Public Relations is an important element of a B2B brand’s toolkit with which to go to market. But measuring success in PR is elusive. Most PR folks measure the quantity of deliverables (e.g., placements). But the real science is measuring PR’s contribution to the overall marketing mix and, ultimately, the business. This is particularly important in larger organizations where PR and Marketing are usually run by separate leaders.

Here are a few keys to measure your PR success in the context of overall marketing / comms contribution to your business.

PR is Part of Marketing
From a business driving set of activities, PR / Comms is part of the go to market revenue-generating engine. Sales, Customer Support, Marketing, Advertising are also elements to name a few others. PR should be measured in that context. It contributes to the top line and improves (or detracts) from NPS. All other PR Measures are accretive up to these two business goals.

At TBM to measure marketing success, we use a Goals > Objectives > Tactics approach (see sample below) that aligns PR (as a tactic) into the overall context of business success metrics (goals). Goals eventually roll up to business and revenue outcomes. Don’t be fooled if PR leaders tell you otherwise. A mention in the Wall Street Journal is not a sustainable go to market strategy.

Sentiment over Reach
While quantity is important to understand the reach of your PR placements, it isn’t a way to measure the impact PR has on your business. For this we recommend sentiment analysis of the articles, social posts, comments on social and so on that include your brand. But it needs to be in the context of your industry and competitive set.

There are many tools out there that can measure sentiment in an automated way to get at your brand and message sentiment insights at scale. But, one piece of advice, use one toolset for this analysis across all your marketing activities. It will enable you to view sentiment in context of other activities using the same approach or methodology to rule that out as the variable.

Reach Is an Index
Tactically, we need to understand the impact our messaging is having on our audiences (or ICPs). To do this properly, we need to measure reach. But not reach in terms of audience size or impressions, but reach as a fraction of your designed ICPs by media outlet or platform. That is to say, your ICPs read trade or business publications (or attend industry events that have incremental publication distribution). You need to understand those audiences by publication in the context of your ICPs. Build an audience insights calculator by ICP / Segment by Publication by Medium (e.g., Web). This should be the foundation for any reach based analysis. But this in only the first step.

Second, we need to measure changes in behavior. Can we answer: Of the traffic that is generated to my brand (e.g., website, social media page), what is the percentage of those people that engage in some way? Now the calculated index is engaged ICPers / total pub reach. Then we need to take that calculation for all articles that appeared and using sentiment analysis above forecast the impact those activities have to our NPS and Pipeline (then revenue). Build this framework into your marketing dashboards to understand the role of PR (and social) in the context of your marketing mix.

The net, net is many PR folks articulate their value as tactical outcomes (e.g, quantity). But really PR needs to be measured in terms of business outcomes. The above are three ways to get at that insight.