The Value of PR Measurement – Part 1

I intend this to be the first of a series of posts about the challenge of PR Measurement.

The transparency of the Online Media World has brought with it greater opportunities to observe and measure the impact of PR, and often at a much lower cost than the equivalent offline measurement.

At Measurement Camp last week (which was great by the way, just wish it wasn’t a 600 mile round trip!) I was struck by the fact that though there was some *very* good work presented there were no pound notes in any of the resulting measures.

In my experience (and for those real experts out there please correct me if I am wrong!) PR measurement often seems to focus on the following four areas: activities, qualification, indicators and actions.





Relevant coverage on publications, tweets about your announcement/brand, YouTube views, downloads.

Indicate that PR activity has made an impact.


Twitter followers, readership of publication, authority of blog, Page Rank. These can then be further distilled into overall measures.

Assess potential influence of these activities.


Referrals to your website from a particular piece of coverage or Twitter activity; increased positive sentiment compared to the position prior to the PR campaign; relative impact compared to other campaigns.

Indicate the likelihood that the activities measured will result in a desired response of some kind either now or in the future


Lead generation, sign ups, attendance at an event, sales.

Actual desired responses that resulted.

These are all important and useful measures of performance and they allow us to build models to further refine our evaluation, but the one thing they still don’t “measure” (or perhaps quantify is a better word?) is Value.

Value needs to be stated in pounds – or dollars, euros etc depending on your country of origin :-)  It is only in doing this that actual return on investment can be calculated and PR’s true worth to an organisation estimated.

Actions should in theory be relatively straightforward to value. Take the simple example of lead generation. If a campaign has resulted in X number of leads the client should (hopefully – tracking depending) be able to supply the PR professional (agency or inhouse) with relevant information about resulting conversion rates and sales values as well as the cost of generating equivalent sales from other means.

This would allow the PR professional to calculate both the sales return on investment generated as well as the relative cost of generating sales from this type of activity.

More sophisticated measurement can also use data from some of the first three sources to help to correlate the observed activities and indicators with resulting actions when the linkage is not as direct as say a website referral.

But what about the situation where the desired response is less tangible and is more about improving relationships and reputation rather than something as direct as lead generation? The first three measures can be used to assist with this but are harder to give a monetary value to.

People try/have tried to value these Activity based measures e.g. Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE), but such valuations aren’t measuring the value that the PR has created for the organisation, rather they are trying to measure the value of the activities that have occurred. These two things are not the same. Also the way that online advertising and publishing works makes any online AVE calculation even more spurious IMHO.

I think some of the answers to valuing these “softer” areas may lie in the world of accountancy and this will be the subject of my next post.