8th January 2019

Does your PR reporting measure up?

Demonstrating ROI from your PR activity

With improving the ROI of their marketing topping the priority list of the majority of CMOs, it’s worrying that research from Forrester reveals that over three quarters of them (77%) also cite their inability to measure results as a top concern. Indeed, 82% of marketers report that they have no way to evaluate the return they receive on PR at all.

Driven by rising commercial pressures, metrics to demonstrate the effectiveness of PR activities continue to evolve. Where once simply stating circulation figures for media coverage would suffice, communications professionals (quite rightly) are now increasingly asked to report against a range of business-focused metrics, most notably contribution to sales.

How PR contributes to the B2B buying journey

Credible content remains a critical influence at every stage of a B2B sale as desire grows amongst prospects to protect anonymity and self-navigate the decision-making journey. With 78% of C-suite level B2B buyers consuming at least three pieces of content before any direct contact with a supplier, there’s a clear role for engaging PR material at this early stage to raise brand awareness and contribute to feeding the sales pipeline.

What CMOs are not quite so good at – by their own admission – is nurturing those hard fought for leads. The majority (86%) of respondents to Demand Gen Report’s 2018 Lead Nurturing & Acceleration Benchmark Survey rated their current lead nurturing initiatives as “average” or below, and just under half (44%) said that they “need improvement”.

With B2B buying cycles typically stretching over months, PR is an important weapon in every CMO’s armoury to continue positive reinforcement and education, creating a trusted relationship that leads to prospects becoming customers. Blogs, articles and reports by industry thought leaders are the most frequently turned to forms of content during research phases of the buying journey. And with multiple decision makers involved, it’s noteworthy that three quarters (74%) of C-Suite execs “often” share blogs with peers and colleagues.

At the sharp end of the sales funnel, ROI calculators (48%), case studies (40%) and independent assessments (40%) are the most valuable influences on final purchase decisions, as buyers demand insight into how solutions will benefit their business. Businesses neglecting the role of PR in sealing their sales deals are clearly missing a trick.

Reporting the PR metrics that matter to your business

So what should CMOs be tracking and reporting on to convince commercially-driven board members of the value of PR? Here are three good places to start demonstrating ROI from your PR activity.

Boost your web traffic
Prove the role PR content plays in driving leads to your website by using Google Analytics data to report on the number of referral sources generated from media coverage secured on third-party sites and social media posts, and the incoming traffic driven to hosted content such as blogs and reports. Through close collaboration with sales, you may also be able to track sales conversions from PR-generated leads and attribute actual or average sales revenue.

Boost your new business outreach

It makes sense to get as much traction out of high-quality media coverage as possible. Social media will maintain the momentum by promoting published articles and driving further enquiries to your website. Additionally, published articles can be used effectively by your sales and marketing teams to nurture leads by engaging with and educating prospects. Report the number of leads generated, either via anecdotal feedback from sales or through trackable links to your website in any information sent out.

Boost your organic search

PR and earned media have a critical role to play in your SEO strategy as trusted backlinks to your website are the most influential factor improving your search rankings. If your PR is effective in earning backlinks from trusted sites with high domain authority (such as a national news outlets), you should see an improvement in your own site’s domain authority, meaning your content will rank higher in search results and you can report an increase in inbound leads from organic search.