Author: Claire Topalian
We’re thrilled to work with clients like Impraise who are striving to make workplaces happier and healthier. More about Impraise: While agility and flexibility have long been valued as business strategy, they?re an afterthought when it comes to developing our most valuable asset ? people.…
Measuring PR is one of those age old questions. Many agencies will refuse to try, others will claim they can give you detailed metrics. The truth is, you guessed it: somewhere between those two options. One of the biggest challenges in measuring PR is that media outlets, in part, stay competitive by refusing to provide detailed reports of how your pieces performed. That said, there are secondary indicators you can look at — they aren?t perfect, but they get you started somewhere.
Here?s how we recommend measuring PR impact, and a few benchmarks you can actually rely on when monitoring your outcomes.
Understand why you want PR
Companies pursue PR for a variety of reasons and with specific goals in mind. This is why there is no ?one size fits all? approach to measuring the impact of your PR (and there certainly isn?t just one strategy). These are the top reasons that our clients choose to invest in PR:
- Brand awareness & share of voice
- Investment dollars
- Customer acquisition
- Executive leadership publicity
These goals are all different, so of course, each one requires a unique strategy. When our clients tell us that they are looking for user acquisition, for example, we stop pouring all our energy into landing Tier 1 features. Why? Although Tier 1 coverage is always exciting, we know that it doesn?t result in enough new customer conversions for the time spent (in most cases). In these situations, we actually steer clients in other directions — like niche blogs and publications where their ideal customer is spending time.
PR is an investment in your brand and your credibility — business growth outcomes like increased traffic and customer engagement can be supported through PR tactics, but we actually don?t recommend PR as tactic #1 in many of these cases.
The PR Scorecard
Once you?ve established the main motivation behind your PR investment, we recommend creating your own scorecard that captures exactly what you want to see come from your PR investment. As previously mentioned, there are only a few key PR outcomes that you should be focused on. The table below provides some realistic KPIs associated with each category.
|Increase brand awareness||Website traffic, inbound links, media mentions, new website visitors, referral traffic, blog/newsletter subscribers, domain authority.|
|Increase market share||Pre- and post campaign survey of brand awareness, number or leads generated, share of voice.|
|Improved customer engagement/loyalty||Engagement on social media, tone and sentiment of mentions, brand preference over the competition, customer referrals or reviews.|
Once you?ve honed in on the category that is most meaningful for your business right now, you can develop your own scorecard for PR measurement. If you’re working with an external PR person or firm, having a solid grasp on these pieces will ensure that you get more out of your engagement.
Sample PR Measurement Approach
Most of our clients just want to see a certain amount of media activity and then watch their own metrics. We?re happy to work with people on creating their own model or a mixture of a few different approaches. Since we?ve worked with a lot of startups, we know that proving the investment upfront is a big deal, especially for tight budgets.
The McMedia Index is one popular approach for measurement. Here?s how it works:
- Outlet: How relevant are the outlets to their audience? Rated on a scale from one to three.
- Visibility: What is the potential reach of each outlet? Rated above average to below average.
- Story type: What is the tone and content of the coverage? The article may highlight an emotional benefit (three), rational benefit (two) or just mention the product/brand (one).
Another method, adopted by Echosign, appeals to many startup clients in particular:
We developed an almost Fibonacci-esque scale for all PR hits, from 1-15. TechCrunch, WSJ, NYT were a 15. A ?1? was a blog written by someone decent but with little traffic. Then our VP of Marketing would assign targets in between these two extremes. We?d take a multiplier x1 is Echosign was prominently mentioned in the piece. We?d add a x3 if the article was solely about Echosign. All press/PR hits were worth a rating of 1 to 45.
What we would add to this approach would then come in the form of secondary tracking. Depending on your own scorecard, keep a list of your outcomes that can be observed through site traffic, social engagement, new leads, app downloads, etc.
When you know, you know
Lastly, try to keep in mind that even when PR can be tough to measure with specific data points, there is a strong abstract value that can be observed when a huge win is secured. Recently, one of our clients was featured in a Tier 1 publication. In a very simple / quick look at Google Analytics, we could plainly see the impact of that hit on site traffic by isolating the date range around the published article (see below). Even though this client wasn?t leaning on a specific scorecard, the impact on the brand itself was evident — and they may be seeing results from that one feature for years to come.
As always, we recommend taking a close look at your own goals for PR ahead of time, and then engaging with a professional team. If you have any questions about PR measurement, get in touch with us — we?d love to help.
This week’s resources include?Mark Suster’s commentary on some of the silent (but major) benefits of PR, conducting a competitive analysis for your content marketing, creating great content that keeps earning back-links long after it’s published, & more. How Startups can Build Long-lasting Media Relations: 10…
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Is it time to implement a PR strategy?
Successful PR requires good timing and self-awareness from founders. For startups in particular, it can be difficult to assess if it?s time to start acting on a PR strategy or hire a specialist or firm. In most cases, founders should avoid paying for PR help for as long as possible — especially if they have the bandwidth to start forming relationships with journalists from day one. ?Since we are often asked the question, ?How do you know when it?s time to pay for PR??, ?we?ve compiled a brief checklist to assess if the timing is right for PR. This list offers a starting point, not a one-size-fits-all conclusion. If you?re unsure about what comes next for your team?s PR strategy, get in touch with us. We offer complimentary one-hour PR ?audits? and can help you create a strategy and timeline.?
Want to learn more? Set up an appointment with us here.
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In this week’s Startup Digest Press & Storytelling newsletter: avoid hiring a PR firm with these strategies; how to know your tech startup is ready for PR; lessons learned from shameless HARO pitching; free Pixar classes via Khan Academy, and more.?Interested in getting the digest…
THIRA Health provides transformational programs for women and girls dealing with anxiety and depression. Earlier this year, we helped THIRA launch a new website and refresh their brand and logo. Our goal was to preserve their original brand concept, which is tied to their mission…
A re-post from our friends at?Screenchecker.?
Finding the right tool for the job is tantamount to success. Not only does it make your life easier, it makes your team more effective on a smaller budget and in less time. At ScreenChecker, we try to stay as lean as possible, so we invest a significant amount of time making the ?build, buy, or partner?? decision with nearly everything we do.
Before we ever set off to building something ourselves, we look for a tool or service that already exists and assess whether or not it meets our needs at a price point that makes sense.
But where do we find the options to choose from in the first place? The short answer: a few tools and sites that help us get a good picture of the landscape. From there, we are able to whittle down the options based on pricing, features, support, doing demos, etc.
Today, we want to share some of the places we use to compile data about what?s available in terms of tools for a specific task and?invite you to join my board on ProductHunt, where I?ll keep tracking new ones as they come in.
Method 1: Check out what other people are using
If you like what you see somewhere, chances are you can figure out what they employ to get the result you?re looking for. Here are a few tools and sites that will help you figure out what they?re using:
- Siftery.?An awesome site that allows you to browse the ?stack? of well-known companies and store your own.?Explore Siftery.
- WhatRuns.?An extremely well-built Chrome extension that will show you what technology is being used on any website. Get?WhatRuns.
- Other sites and extensions that work great:
Method 2: Community driven sites
- ProductHunt.?If you find even one tool or service that fits what you?re looking for, you can look it up on PH and find others that are ?related.? There is also typically good conversation in the comments where people will throw out other relevant solutions. Also, be sure to check out curated Product Hunt Collections. An expert has probably made a Collection covering just the type of solution you?re looking for and you?ll be able to start strong with a good list of options.?Go to Product Hunt.
- Quora.?Chances are, someone else has been looking for what you are and asked the question. The Quora community is great at sourcing different options, and often times reps from the companies you might consider get in on the conversation and talk about what they do best.?Example.
- alternativeTo.?In their own words, ?AlternativeTo?is a new approach to finding good software. Tell us what application you want to replace and we give you great alternatives, based on user recommendations.?
- G2 Crowd.?Really simple and really powerful.?Search one company you know?provides a solution you need and G2 will give you back similar ones as well as unbiased reviews on them.
- Meetup:?Sometimes just going to an?industry related meetup?and asking around will lead you down the right path. Find a relevant group and check it out. Worst case is you did some good networking.
- Slack Communities/Other Forums.?If you?re looking to source a list of options, sometimes asking can be the best way. Find a Slack community or other forum in that area and see if you can join. Most of these communities are happy to offer you options and tell you about their experiences. For example, I belong to the ?Online Geniuses? community and tools are often discussed.
Method 3: Look at the ?Integration? or ?App Directories? of well connected services.
These days it can be make or break for a tool or service to integrate with others. This means they will actively advertise what they work well with. By searching through these lists and directories for the type of tool you?re looking for, you can quickly build a great list to research more.
- Zapier.?There are ?zaps? to hundreds of services that you can look through without even setting up an account. I have found that if the service has a zap, they?re generally a smart team and probably have a pretty good product. The Zapier blog covers sorted lists of applications as well, so perusing their site is time well spent.
- Slack App Directory.?Everyone wants to work with Slack these days and as a result, their App Directory has become a treasure trove of tools and services. They break things down by category so it?s easy to find what you?re looking for.
- AppExchange.?Salesforce is one of the most connected services in the world. Their?AppExchange?is a full of tools and services neatly sorted into categories.
And many more (Hubspot, Hootsuite, etc). If there?s a component of your stack you know your new tool needs to work with, look to see if they have an integration list. This is a great way to eliminate noise and focus on the options that are going to work with your current toolset.
Method 4: Look at media sites and recent articles
Sites like CNET, TechCrunch, and others will usually cover big fundraising rounds, industry news, and review new products and services on a regular basis (including going to industry events to get the scoop on the latest). If you can track down a couple articles about an industry leader you?ve discovered in one of the steps above, chances are the author on one of these sites did some killer research and will list their greatest competition somewhere in their piece or their review.
Method 5: Comparison tools, articles, and review sites
I?m sure there are more to list here, but one of my favorites is?GetApp. You can select tools and services to compare as you move forward in your research, but the helpful portion in building that initial list is that they suggest others from their system similar to what you started with. For example, put in ZenDesk and FreshDesk will be offered as a viable option to compare features to. A couple others are?TrustRadius?and?Capterra!
I?ll cover this more in Method 7, but a simple web search for ?Company 1 vs.? will often bring up helpful articles that are rife with lists of other options purporting to be better.
Method 6: Gartner, Forrester, and other industry publications
This one can be really powerful, but I advise you not to spend a ton of money buying one of these papers unless you?re really stuck. A lot of times you can find the paper for free (in exchange for an email), provided by an industry leader that fared well in their review for the year. I also want to?provide a list of alternatives?that actually includes some of the sites we?ve already listed.
- Gartner.?These reports?are very robust and thorough, and help you see the landscape, give you insight on what?s to come, and more. These are great for looking ahead and making really big tech purchase decisions, but are probably too dense for smaller things. They graph companies on a cost and value chart, which can be really helpful as well. For the potential cost, I would exhaust other options first. My other caveat is that these can be slower to catch up. For example, a startup in the space that has stable funding and provides just what you need might not make the list. You?ll certainly be smarter for reading a Gartner report, but make sure you need it.?Pro tip: You can often dig up past editions and not pay for the latest version of their report.?
- Forrester.?Similiar to Gartner,?these reports?are expansive and detailed. If you need to know more about the industry and understand where it?s going, they can be a great resource.
Method 7: Good old Google
Sometimes just googling the right keywords (don?t worry, it can take some time to get the right ones down before you get great results) will bring up the top options. Don?t stop here though. Take a minute and Google the top company names that came up individually. Oftentimes their lesser known or newer competitors will have purchased AdWords to come up in the ad slots when you search the industry leader(s). And believe it or not, a simple ?Company 1 alternatives? search has led me to some great finds over the years.
Method 8:?Industry infographics, repositories
These can be harder to find, but if you do locate one, bookmark it. A couple good examples from the Martech world are?Growthverse?s interactive piece?and?Chiefmartec?s regularly updated infographic of marketing tools. Product Hunt typically features a lot of sites like this as well. A couple that come to mind would be this collection of?Saas Companies?from Latka and?Startup Stash?(featured on my?Startup PH Collection).
Bonus: The companies themselves
Oftentimes you can find more options by simply reading material from one of the companies you?ve already found. They may mention their competition somewhere, compare them in a blog post, or even explain on their homepage why they?re better.
Bonus: Official app stores
The Chrome extension marketplace, Google Play, the App Store, etc. all are pretty well sorted, so chances are you can find an applicable category and find a listing. Even if what you?re looking for is not an app, a company providing the tool or service you?re looking for may just have one.
I listen to?Side Hustle School?pretty regularly, and on a number of occasions have heard of new tools others are using. If you have a favorite that is particularly good for discovery, let us know in the comments.
A re-post from our friends at?Screenchecker.? Take those important emails out of the inbox and into Slack channels for the whole team to see and react to more quickly. Think important alerts, daily updates, and more. If you receive it as an email today, you…