No matter how successful a PR team may feel their efforts are, they can never be sure without properly measuring their work. And when it comes to measuring PR, there is a wrong and a right way.

Measuring PR can reveal smarter strategies, identify wasted budget, and help allocate resources where they’ll earn the most return. PR data creates a roadmap to a more efficient team and a more profitable future.

Can better measurement improve your PR performance? Three ways PR pros are failing to properly measure PR:


They use vanity metrics without context 

PR teams may think that as long as the campaigns are successful from the client’s standpoint, they’re doing things right. But if brand leaders take a closer look at the PR investment, it may reveal a different story. True ROI means measuring the outcomes from media placements, not just the vanity metrics -- such as impressions and UVMs -- on their own.

Ad value equivalencies are one of the most popular PR measurement crimes committed in the PR industry. Introduced into the PR industry in the early 2000s as a way to show ROI of PR, AVEs were quickly found to be faulty, unethical, and misleading, causing the PRSA and other industry leadership organizations to speak out against it.

Instead of focusing on what matters, a “value” set by an AVE is a crude assessment. It lacks the nuances that tell you if the right people saw the coverage, if it conveyed the right message, and if it inspired them to take action.

Accurate PR measurement takes into account the outcome of an initiative, such as an increase in brand awareness or sales, rather than the output. Any time spent reporting on AVEs deprives your team of real, valuable insight that drives better PR outcomes and proves value. The solution to eliminating vanity metrics and lowering the PR measurement crime rate? Intelligent measurement.


There are no set expectations

Success and failure cannot be determined without first understanding the point at which you’re starting from, and your goals. Often PR pros will get so wrapped up in the weeds of their work that they forget the importance of looking at past performance KPIs to see where they want to go.

Benchmarks use relevant comparisons and factual data to put results in context. They are the only valid reference points that can accurately evaluate performance of the actual effort being put out by the PR team. Business today is all about data-driven decisions – and benchmark data can identify which changes need to be made and which efforts are delivering dividends.

Yet a significant number of PR pros don’t know what benchmarks are, let alone why they’re valuable, and they’re not alone. One survey showed that only 35 percent of businesses used benchmarks. That same survey found that more than 90 percent of the benchmark-using companies rated themselves as successful, while just 71 percent of the non-benchmarking companies said the same.

One tip here: collect data over time and use it to create accurate benchmarks to shape future strategies. Even a failed campaign can deliver valuable insights. No PR team has a flawless batting record. Sometimes they’ll hit a homerun and sometimes they’ll strike out. The key to look closely at the hits and the misses alike to learn WHY. 


They are too stuck in old ways

Like any other industry, PR changes as the world changes, especially with technological advances. PR technology has radically changed the game for PR ptos. Today teams can choose from multiple incredible tools that can make a huge impact on PR management and performance, and help the team work more efficiently.

The PR industry is heading for a serious face-off with marketing agencies aiming for PR budgets. Implementing technology advancements is crucial to the future success of PR firms, helping transform processes around the management of day-to-day, core activity for PR firms to continue competing for, maintaining, and growing their budgets.



The right technology can streamline and help scale the work of PR teams, helping to drive more of the right kind of results, more often, and therefore, building stronger, longer-term bonds with constituents. By embracing automation in the PR world, teams can keep clients, leaders and each other performing at the top of their game.

Want to see how IrisPR makes all of this easy? Join your peers at our weekly webinar where we show how the software can help you get the most our of your PR investment. Or, watch a 5 minutes demo of IrisPR right now.

Topics: PR Best Practices Leadership Measurement