On the first day of my university degree, I was told by my lecturer that as a PR pro, one of the hardest tasks you will face is measuring the effectiveness of your PR activity and showing the client how you have made them a return on their investment. Sound familiar?
In this guest post for Google Analytics, Leta Soza sums up the downside that PR people have had to face in recent years due to the lack of PR measurement:
“PR pros have always had to rely on less than stellar metrics (AVEs, impressions calculations, etc.) to show ROI, and with seemingly no viable reporting alternative, PR has basically been relegated to the budgetary back seat.”
So since that first lecture nearly 9 years ago, not only has our target audiences grown to outwit us, thanks to the digital age, but what brands want to achieve and measure has also changed.
“The target audience we aim to reach through our communications today has never been less engaged in advertising, they’re online, marketing savvy and make purchases on their terms. The best service, purpose and recommendation wins.
Brands have to earn their trust to make sales in today’s market no matter what industry we’re considering. It’s no surprise that of the 9 million people that go to Google everyday 80% of them click on the ‘earned’ natural search results rather than the adverts at the top or the right side of the page. This generation wants to see quality content that’s earned its place in their search results. They only want to engage with brands, products and services that have been recommended by influencers they trust not the ones that the brands think they look up”
(Courtesy of Stella Bayles’ PR Digitial Resoltuion. Read more here)
As a PR it is important to learn new skills and adapt with the times. So whilst learning about SEO there was one thing that was constantly niggling at me…
PR agencies invented earned recommendations in the forms of press coverage pushing up organic brand searches, online product reviews by bloggers earning authentic consumer trust and shopping features with direct links to site driving traffic. PR pros are the OG’s of SEO link building.
These quality back links from ‘industry influencers’ – aka bloggers and journalists in your industry – are not only extremely relevant but are the Crème de la crème of what experts refer to as ‘link juice’ to catapult you up the ranks.
However, it’s not until recently that it has been explained to PR pros (and brands) in this manner.
So with the technological advances of Google analytics and wealth of SEO and measurements tools, PR pros are now able to effectively join the dots between activity, brand awareness and press coverage to conversions and ROI. Finally we are able to answer the question “How effective is my PR?”
So how do we go about showing these results to brands and measuring our PR activity?
There are 3 sides when it comes to valuing the press coverage you receive:
1. Conversion of sales directly from the article:
This varies massively from the quality of article, position on the page, hyperlinks, etc.
Some clients report having sold out of products from some articles (both print and online) – others report no sales but then value for the other reasons below. The beauty of online coverage is that the link is there for a long time so referral traffic and sales are much longer term than print.
2. SEO impact of PR:
A few years ago, all types of back links were considered good for SEO, but those days are long gone with the launch of Google’s Panda & Penguin updates. Nowadays the most important way to move up the Google rank is by generating high quality and relevant links – which is where PR shines as they are the most valuable, natural and highest quality of links. We focus on good quality and relevant back links by working closely with the client as well as reviewing their Google analytics data.
3. The association with strong brands:
You can get huge mileage from your press coverage by sharing your features on your website / customer newsletters / social media, especially if you have been featured in the top titles like Living etc, Sunday Times, Bright Bazaar etc.
People recognise those brands and associate you with them, driving trust and authority. This is tough to measure but you can see a good example here: made.com’s home page and see how they are using their PR quotes & the publication’s logos.
However, as lovely as it is to see big data and pretty graphs detailing how many conversions one piece of coverage has achieved, it is crucial to not get hung up on the technical insights and ensure that your PR activity remains natural and authentic.
It’s definitely not about planting links, but about making sure that press material is focused at the right publications, bloggers and target audience to enhance your brand. For example, we can focus press material to push particular products / product groups – but again, a blogger only features what is appropriate for them and therefore it’s a natural link that is worth its weight in SEO gold for the long haul.
zero2one now offers SEO PR services. For more information, please get in touch.