5 PR KPIs That Actually Matter: Tracking the Data That Gives You Actionable Insights to Grow Your Business

May 5, 2021

How do you measure the value of a news story? It’s a question that has flummoxed both public relations professionals and their clients for years. In a data-driven world where marketers have instant access to “buy now” clicks and coupon redemptions, reporting on earned media impressions and the number of hits will not be enough to win over the C-suite. So, how do you prove the value of PR?

It’s important to start by identifying your objectives, so you can build the right mix of key performance indicators (KPIs). Some examples of PR objectives are:

  • Build brand awareness
  • Promote social conversation or engagement
  • Launch a new product or service
  • Optimize SEO
  • Encourage product trial

With your objectives clearly outlined, you can begin to identify which KPIs will best tell you if your PR efforts are providing a strong return on investment. Below are five KPIs that you can use to determine if PR is moving the needle for your business.

Website Traffic

Time to buddy up with your Webmaster. One of the most concrete ways to measure the impact of a PR campaign is to see how its content and news stories are influencing your website. Using Google Analytics, you can view how much site traffic is a result of PR, and how many visitors are purchasing your products online as a result.

As an example, we secured a prominent holiday gift guide placement in the Wall Street Journal for a client who saw a 3.45% lift in total website traffic during the week following the article.

Competitive Share of Voice

In addition to understanding how your media coverage is impacting your business, it is equally important to gain insight into what this may look like among your competitive set. What percentage of media stories reference your brand versus your top competitor? This will give you an idea of how much room you have to grow, and if you could be capturing additional sales through an earned media program that garners coverage of your brand over another.

You can also come away with intel on your competitor’s marketing strategies. If you notice big, short spikes in media coverage, you can guess that they are not establishing quality reporter relationships, which could give you the upper hand if you invest in an always-on media bureau approach.

Key Message Pull-Through

This metric is especially important for brands who engage in a lot of audience education, especially for young brands just launching a new product or for brands in an industry that is not commonly understood. At the start of your program, identify the key messages you would like to be in every news story. This may include images, product attributes or your company website link. As you track the percentage of coverage that includes these messages, you’ll gain an understanding of the value PR is bringing.

Type of Media Placements

Not all media placements are created equal. Are you showing up as a brief mention in a round-up of competing brands? Or is the journalist writing an in-depth feature on the unique way you bring your product to market? Developing benchmarks for how often your brand is mentioned versus featured in media can help you measure the quality of stories you are securing.


Finally, impressions have long been the industry standard for measuring PR efforts and are broadly defined as how many times a news story or piece of content is viewed. Metrics like the circulation of a print publication, unique monthly visitors to your website or broadcast viewership are commonly used in this reporting. This measure helps gauge overall awareness. However, it can be easily inflated. We recommend using impression trends as a long-term guide to help judge how often you are being seen in media.

Making the Most of a News Story

Before you look at your PR dashboard and call it a day, remember there are more ways to get value out of news story. Once a story appears, be sure to share it on social media, include a link in your next employee newsletter and share it during a customer meeting. To learn more about amplifying media coverage check out our blog post.

At Wilks Communications Group, we use data to help businesses grow. Click here to download our helpful guide that gives you actionable insights to help grow your business, and email us at to learn more about how we can help your business succeed with KPIs.


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