlinks, the better.

6. Comparing coverage and determining share of voice

This is a way of measuring the success of PR campaigns by comparing two separate campaigns.

It might be that you carried out an online campaign, and then went and did a PR campaign at an event by setting up a booth and spreading brochures at the event as well as your products. Comparing the impact from these two campaigns can show which one was more successful.

Furthermore, you can also compare your campaign with a campaign carried out by your competitor. This is called determining the share of a voice. If you track the numbers, media impressions, press mentions, and social media activity from the competitor’s PR campaign. Compare to yours, you will know which one between your company and the competitor had a more successful campaign.

It is fair to note that this metric where you compare between PR Campaigns. Determine share of a voice is a great way of measuring the success of the PR campaign. It can tell you a lot in terms of what to tweak. Refine in order to have a better campaign next time.

A lot of PR firms will charge an arm and a leg for these metrics. So many startups might not be able to afford it. If you cannot practice do-it-yourself PR strategies at your startup, engage Pressfarm to help you out. We are a PR tool to help you find press contacts as well as a PR firm that affordably pitches stories to journalists to secure press coverage.