How to Quantify PR Impact through Custom Scoring

When companies talk about the impact of marketing efforts, they are quick to point to sales metrics like deal volume and quarterly earnings. Sales is a critical component of marketing, but oft-overlooked PR efforts are equally critical to customer attraction and retention. PR teams that quantify their efforts can demystify their work while commanding the respect and room in the budget they deserve.

Stepping Out of the Sales Team’s Shadow

PR’s domain is at the top of the funnel. Earned media campaigns plant the seed of the product or service in customers’ heads, sometimes years before they ever need to make a purchase. Sales works its magic at the bottom of the funnel. The average B2B customer is 70% of the way through the decision-making process by the time they interact with a sales representative. The average B2C customer is even further through the funnel by the time they connect with Sales. Data suggests that 81% of retail shoppers research a product or service online before making a purchase.

Though both Sales and PR serve important and often complementary roles in a company’s overall marketing strategy, the comparatively nebulous nature of earned media initiatives makes it difficult to pin down the exact value of PR efforts. Communications professionals know that Sales and PR are key components of marketing that depend on one another for success. To convince the rest of the company, they have to speak the same language as Sales. Custom scoring—the practice of assigning numbers to various elements of a PR strategy—can help prove the concrete value of earned media contributions.

Tools and Metrics to Quantify PR Impact

Custom scoring is just that, custom. Numeric values assigned to different campaign elements vary according to goals, budget size, and other factors unique to the specific company or campaign. PR teams are encouraged to select relevant tools and metrics, then adjust values accordingly.

Below are a few tools and metrics to help PR teams begin to measure their impact through custom scoring:

  1. Backlink Tracking – Note who is linking to your website and how. What’s the reputation of the referring domain? When was the link published? What’s the anchor text used? These are all important questions to ask when tracking and assigning value to backlinks.
  2. Media Coverage – Media coverage is every PR team’s goal, but things like publication and content type (is it a byline or one of many expert quotes in a larger article?) matter. Assign values according to publication profile, audience and content type for an accurate assessment of media coverage.
  3. Media Reach – A well-crafted press release is wasted if the press doesn’t pick it up! Calculate the reach of podcast appearances, publications and other mediums to gauge the percentage of the population that is aware of your company, products and services.
  4. Share of Voice – TikTok. Instagram. Podcasts. Today’s PR teams are going toe to toe with competitors in a media landscape that keeps introducing new battlegrounds. Share of Voice—calculated by taking an important metric, such as media reach, dividing it by the mentions of all brands in the same industry, then multiplying that number by 100—can reveal the percentage of media attention the company garners.  
  5. Sentiment Analysis – Think there’s no such thing as bad press? Think again. Sentiment analysis can show the public reception of different initiatives. It is especially important to perform sentiment analysis in the aftermath of a crisis, as crisis communications can make or break a company’s reputation.

After tracking the success of elements listed above for a set period of time, PR teams can add all scores together to find the overall value of their efforts.

When it Comes to Sales, Aim for Collaboration, Not Competition

Measuring the efficacy of different PR strategies can help PR teams uncover what’s working and what’s not for more informed campaigns moving forward. Numerical proof of earned media success can also illustrate the critical function of PR. This can go a long way in convincing management and Sales that PR efforts are an equitable contributor to company success. The desired outcome of a custom scoring initiative is a collaboration with Sales, not a competition. After all, Sales and PR share a goal: inspiring customers to make a purchase.

By Alannah Dragonetti

These insights were compiled based on discussions and tips featured in the May 27, 2022, Meltwater webinar, “How PR Can Prove Its Impact on Sales.” Speakers included:

  • Nadav Avidan, AppsFlyer
  • Alice Hogg, Meltwater
  • Philippa Dodds, Meltwater

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.