How many times have you read an industry blog post or attended a PR event and been told that you need to report in a different way?
More on the outcome of PR
Less of the output of activity
More business impact
Less advertising equivalent
Yet no matter how many posts I read, white papers I studied or conferences I went to left feeling unsure of the first step to take. So what should we be doing?
We need to talk about our client’s business and not just PR business
Sure your direct PR client likes to see the campaign output but the senior heads of the business (the budget holders) only care about the outcome.
Your client’s boss DOES NOT CARE
what the reach might have been of your coverage
how many unique users a blog might have
Or how much it might have been to advertise (they probably paid your agency the same amount)
This may sound harsh. But without a direct correlation of these elements to the bottom line they rarely have the time to care. CEO's are far more familiar with updates such as a percentage increase on their investment.
But before I start sounding like other PR reporting posts you’ve read before telling you what you shouldn’t be doing I’m going to get to the point and help!
Real numbers are the answer
And how do we do that? Analytics.
In today’s PR, we solely need to prove that we communicated our message successfully. That success should demonstrate that a message was communicated so well the target audience were made aware, took action and there was a return on the budget investment.
Reporting should therefore include metrics that lead to proving ROI and the best way of getting to those real numbers is by looking at how people interact with your coverage and then your client’s content.
The ONLY way to do that is through analytics.
It might not be the first time you’ve heard this. There are tons of PR articles on analytics. You may have even attended a training session on the topic. But it can be a minefield.
The first few times I looked at Google analytics I didn’t have a clue what I was doing or looking at so I worked with a digital team for years to find the best ways to measure PR success and now I’m going to share some of that with you.
So what is analytics?
Analytics is a tool attached to a website that analyses people arriving at that content and their behaviour with it. It’s important in PR because you can view where those people arrived from, including your PR coverage. You are then able to see what they went on to do. And, ultimately that is how you prove your worth to your client.
The good thing about analytics is that it’s an add-on to your reporting process. You don’t have to do anything different within the campaign. Your work stays the same, you will just be measuring in greater detail.
Once you notice which publication sites sent more traffic to your client's site you may decide to change your strategy. But, to begin with, nothing changes in your day to day.
The important thing to know about analytics is:
Without it you will continue with the old the methods of reporting such as 'advertising value equivalent'.
With it you will gain insights to improve your work, prove the true impact of PR and help grow your account. Improvements to business is what your client's boss cares about and they ultimately, they hold the budget.
So what can you find out using analytics?
Whether traffic on site came from your coverage
Whether traffic came from Google search results
How people interacted with content - e.g. how many read the latest white paper?
How many people read your coverage, then went on to buy something
Who signed up to the rewards scheme
Brilliant - let’s go! I hear you say. Well, before you get too excited you need to gain access to your client’s analytics account.
Work closely with your PR client to find the right contact in the digital team. Many teams could grant access including people in the SEO, online advertising and content teams. Gain their trust by explaining why you want to see the data and importantly what you’ll do with it.
Specifically, you want to see how much traffic arrived at your client’s site came from your coverage.
This can take time to filter and get to in a normal analytics account so the amazing team of developers I work with decided to help. They created a FREE tool that works with Google analytics called AnswerTheClient.com.
The tool connects to your client’s Google analytics account and then simply extracts the referral traffic from your PR coverage only. Nothing else can be seen or changed so the rest of client's data remains confidential.
Using a tool like AnswerTheClient.com saves you time and it will also reassure the rest of the internal digital teams that the data is safe.
Within a couple of minutes you will have real numbers and being able to prove your target audience took action after you made them aware through PR.