PR Measurement Best Practices




PR measurement is one of the most important elements of a solid communications strategy in 2022. Supporting PR decisions with data is no longer a luxury, but an expectation from the C-suite. Measuring helps you define, track and prove the success of communications.

But often, PR measurement is disorganized, spontaneous, or not given much thought, and many communicators find it too complex. Not surprisingly so — typically, PR pros don’t have data and measurement backgrounds or training.

In our new blog series, we will provide tips and guidelines for setting communication goals, measuring success, and establishing processes. These practices can be helpful for beginners in the field of data science for communications.

Create a PR measurement plan with the end in mind

Starting with the end in mind is key not just for PR and communications, but also for business in general. You must define what success will look like, develop the right strategy and measure how well you’re doing.

This means that planning must be part of PR measurement, and measurement must be part of the plan. According to the AMEC (International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication) Integrated Evaluation Framework, planning ahead begins by asking two “big picture” questions:

  • What is the human problem you’re trying to solve?
  • What is the business impact you’re trying to achieve, and how can communications realistically contribute towards it?

When you want to solve a human problem, think about why you need a communication strategy in the first place. Listen to your audiences and stakeholders — how do they define their key needs and challenges? What keeps them up at night? This will help you create a solution that connects with your audience. It will also help you tell your story in a way that appeals directly to your key readers.

Next, consider the desired business impact of your communications plan.

How you define it depends on your industry, your business and how your organization measures its overall success. Traditional PR metrics like brand awareness and share of voice are important for evaluating performance. However, it is now equally, if not more, important to connect communication efforts to tangible business impact.

As a best practice, we recommend following the AMEC Integrated Evaluation Framework, which outlines four forms of PR measurement:

Source: AMEC website,

  • Outputs: what you produce that is received by your target audiences, including the volume and quality of your media coverage, social posts, number of events and event attendance, and message pull-through.
  • Out–takes: how your audiences respond and react to your communications outputs, such as shifts in attention, awareness, understanding, learning, interest, engagement and consideration.
  • Outcomes: long-term influence of your communications on your target audience as a result of the out-takes, including attitude change, satisfaction, trust, preference, intention and advocacy.
  • Impact: business impact of your communications with a direct contribution toward the organization’s goals as a result of your outputs, out-takes and outcomes, such as improved reputation, increased sales, change in policy, or improved social change.

Tie communications objectives to business goals

We have seen this best practice work really well for Onclusive clients over the years. Teams with clear goals and metrics that assess progress can achieve better results and contribute to corporate strategy.

“Measurement is the final ingredient to help PR realize its potential.”

~PRCA Director General and ICCO Chief Executive, and AMEC Chair and Global Strategy Consultant, Prime Research

As you are considering your communications objectives, take the time to review your organization’s overall business goals. Your executive team likely focuses on several key objectives. These include acquiring and retaining customers, growing market share, establishing new market categories, boosting brand engagement, and achieving revenue targets.

The communications function should support organizational success in some way that is clear to you and your C-suite. Ask yourself: how can you align PR objectives for your brand with these business goals? For example:

  • Earned and owned media can tie website traffic and desired actions to acquiring customers.
  • Creating connections with media outlets that share impactful educational stories can lead to increased interest and establishing a new industry category.
  • Getting people to engage with articles, like sharing them on social media, helps build a strong brand connection.

Next week, we will share part 2 of the PR Measurement Best Practices. We will discuss examples of measurement frameworks and tools to measure communication effectiveness.

To see these best practices in action join Onclusive for the Demystifying PR Measurement on-demand webinar. Our experienced communication leaders will discuss how focusing on measurement has helped them become strategic advisors to top executives. They will also share success stories from using their own best practices for PR measurement.

Signs your PR Measurement could be better…