Attribution: The Most Valuable Tool PR Pros Aren’t Using



Posted: In: Blogs, Industry Insights & Trends PR Education


Everyone has heard the phrase “Give credit where credit is due,” but because public relations departments have long lacked comprehensive attribution models, it’s been difficult to correlate data to success and provide actionable results. Improved awareness and enhanced reputation are intangible goals, and their measurement is even more difficult to grasp, especially in the ever-changing digital world in which we live.

As budgets tighten, the inter-departmental competition for company dollars becomes extremely competitive. So how can a PR department stand out and get C-level buy-in? They must demonstrate how they’re helping their company reach and exceed its business objectives. The best way to do this is through attribution.

Attribution is the lifeblood that keeps a PR department thriving and off the chopping block. This article is your introduction to pairing the art of public relations with the science of measurement to impact your business. For a more in-depth look at PR Attribution, download our free eBook.

What PR Attribution brings to the table

Public relations is the relationship between an organization and the public, but the digital era makes the dynamics of this relationship increasingly one-sided. Today, customers are able to remove information and communication that they find of little value or annoying with near surgical precision. To connect with today’s savvy customers, you must seamlessly and unobtrusively join their stream of information.

Before proper attribution, the data from PR activities stayed largely at the top-of-the-funnel. As a communicator, you relied on impressions metrics, like how many articles were written about your brand or overall readership of those publications. As a result, the PR industry has become accustomed to “noise data,” such as advertising value equivalency (AVE) and impressions; fortunately, attribution helps clear the fog. Focusing on the stats that truly showcase how your department is moving the needle will further cement the importance of PR in your company.

PR attribution, however, takes PR analytics to the next level; it provides data that depicts how your efforts directly impact the customer journey and contribute to end results, like acquiring new customers. Once you become an expert in analyzing this new data through PR attribution, your ability to gain valuable insights from previous results will help create goals and anticipate data trends.

By understanding the effectiveness of your efforts, you can make data-driven decisions moving forward and provide leadership with what they want to see, including the gold-standard goal for executives: Return on Investment.

How to implement PR Attribution

With the other priorities on your plate, implementing PR attribution can seem daunting, but by breaking it into actionable tasks, even the busiest communicators can begin to see positive impact in no time. Below are five steps to implement PR attribution:

  1. Identify business goals: Define success in terms of actions you want customers to take after reading content.  
  2. Gain support from executives: Explain why enhancing your metrics is necessary, especially for ROI reporting.
  3. Select and secure tools: Find the solution that helps you achieve your unique business goals and keeps you on budget. Check out AirPR Analyst to get started.
  4. Execute: Create a timeline to assign task owners, train team members, and integrate the tools into your systems.
  5. Iterate: Share team success and let the value of your new system be known.

Implementing PR attribution is not the finish line: it is just the beginning. Almost as important as implementation, monitoring and refining your new PR strategy will also provide tremendous value to your PR lifecycle.

For additional details, graphs, and insights on utilizing PR attribution in your business, download our eBook today. From choosing target publications and article topics to identifying trends and patterns, attribution is no longer just a secret tool for marketers.

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