3 PR pros answer questions on media relations, KPIs, resources and more

Three PR professionals discuss KPIs and measurement.

In this post, Johanna Snickars, Head of Communications at Ericsson’s BA Technologies and New Businesses, and Nico Prins, Director of Outreach and PR at Accelerate Agency, share their insights. Also, Christoper Van Mossevelde, content marketing manager, gives the Mynewsdesk view.

Below are four questions we received and here are our answers.

1. Do you have any PR advice on how I can activate journalists?

Don’t forget the relations in public relations

Johanna Snickars: Don’t forget the relations in public relations. Noone likes mass communications, the least of all journalists.

It’s better to spend a minute on tailoring the message, content, and assets to the specific journalist. Refer to something they’ve shown interest in or written about before. It usually helps P2P (person-to-person), instead of a mass mail from an anonymous corporate email alias. The idea is to engage in a dialogue with the journalist.

I wouldn’t underestimate a quick call to pitch your story, or even a direct message on Twitter or Instagram can work. If you publish news somewhere, remind them to follow, for example, your RSS feed to get the latest updates. Also, ask which topics or stories interest them most. After all, relations never work one way–it needs to be a win-win. So work with offering exclusivity, provide assets they want or data and statistics–that’s a goldmine.

Use multiple touchpoints in your PR

Nico Prins: Journalists, especially those working for a large publication, are generally busy. While press releases can be effective, I recommend using multiple touch points to make a connection. The first step is to identify the key people you want to talk to. Assuming you can do this, connect with them through social media. I often use LinkedIn to pitch to editors.

You can back this up, and this is generally the best approach, with a phone call. With a bit of persistence, you can find a phone number for most publications. You need to be able to clearly sell your story in less than 60 seconds on the call, so practice your elevator pitch. In addition, make sure to ask the journalist about their interests, and the editorial calendar. You can use this information to help identify stories to pitch in the future.

My final tip is to try and make a personal connection with journalists. For example, I managed to secure a story for a client with a journalist from The Sunday Times, because I met him in person at an event. That face-to-face chat helped make my pitch more memorable.

Opt-in communication beats spray and pray tactics

Christopher Van Mossevelde: I agree with Johanne’s and Nico’s advice. I would add that with Mynewsdesk we believe in permission-based PR, meaning that we work hard on building up our opt-in database and number of newsroom followers. What’s great with our newsrooms is that you can choose to follow a brand or company you like and receive updates whenever they publish something new. We’ve seen that the open and click rates are also much better with newsroom follows than bigger email send outs. Generally, we don’t believe in ‘spray and pray’ tactics (mass emails). Instead, we think it’s better to send our news to those that want it, or to those that we have a relationship with.

2. If you would rate the five most essential KPIs in PR, what would they be?

Trust is the new currency. Without it, you’re toast!

Johanna Snickars: If you should start somewhere, I would look at the following:

  • Reach – Ensure you are reaching the desired target groups.
  • Brand – Measure awareness and sentiment, to see if your PR efforts have an effect.
  • Trust – Is the new currency. Without it, you’re toast. It takes a long time to build up but can be erased in seconds.
  • Spokespeople – Do they help with building the brand, trust, awareness and in the long run sales and customers? Are they viewed as experts and visible in the media (in comparison with competitors)?
  • ROE (return on engagement) – Crucial for measuring social media. Do you get engagement in social channels and reach your audiences where they are?

Measurements should be linked to your overall goals

Nico Prins: The measurements that you use to track your PR should be linked to your overall goals. This will change from company to company. Here are four generic measurements that I use. You can add an additional one or two measurements to this that are specific to your needs:

  • Branded traffic – If your PR campaign is successful, you should see an increase in the number of people searching for your company. You can analyze this if you break out branded traffic on Google Search Console.
  • Session quality – This is a quick KPI you can activate on Google Analytics. Essentially Google gives your traffic a value of 1-100 based on how much they are to engage with the website. It’s useful for understanding what channels are working best, and which publications you should focus on. You can only activate this metric if you run PPC with Google Adwords.
  • Transaction probability – This is a metric that you can activate on Google Analytics if you run an e-commerce site. It’s useful for understanding the likelihood of a person buying by channel, i.e. social media or other.
  • Brand sentiment – There are a range of third-party tools available that you can use to analyze brand sentiment, as well as keep tabs on what people are saying about your brand on social media.

Focus on baseline metrics and benchmark

The video above shows quickly the analytics and measurement dashboard of a Mynewsdesk newsroom. 

Christopher Van Mossevelde:  At Mynewsdesk, we look at three things:

  • Reach – Here we look at how many people read our content? Also, we look at the number of opened emails, subscribers and traffic sources.
  • Engagement – It’s important to look at the average time spent per page to understand traffic quality and engagement levels. Also, you need to look at whether or not people are interacting. For example, are they liking, commenting and sharing your stories on social media?
  • Results – Lastly, look at the effect your content has for lead generation and sales. How much media coverage and brand building do you get?

Creating baseline metrics from which you can improve on is essential in measurement, as is benchmarking your results to competitors.

A baseline metric is an average result for any KPI you follow. For example, what are your average open rates for emails?

Another thing is benchmarking your results to your competitors. Getting an understanding of just how well you are performing in your industry is crucial. Below is an example of how Mynewsdesk, for example, is performing in the advertising and PR space (quite well I think).

The video above shows quickly the benchmarking feature of a Mynewsdesk newsroom. 

3. With a minimal budget for PR, where would you put your efforts?

Nico Prins: I recommend you start by analyzing what channels are providing you the best return for your investment and time. Focus 80% of your efforts on your best performing channel, use your remaining capacity to experiment with different channels.

Christopher Van Mossevelde: Put your efforts in serving your readers with relevant information. Make sure your content addresses their informational needs or that it inspires, educates or entertains.

4. What’s the formula in PR for measuring the worth of an article?

Nico Prins: The easy way to measure the value of an article is to track traffic across your website. If you do this correctly, you will be able to see the entry point for traffic, and the percentage of that traffic that converts, or takes an action that you feel is valuable–this could be anything from buying a product, through to a person opting into your email list.

Putting conversion tracking in place can help you to figure out how much an article on your site is worth to your business. This is really useful information that you can use to help you identify topics to write about, but also for human resource planning.

Christopher Van Mossevelde: There isn’t an exact science for this. Following the Barcelona Principles, advertising value equivalency (AVE) is no longer considered a proper way of measuring the worth of PR. Instead, the industry recommends that organizations look at the outcomes generated versus outputs. That is to say, for example, ‘Did your communication contribute to improving the reputation of your business?’

I also agree with Nico, though; measuring the traffic an article generates and, even better, conversion rates are probably more beneficial than measuring AVE.

To learn more about how to measure and analyze your PR, please watch our webinar discussion below.

Johanna Snickars (Head of Communications at  Ericsson’s BA Technologies and New BusinessesEricsson), Anders Thorén (Press Officer, Löfbergs), Nico Prins (PR Director, Accelerate Agency) and Christopher Van Mossevelde (Content Manager, Mynewsdesk) discuss PR measurement and analysis. Watch the webinar.

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