At some point in their careers, PR pros may hear clients or corporate managers complain that Google Analytics reports indicate lackluster PR campaigns. Website traffic is not meeting expectations. Perhaps page views fell or bounce rates increased. Google Analytics is certainly valuable for measuring website performance. Actually, it’s widely recognized as the gold standard for website analytics.
Here’s the thing, though: Google Analytics offers limited worth as a measurement tool for PR.
That’s because the principal goal of PR is not usually to increase website traffic — the core metric from Google Analytics. Although PR efforts may increase the company’s website traffic, that’s rarely the primary or most meaningful PR objective. Website traffic may increase if PR places an article in a major publication, but PR’s main goal build brand awareness and attract the right kind of traffic.
In order to properly measure PR, the metrics must align with the specific goals of PR or specific PR campaigns. Website traffic should not be the primary metric to measure the business value of PR.
What Google Analytics Won’t Tell You
Often, increasing brand awareness is a key PR goal. The right article placed in the right publication will improve brand awareness among key audience members and prompt them to take desired actions. Google Analytics will not measure that.
Important investors or influencers may read the article, prompting a major business development or investment. Google Analytics will not report that.
“Google Analytics can tell you exactly how effective an ad spend is, but it can’t measure the emotional appeal and trust generated by a glowing review from a trusted writer,” writes Ayelet Noff, founder and CEO of PR firm Blonde2 in Forbes. “Nor can it measure the value that one big business development opportunity could bring you as a result of seeing your brand featured on a prestigious publication.”
How to Really Measure PR
For a better gauge of PR effectiveness, organizations must analyze the entire Web, including social media, not just their own website. While Google Analytics adequately reports general metrics such as websites visitors, more sophisticated measurements specific to PR purposes require a media monitoring and analytics service. Metrics that a media monitoring service can report, and Google Analytics can’t, include:
Share of voice. Share of voice is the percentage of media coverage and conversations about your company, compared against those of your competitors. “By analyzing your share of voice you can gain the necessary insights to help make more informed ROI evaluations and strategic planning decisions,” states an ebook from PR and digital marketing firm onechocolate. “The operative word in this metric is share,” stresses Katie Paine, PR measurement expert and CEO of Paine Publishing, in her post on data to include in a PR measurement dashboard.
Sentiment. Sentiment rating systems typically score articles or posts as “positive,” “neutral,” or “negative.” Without sentiment analysis of media mentions, it’s impossible to evaluate the true import of a media placement or social media post. Although automated sentiment analysis can provide affordable review large amounts of mentions, trained human analysts offer superior accuracy. Measure all conversations about your brand, products, or organization and rate them either desirable or undesirable — in other words, if the reader is more or less likely to support your business.
Net quality score. Determine what messages are most likely to persuade people to buy your product and assign each a weighting, Paine says. Make sure the total for the perfect story adds up to 10. Then do the same to negative elements, making sure they add up to -10. Evaluate all stories in the media most likely to influence key stakeholders based on those scores.
Percentage of conversations with one or more key messages. The PR campaign’s message might be an initiative, campaign, new product or an actual message. But regardless of how you define “message” track the percentage of items that contain a key message.
Reach. Of course, do measure the reach and viewership of media placements based on print circulation, broadcast ratings and online readership. Measure the impact of social media posts by tracking views and engagement including comments, likes and shares.
Revenue. When the PR goal is to create leads and sales, follow leads generated from media placements through the sales process to actual revenue produced. Use unique website landing pages to identify leads produced by PR placements.
Different PR goals require differing metrics. Some media analytics services such as Glean.info, previously CyberAlert LLC, are able to create custom metrics to meet specific PR goals of individual client companies. Such customized metrics enable deeper insights into PR success.
Bottom Line: Despite its prevalence, Google Analytics offers limited uses for measuring public relations. To gauge the full impact of PR and to demonstrate its value to upper management, it’s essential to analyze how PR performs across the entire media landscape, including social media. Accomplishing that requires a comprehensive media monitoring and measurement service that can customize its metrics, analytics and insights to each client’s specific needs.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.