For more than half a century, businesses have run on the mantra that “what gets measured gets managed.” But as advertising legend Rory Sutherland points out in his book, “Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life,” there’s an associated truth that’s also true: “what gets mismeasured gets mismanaged.”
Businesses love metrics because they’re easy to compare. Stories in The New York Times, The Economist and Wired have made the analogy that “data is the new oil,” which fostered the line of thinking that is everything can be measured, then everything should have an accompanying metric. But that’s just led to an explosion of both real and vanity metrics. Plus, in PR, we deal with people, who don’t always act in predictable, measurable ways.
In today’s PR landscape, we start with a set of standard PR metrics—mentions, share of voice, advertising value equivalency. They’re pretty easy to grasp and do a good job of communicating how well the PR efforts are going. Mentions reflect the number of times your company has been mentioned in the press over a set time, the share of voice measures your mentions as compared to your competitors and advertising value equivalency assigns a dollar amount for each mention by comparing it to how much the same space would cost as a paid ad.
But more often, measuring real impact in PR and content marketing falls outside the neat lines of metrics. How do you quantify the credibility, believability and trustworthiness that PR and content marketing programs provide? There are no standard metrics for those values, but we can attempt to get close in several ways.
- Measure the impact
One approach is to shift the metrics away from direct mentions and toward the impact or value of those mentions. Does placement in a particular publication lead to a quality sales lead? How much does website traffic increase after a company executive is interviewed for a story? The Google Analytics tool gives marketers a clear view of where their traffic is coming from, so they can watch for a spike from a particular source.
Measuring impact goes hand-in-hand with search engine optimization. Certainly, a story in a high-traffic, high-quality site that links back to your business provides an SEO boost and a chance to capture visitors who are more likely to buy or convert. Studies have shown that 75% of people never go beyond the first page of search results, so a business must rank high for key phrases.
It doesn’t always have to be a big push that sets everything in motion. If your business is starting with zero media coverage, getting attention from smaller, niche publications can get the ball rolling. Reporters at more prominent outlets will look to those other publications as they do their research, and you’ve got immediate credibility.
Tying the traditional PR measures of mentions to online business metrics of revenue generated, website traffic, social engagement and quality leads pushes us close to that magic combination of metrics and qualitative analysis. That’s our sweet spot at Treble. We weave together media relations that gets you mentioned in top publications, bylines and contributed content that enhances your reputation and leverage paid media opportunities designed for maximum ROI.
By focusing on the metrics that matter to your business, our goals align with yours.