Is Your Brand’s PR Strategy Working? 8 Ways To Tell

Is your PR team deliv­er­ing the kind of impact your com­pa­ny needs?

Aly Saxe By Aly Saxe from CEO & Founder. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Pub­lic rela­tions has long been viewed as the mys­te­ri­ous side of mar­ket­ing spend. It’s unpre­dictable, it’s opaque, and it lacks the sol­id ana­lyt­ics that under­score sales and mar­ket­ing efforts – or at least that’s what peo­ple think. The truth is you can track the per­for­mance of your agency or in-house team to a sur­pris­ing­ly pre­cise degree. That includes assess­ing out­comes, detect­ing missed oppor­tu­ni­ties, iden­ti­fy­ing areas for improve­ment, and ensur­ing the team is using their bud­get wise­ly.

The method­ol­o­gy behind eval­u­at­ing PR teams real­ly isn’t all that mys­te­ri­ous with the right tools and the right prac­tices. Let’s take a look at which aspects of PR you can and should track, how to assess those num­bers, and when it’s time to look for a new team.

1. Align Your Measurements With Your Goals

Intel­li­gent eval­u­a­tion starts with under­stand­ing the PR team’s pur­pose. Do you want them to:

  • Pro­mote a spe­cif­ic ser­vice?
  • Ele­vate a CEO’s pro­file as a thought leader?
  • Boost media cov­er­age or mar­ket share over a cer­tain com­peti­tor?

You won’t use the same mea­sure­ments for every objec­tive, so make sure everyone’s on the same page in terms of strat­e­gy and align your met­rics to those goals. That includes on defin­ing a “win” in advance so that every­one agrees on eval­u­at­ing results.

2. Measure Performance As Well As Outcomes

How fast and effi­cient is your team? Results can look decep­tive­ly great until you mea­sure that return against the time and effort it took to get them.

Track your team’s time and see how effec­tive they are at max­i­miz­ing their bud­get. That will sug­gest if you could be see­ing high­er ROI with a stronger team.

3. Use Benchmarks

Let’s say your team places a byline arti­cle. You’ll want to mea­sure lead gen­er­a­tion and social engage­ment, obvi­ous­ly, but you’ll also want to place those results in con­text. That means you’ll also need data on the per­for­mance of sim­i­lar arti­cles, aver­age lead gen­er­a­tion and social sta­tis­tics and indus­try stan­dards.

If your team is about to launch a mas­sive, high-resource cam­paign, bench­marks from past sim­i­lar cam­paigns will help you pre­dict whether the cam­paign return will be worth those resources.

4. Look Past The ‘What’ And Into The ‘Why’

Too many teams record results and move onto the next cam­paign. But smart PR is about dig­ging into the why of the result.

Maybe one press release launched an avalanche of media atten­tion and anoth­er got crick­ets. Why did the sec­ond one fall flat? Why was the first one so effec­tive? Those insights are crit­i­cal for shap­ing future strate­gies.

Don’t for­get to share that new knowl­edge across the com­pa­ny; oth­er teams like sales or brand­ing might ben­e­fit.

5. Measure The Quality Of Your Wins

Look beyond the num­ber of men­tions the team cre­ates and look at what’s being said.

What’s the tone of the men­tion? Who said it? Are they influ­en­tial? Did the reporter under­stand the brand sto­ry?

Some­thing that’s absolute­ly cru­cial to under­stand: AVEs (ad val­ue equiv­a­len­cy) are of lim­it­ed use in this area. They might be able to mea­sure the cost of an ad sub­sti­tute but they can’t pre­dict the qual­i­ty of cov­er­age or any result­ing leads.

6. Size Up Their PR Expertise

A sharp PR team brings many qual­i­ties to the table and not all of them can be mea­sured empir­i­cal­ly. Dig into the team mem­bers’ strengths and see what they have to offer.

Do they have a gift for sto­ry­telling? What kind of rela­tion­ships do they have with influ­encers and local per­son­al­i­ties? Is their indus­try knowl­edge super­fi­cial or deep?

7. Evaluate PR Results Through Other Teams And Tools

No doubt you’ve got CRM sys­tems, con­tent man­age­ment solu­tions and mar­ket­ing automa­tion tools at your fin­ger­tips. Use them to track the suc­cess of PR ini­tia­tives to their role on the bot­tom line.

Maybe the social media team saw an arti­cle shared across mul­ti­ple plat­forms. Maybe the sales reps can con­nect a media men­tion to a spe­cif­ic num­ber of con­ver­sions.

With a lit­tle effort, you can even deter­mine the rev­enue dri­ven by one cam­paign. Mea­sure­ment tools can also help direct strate­gies, such as web ana­lyt­ics that reveal a cer­tain top­ic just isn’t engag­ing enough cus­tomers.

8. Make Sure You Speak The PR Language

Before you take your PR met­rics to your C-suite lead­ers, make sure you trans­late PR speak into terms they under­stand. Some­one who’s nev­er been immersed in pub­lic rela­tions can get lost in terms like hits and ana­lyst rela­tions and sen­ti­ment. Make sure you can trans­late results in a way that con­nects to over­ar­ch­ing busi­ness objec­tives.

On that note, be sure the PR team’s reports are framed in a way that tells both you and your lead­er­ship how they’re dri­ving goals and rev­enue for­ward.

Decide When It’s Time To Let Go

Some­times you’ll decide your PR team just isn’t deliv­er­ing the kind of impact your com­pa­ny needs. When you’re mak­ing this kind of tough deci­sion, be sure to look beyond met­rics.

Think about whether the team under­stands the brand strat­e­gy at the heart of their work. Con­sid­er whether they kept their promis­es to you and were proac­tive in car­ry­ing out the busi­ness objec­tives.

A PR team that’s clear­ly com­mit­ted to your suc­cess may just need bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion and a few process changes. But if both the results and the rela­tion­ship need work, it’s prob­a­bly time to move on.


The days of PR’s “mys­tery” are over. Busi­ness and mar­ket­ing lead­ers have the soft­ware and the tac­tics they need to accu­rate­ly eval­u­ate their pub­lic rela­tions teams and map out the inter­con­nect­ed role those teams play in the organization’s suc­cess. By look­ing at your team, you’ll bet­ter under­stand their results, as well as the pos­si­bil­i­ties for your future rela­tion­ship.

How do you tell whether your brand’s PR strat­e­gy is work­ing?

Aly Saxe

Written by Aly Saxe

CEO & Founder, CEO & Founder

Aly Saxe is the founder and CEO of Iris, software for agencies and in-house PR teams. She founded Ubiquity Public Relations, an agency representing high-growth B2B tech startups, in 2007. Follow her at @aly_saxe. Aly Saxe is the founder and CEO of Iris, software for agencies and in-house PR teams. She founded Ubiquity Public Relations, an agency representing high-growth B2B tech startups, in 2007.

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