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How to use analytics to measure PR roi

How do you measure and improve PR ROI? Read our simple guide below on how to use PR tools to improve and measure your PR ROI.

What is PR ROI?

PR ROI or return on investment is a way of quantifying your PR’s influence on sales and share of voice. Your return on investment determines the monetary value of your public relations as well as your company's reputation and industry credibility.

PR ROI starts with the question “Did we achieve our objective?”. The best PR is executed to achieve a specific measurable objective, as something that is designed not to be measured, cannot be measured effectively. PR ROI can be calculated through your PR’s influence on sales of a product or service. Though in the present, PR campaigns are worth more than just the direct profit and loss of a company, measuring the increase of sales due to PR can be an approximate way to measure the success of your public relations. There is both short-term and long-term profitability of PR strategy that plays into your PR return on investment.

The monetary gain or sales revenue is a short-term win and is one way of measuring ROI, but it is not the only determinative of success. Another way of measuring PR ROI without looking specifically at the monetary gain from individual campaigns is to measure the share of voice and earned media from a specific campaign or press release. This plays into the long-term profitability of your public relations, as it may not pay off directly straight away, but it will have an overall positive impact on your brand and lead to long-term trust and profit. The ROI from earned media can be calculated from the coverage of your story and the reach of the publication that covered it.

Having your company’s name featured in a well-renowned publication builds trust between the reader and your company, as they put value and trust in that publication. Over time and the more exposure your brand gets, the more trust will be built and the higher your ROI from PR will be.

How do you measure PR ROI?

To measure PR ROI, is it important to have an understanding of PR analytics and how to use them to your benefit. First, you must know what you are trying to achieve. Blindly trying to raise awareness of a cause or brand is not measurable and therefore won’t provide actionable steps to improvement. You must set out exactly what you want to measure - how many more seats/products did you sell, how much more money did you raise for charity?

PR analytics is the first step in the PR ROI process. They provide exact numbers of email opens, click-through rates, percentage of email delivery, opt-outs and bounce rates. These statistics can inform your current PR ROI and give you specific and measurable goals to work towards in order to improve your PR ROI.

PR analytics is a key tool in measuring success when sending out a pitch or a press release to journalists or planning a campaign that provides precise data.

Great PR analytics can tell you:

  • Who has opened your press release
  • How quickly they opened it
  • Insight into whether they might use your story
  • Percentage of your emails that were delivered and opened
  • Percentage of your emails that were delivered and opened

Analytics provide the key to measuring the effectiveness of your public relations campaigns by giving you insight into key figures that can help you to send out releases with intention. The values of using PR analytics include insight into:

  • The journalists you should follow up with based on opens
  • The peak time and days to send releases
  • Emails that are bouncing and need to be updated

The caveat of a high PR ROI is that your press releases must be of high-quality content and easily converted into a story that fits with the publications editorial guidelines. For this reason, it is essential to research the journalist’s on your list and ensure that you understand how they operate and what will catch their attention in a sea of emails. This process can be arduous, especially when you are not using the correct tools so ensuring that you are well equipped with the necessary tools is a great starting point. You must also know exactly what you’re trying to achieve with precise targets when it comes to increased sales, fundraising or media coverage.

A PR database like MediaHQ combines list building, PR analytics and in-house press release sending software with high-quality research into individual journalists and the publications that they work for. Using a PR database can save time and create a higher ROI by giving you access to searchable contacts. This mitigates the need to use messy spreadsheets for your media lists and keeps them under one roof.

MediaHQ also has a list notifier, which pops up any time a contact on one of your lists has been updated, lowering your bounce rate and saving you time on manually researching your contacts regularly.

The benefits of PR Analytics in ROI measurement

Tracking your PR analytics is a simple yet effective way to know which press releases have been successful and which have not. PR analytics allow you to monitor your press releases and campaigns and track their impact and success. The MediaHQ database allows users to send releases and track their progress under one roof. It allows you to view your most recent release or choose a timeframe of emails to view, compare the analytics of your past sends and see them delivered, opened and link click rates among other statistics while comparing them to the industry average.

Tracking your PR analytics like opens, click-through rate, opt-outs and bounces can be a great place to begin when calculating PR ROI. Analytics gives you an insight into your success and allows you to see exactly what could be improved upon. Successful PR ROI starts with actionable and measurable goals and using your analytics as a starting point to build on will lead to success over time.

Here are some tips on how to use PR analytics to improve PR ROI:

  • Layout your KPI’s based on your current analytics.
  • Ensure that your KPI’s are attainable and make them specific.
  • This will help you to focus on what measurements you need to improve and give you a goal that will lead to higher ROI.
  • Give yourself a time period and track your progress over that time.
  • Having a goal to hit in a certain number of weeks or months will be a great motivator for continued success

How to use MediaHQ analytics to measure PR ROI

Discovering the optimal time to send out your press release is crucial in having a successful story, and in turn, greater ROI. A general rule of thumb is ‘early in the day, early in the week’. The further into the week you get, the more complicated the media landscape becomes.

At MediaHQ, our PR analytics page allows you to not only track the opens of your last press release, but it also gives detailed information on hour one, hour three and total opens and compares your release to the industry average and to other sends. See how MediaHQ PR Analytics Works with our video.

If your release does not do well in the first hour, it likely won’t recover so tracking its progress over the first three hours is crucial. If your stories aren’t getting picked up by the press, maybe it’s time to take a look at why. Once you know that something isn’t working, it opens the path to take a different approach.

The release reports page on the MediaHQ system allows users to see detailed reports of how their press releases fared.

It brings insight into:

  • Percentage of opens
  • Percentage delivered
  • Link clicks
  • Opt-outs
  • Bounces

Tracking these elements of a press release affords the user insight into how the journalists on their list responded to a particular press release and allows for comparison. These tools are useful in determining what works. Once you know what does well with journalists, it makes it easier to mould your PR strategy around this. This will create a higher PR ROI over time as it will increase your chance of getting regular coverage in the media.

MediaHQ provides release reports on all of your sent press releases.

Here are some of the features that come with MediaHQ’s PR analytics:

Filter by title or date -

These can be filtered by day or by title and provide an in-depth analysis of the delivered, opened, bounced, opt-out and link click percentage of your press release.

Analytic comparison -

It allows you to compare the stats from different press releases which makes it easier to track your progress and changes in PR ROI over a certain time period. It also allows you to compare your press release delivery, opens and click-through rate to the industry average, giving you a good idea of your standing within the industry.

Create pdf reports -

You can create a pdf report to bring to meetings or use as a place to start when working to improve PR ROI.

The success of release based on time sent -

MediaHQ’s PR analytics also show you the opens of your press release within the first and third hours of sending, as these are the peak times to track the success of your press release. This is extremely useful to track as it can be an indicator to change the time of sending if your releases aren’t performing as well as you expect them to.

See top contacts and regular opens -

A useful feature of MediaHQ’s analytics provides access to your top contacts and allows you to see the number of times a certain contact has opened your release. Building a good relationship with journalists will over time lead to a higher ROI on your press releases.

PR ROI checklist

PR ROI is an essential part of the communications process and tuning in to your company’s return on investment can bring higher profit margins, media coverage and levels of trust from customers.

Here is a checklist of things to consider when quantifying and building on PR ROI:

  • Are you currently measuring your PR return on investment?
  • Have you considered short and long-term measurements of ROI?
  • Have you set a clear, measurable objective for your PR activity?
  • Do you know what success looks like and will it move the needle?
  • Are you tracking both monetary and share of voice success?
  • Are you using PR analytics to track the success of your campaigns?
  • Have you got a measurable and attainable goal for ROI growth?

About MediaHQ

MediaHQ is a world-leading media contacts database and press release distribution tool. The software helps the world’s top PR and communications teams connect their stories with their audience


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