Measuring the success of PR and its impact on business is a highly debated industry topic, but mention digital PR and an already complex topic becomes further detailed. Public relations is a continually evolving animal which must move in tandem with the digital landscape. The overarching objective of public relations, whether it be print or digital, is not only to maximise exposure across a number of different mediums but is a part of the wider marketing picture. Digital PR sets out to lend insight over a digital platform, showcasing industry experts as thought leaders in their field.
Difficulties emerge when digital PR is implemented and measured in the same way as traditional, print PR. There are a number of factors to consider when measuring the success of a digital PR campaign, not least because the online nature of the coverage means that the success of a digital PR campaign is not just about online brand exposure. Different online publications and audiences mean that there are many different methods of measuring the reach and success of any given campaign.
Before analysing the success of a campaign, companies and individuals must first appreciate the difference between coverage and engagement. Coverage pertains to the total audience reached, regardless of demographics or industry background. Although achieving a high volume of coverage would do well for overall brand awareness (in broadcast media, for instance), this doesn’t necessarily translate into high engagement. Achieving a smaller volume of coverage in an industry-specific publication with a readership relevant to the target industry will result in much higher engagement, potentially a more valuable outcome as it means the PR content has resonated with the most people.
Website traffic is a significant factor at play and the search engine optimisation SEO component of a digital PR campaign can be almost as significant as overall audience coverage. Driving traffic to your website is like driving footfall to a brick and mortar store, the more traffic generated, the higher the chances of lead generation. Online users are less likely to click off and move on if an effective PR campaign catches their attention and creates purposeful engagement. The trick here is the quality and relevance of the online traffic and the engagement this drives for your digital PR campaign.
When you consider all the above factors, measuring the success of a digital PR campaign isn’t as simple as traditional, print PR. One must consider if a digital PR campaign is driving the right kind of online traffic to your digital platform. With PR being such a versatile instrument and with more and more campaigns moving online, strategies have to be analysed and aligned with the right target audience. Once this has been determined, coverage and engagement can then be measured to showcase the success of a digital PR campaign.