Mar 24, 2016

How to Prove Your PR’s ROI with the Right Reporting

How to Prove ROI with Reporting

“Was it worth it?”

This is the one question you must be able to answer at the end of every PR and marketing campaign.

Members of the C-suite, agency clients and other stakeholders all want to know whether the money, time and energy that went into a campaign changed consumer behavior and, more importantly, generated profit.

To prove your campaign’s ROI, you need to report on meaningful metrics that relate directly to business goals. Follow these four steps to show the worth of your next campaign.

Step 1: Define your goals across teams

When planning a media campaign, it’s important to first define your goals. Because PR and marketing no longer work in siloes, these goals must align across all of your teams.

Traditionally, PR’s goals have focused on the relationships built with journalists, influencers and online audiences, while marketers’ goals revolved around creating brand awareness and filling and optimizing the sales funnel.

However, for a campaign to be successful in today’s media and buyer landscapes, PR and marketing must work together to meet their goals – from generating earned media coverage and increasing key message pick-up to driving content engagement and boosting revenue.

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Step 2: Match your metrics to your goals

Once you’ve defined your goals, how exactly do you demonstrate your ROI for them? Choose the right metrics.

Each team that contributes to a media campaign needs to report on metrics that measure their goals and, crucially, prove attribution. Different goals will have different metrics; it’s important to make sure yours match.

Consider a campaign that has the goals of educating audiences and driving engagement to a piece of content. Here are three types of reporting you could gather, along with key metrics for each.

Paid Media Reporting

Campaign Tactic: Social, digital or traditional ad placements promoting your content

Campaign Metrics:

  • Impressions: The estimated number of individuals who read, viewed or listened to a paid media placement about your content.
  • Clicks: The number of individuals who engaged with the paid media placement and followed through on the call to action.

Press Release Reporting

Campaign Tactic: Press release distributed to media networks and websites promoting your content

Campaign Metrics:

  • Distribution Reach: The number of websites your press release appeared on and the total potential audience reach.
  • Engagement: The number of times your audience engaged with your release, including tweets, shares and clickthroughs.

Earned Media Reporting

Campaign Tactic: Successfully pitching journalists, bloggers, and influencers who cover your story

Campaign Metrics:

  • Potential Audience Reach: The estimated number of individuals who read, viewed, or listened to a news article or broadcast.
  • Target Audience Reach: The estimated number of individuals who read, viewed or listened to a news article or broadcast from an influential media outlet.
  • Key Message Pick-Up: The number of times the key messages in your outreach or press release were discussed in the media.

Want to see which other metrics matter? Check out our list of 18 metrics that prove and inform for more tips on matching measurement and goals.

Step 3: Define “success”

To prove your campaign was successful, you’ll need to set a baseline for each metric you report on. To set a baseline, it is best to think about the results of previous campaigns and determine your average results. If this is the first time you are measuring the results of a campaign, determine a baseline using industry standards.

For example, if your first campaign garnered a potential audience reach of 50 million and your second campaign garnered 70 million, you can set your baseline at 60 million for your third campaign. If you surpass your baseline, you can dig deeper into what worked in this campaign versus previous campaigns and, ultimately, improve upon future campaigns.

Our article PR’s Changing Benchmarks offers 10 questions that will help you set a baseline and make the most of measurement.

Step 4: Communicate your success in a comprehensive report

Once your campaign is over and you have your hands on all the data, how do you cohesively demonstrate your success? Present one, comprehensive report that highlights each team’s contributions and tells your campaign’s story. Some best practices include:

  • Start with an introduction that outlines the purpose of your campaign and the goals you wanted to achieve.
  • Organize the report in sections that show how each team contributed to the campaign. For example, the PR team should take ownership of the earned media reporting, while the marketing team should explain the results of paid media placements.
  • Conclude with lessons learned and ideas to optimize future campaigns.
  • Keep your audience in mind. You may need to have different versions of the report prepared for each audience you are presenting to. C-Suite executives will want high-level numbers that show ROI as a dollar value. Mid-level managers in your communications department will want more insight into the quality of the campaign (e.g. was the target audience reached?)

When compiling your reporting, you should also consider how the report can benefit you long after its presentation.

Take the lessons learned and immediately establish a follow-up plan while the campaign’s fresh in your mind. Then, consider conducting an A/B test with your next campaign to optimize how you connect with your audience.

To see how one company used reporting to optimize their press release strategy, download our case study PhRMA Increases Blog Readership & Reaches Broader Audiences with Content SyndicationThe steps PhRMA took — and the results — can help you define a strategy for your own goals.

Author Melissa Toso is a media analyst on PR Newswire’s media analysis team (also known as ‘professional services’), a group of communications and industry experts focused on monitoring and measurement.

2 Comments on Blog Post Title


­ ketki 07:16 EDT on Mar 29, 2016

It is well written and thanks for sharing good thoughts.Keep it up.


­ Alberto Valle 18:28 EDT on Mar 31, 2016

Reporting PR ROI is a big issue in Brazil. Most agencies don’t do it. I’ll send your post URL next time a have to deal with this problem here.


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