PR Problem Solvers Q&A
Question: I’ve been asked to prepare a presentation on PR metrics for the next board of directors meeting. Is share of voice a good PR metric to use?
Signed, PR Metrics
Dear PR Metrics:
Share of voice is one of those vanity metrics that companies like to track, along with the number of media mentions and social shares. What are vanity metrics? They are metrics that make people feel good when they see them, but they don’t necessarily correlate to business success.
What you should measure are the PR activities that correlate to your company’s business success. The PR world came up with the Barcelona Principles as the yardstick to measure PR success. The Barcelona Principles measure PR success in terms of inputs, outputs and outcomes.
Share of voice measures how much a company is talked about compared with competitors over a period of time. For example, your company might have a 40% share of voice this quarter versus 35% last quarter.
The problem is that the percentage doesn’t tell you what the quality of the press coverage was. Where the articles positive or negative? What caused that percentage to go up this quarter? (And, it also doesn’t take into account whether your competitors are large, established companies or startups. Their size may determine the amount of coverage they typically receive in a quarter.)
Here are some suggestions for PR metrics to track:
- Domain authority: Did you increase your domain authority in the quarter?
- Earned media: Was there an increase in earned media placements?
- Social media engagement: How many social media posts generated engagement among your target audience?
- Halo effect: What was the “halo effect” after your latest product announcement?
Wondering what a halo effect is? After a PR announcement, look for a rise in press coverage. Track website visitor traffic — were there more unique visitors, did they spent more time on the website, what was the bounce rate, how many visitors converted into leads? The halo effect shows the level of PR impact more than media impressions or advertising value equivalencies (AVE).
You may still be asked to put together a slide deck that shows the share of voice, the number of media impressions your company received, Twitter/Facebook fans and YouTube views. But include in your slides a few more relevant metrics for the purpose of educating your company management. Show them the domain authority, the earned media placements and the halo effect for your last big announcements.
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