The #1 Question You Need to Ask Your PR Team Right Now

Kate Lobel
By Kate Lobel

How Are You Using Data To Show PR’s ROI?

If your PR team is not reporting on metrics that directly relate to your bottom line, you need to ask them why. You have established business goals to increase revenue, drive conversions, and see an ROI on all marketing initiatives, so why wouldn’t this include PR efforts? To see performance, your PR team needs to incorporate major conclusions resulting in ROI based on data into their reporting.

You wouldn’t accept a report on your paid advertising performance with metrics like sentiment, potential impressions, or number of ads created, would you? No, you want cold, hard, data like CPC, CPL, and ROAS.

The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data” – The Economist, 2017

Often, the problem with traditional PR agencies is that they are measuring their placements with soft goals, not goals that affect your bottom line. They’re claiming to be data-driven and throw around terms like “data visualization,” when in reality they merely generate soft “metrics” designed to protect their retainers. These metrics report on things like sentiment, potential impressions, and reach. None of these metrics reflect the business’ bottom line.

Why are they doing this? Our PR team attended a PRSA event where analytics specialist and industry veteran, Brent Diggins, confirmed that across the industry people are worrying about their budgets being cut while other data-driven marketing channels are putting their hands in the “PR pot.”

Social media and advertising agencies that report on data and metrics to show ROI are starting to incorporate PR and media relations into their service offering. These are all arms of marketing that use data and analytics, so they can provide great insight in terms of numbers but can also communicate and tell stories like PR professionals. Diggins mentions that this is why it’s critical for PR people to be able to talk data, numbers, analytics to have a seat at the table with people who are always data-focused.

This is the exact foundation on which the PR department at Power Digital was built. We sought to find a solution to the antiquated and ineffective way traditional PR professionals typically report. Here, analytics and data are our bread and butter and we are not afraid to highlight the metrics that affect your bottom line.

How We Use Data And Analytics To Report On Our PR Performance

At Power Digital, we use a variety of tools to help us identify key metrics that we feel the client would be most inclined to learn about and use as a benchmark to compare results. Ultimately, we measure the metrics that are cohesive with each client’s unique campaign goals.

Google Analytics is the go-to software which allows our team to identify the amount of traffic individual placements are driving back to the client’s website, the number of new users that the placement is driving, the average duration each visitor is spending on the client’s site, the number of pages that person visited while on site and most importantly, the number of goal completions or conversions made by made visitor.

A couple of questions to ask:

  1. Is your PR team reporting on these metrics?
  2. Are their objectives aligned with your company’s goals?
  3. Do they know how to interpret this data and consistently report on it?
  4. Are they aware of your other multichannel efforts? If so, how is their PR strategy complementing and supporting these ongoing initiatives?

In addition to utilizing Google Analytics, Power Digital uses tools like MOZ to evaluate the authority of each website. MOZ has a proprietary measurement metric called a Domain Authority (DA), which rates a website’s strength in the eyes of Google on a scale of one to 100, with100 being a perfect score. Not only do we take a look at the websites number of unique visitors and shareability rates, but also the site’s DA to ensure that we are securing coverage on an outlet that will boost the authority of our client’s website and drive rankings.

Related: Top 3 Digital PR Strategies to Elevate Your Outreach Game

What is considered authoritative in the eyes of Google? Here are a few aspects of a website that Google “crawls” or scans on a weekly basis to identify whether or not that outlet is authoritative:

  • The quantity of the backlinks from other outlets pointing to the site
  • Even more importantly, the quality of the backlinks pointing to the site and whether or not those links are spammy or considered a “red flag”
  • The amount of relevant content on the website, and the frequency of fresh content that is published
  • The Trust Flow and Citation Flow of the website
  • The number of top referring sites and their respective Trust Flow and Citation Flow. If there are only a few top referring domains, it’s likely that website is a part of a blog network and it can be extremely harmful if your website is affiliated/linked out to by an outlet associated with blog network

It’s imperative you ask your PR team if they are ensuring that the websites they are securing coverage on are considered relevant and authoritative sites that aren’t spammy and won’t hurt your website. If you aren’t asking the right questions, you could be jeopardizing the health of your website by securing links on sites that could potentially be flagged by Google as spam and have it result in a penalty, ultimately harming the overall the strength of your site and its ability to rank on Google.

Why Go Digital Over Traditional

As a PR department incorporated into a full-service digital marketing agency, ROI and analytics are top of mind when we are reporting on PR. We dive into the data of each media outlet prior to conducting outreach to ensure that we are reaching out to the most qualified, authoritative sites that will only benefit our client’s website rather than jeopardize it. Additionally, after we secure coverage, we measure the performance of each placement we secure and measure how that placement is benefitting our client’s bottom line.

Unlike traditional PR agencies, we don’t claim to be data-driven without actually diving into the data. Our department has been fully immersed into the digital space and we understand the direct correlation between SEO and PR. Instead of using fluff metrics and spinning data to our advantage, we report on the hard numbers that are more impactful to our client’s bottom line and walk them through each step of the process.

Prior to starting any campaign, we ensure that we are fully aligned with our client’s goals and base our strategies around a client’s KPI’s. Although most clients are only familiar with PR as solely a brand awareness play, we use Google Analytics to show them how our PR placements are moving the needle in terms of the client’s goals and conversions.

Related: How Content, SEO, & PR Work Together to Get Results

Another huge differentiator of Power Digital when compared to PR-only agencies, is that we don’t view other marketing channels as competition, instead, we embrace them. For us, your business’ unique goals are our ultimate focus and we understand that channel-specific needs fluctuate dependent on the time of year, campaign focus, and business objectives. Simply put, we don’t sugar coat our PR reports in an attempt to protect our retainer.

Additionally, we make certain that our PR efforts and successes aren’t limited to just our channel, but that its impacts are felt across the entire marketing ecosystem. We pride ourselves on securing thoughtful placements that support ongoing SEO, PPC, Social and Content initiatives, among others.

Wrapping Up

All in all, it’s crucial to do a temperature check with your PR agency or in-house team to see how they’re leveraging data to quantify and qualify the impact of their efforts. This data is a necessary component of any marketing team’s arsenal and demonstrates just how effectively time, effort, and funds are mapping towards your business’s bottom line.

At Power Digital, we pride ourselves on being PR industry leaders that bridge the gap between brand awareness and ROI, which is largely due to our data-driven and cross-channel approach. We take critical and impactful metrics into thoughtful consideration to guarantee that our PR efforts move the needle for your business and support the bigger, overarching marketing picture. Our efforts are never siloed; our efforts are holistic.

If you’re now realizing that your current PR program is years behind the digital and data transformation, we’d love to chat!

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Kate is the director of Public Relations at Power Digital Marketing with an extenisve background in traditional media relations and digital marketing with the goal of bridging the gap between brand awareness and ROI.