How to Measure the Business Impact of Public Relations


Measuring business impact and lack of quantifiable metrics are the top challenges in public relations.

But not so for Jonny Bentwood, Global Head of Data & Analytics at Golin, who explains how to slay the business impact and lack of metrics dragons in this blog post and podcast.

To effectively measure the business impact of public relations, you need two things. First, you need quantifiable metrics. But second – and perhaps more importantly – you need to know how to present your metrics in language the C-Suite understands.

Jonny Bentwood’s PR Tech Data Stack

For getting your arms around the data and building the customer journey with public information, here’s Jonny’s premium PR Tech Stack:

  1. Listening: Talkwalker
  2. Data Visualization: Quid & Flourish
  3. Consumer Insights: Global Web Index & ComScore
  4. Test Messaging: Stickybeak
  5. Engagement Monitoring: Sprinklr &
  6. Online Influencer Intelligence: CreatorIQ & Onalytica

If you’re doing start-up PR and don’t have the budget for premium tools, Jonny also shared his preferred, free PR Tech Stack, which does all the same things:

Handling public relations at a company that’s doubling or tripling in size every year requires is kind of like parenting. Just as a child’s needs change as they mature, so do the PR needs of an organization as it transitions from start-up to change-up to scale-up and hopefully grown-up. Check out my new white paper on Growth Stage PR on mapping tactics by the client’s evolutionary stage if this interests you.

According to “The Great Hack,” a Netflix documentary released last summer, personal data is more valuable than oil. And clients are starting to realize that gut feel just isn’t good enough anymore.

Customer Journey Focus

PR has always wanted a seat at the boardroom table. But they’re talking about metrics like message pull through and share of voice to CEOs who are focused on revenue and margins. The CFO is interested in operating costs and making payroll, not impressions and click throughs. 

They’re all speaking different languages. 

Change the narrative by focusing on the customer journey because the lead to revenue path drives bottom-line value. 

Golin has a new CXPR practice designed to help customers along the journey.

Customer Journeys Validate KPIs

Customer journeys inform public relations strategies.  One retailer tied PR’s variable compensation to awareness and it went through the roof. But as awareness increased, purchase consideration decreased. 

Without a customer journey map, they never would have known this was happening. But by mapping out the path the customer takes as they move from awareness to consideration, they were able to figure out that their tactics were misguided. 

They needed to focus on raising purchase consideration, instead of just driving awareness, which was not a key performance indicator.

Marketers working to drive demand for considered purchases need to focus on B2B lead generation.

Biggest Data-Led PR Challenge

The hardest part is getting a hold of the client’s data, because often they don’t have it or know where to get it. 

The good news is, there are plenty of ways to use public data to build out the customer journey. Which means not only can you measure the customer journey for your clients, you can also measure the customer journeys of their competitors too. 

Analytics should be relative to your competitors. Use the same metrics to draw comparisons, even if you don’t have access to their private data. 

Google Trends is a great way to see if PR drives search volume and SimilarWeb is a good tool for measuring your competitor’s web traffic. 

There are literally thousands of tools out there you can use to understand customer journeys so don’t rely on just one. Use several and look for broader trends. 

Measuring PR’s Business Impact

Business impacts are not outputs. They’re not the amount of news coverage you secure. 

And vanity metrics like impressions and bounce rates aren’t business impacts. Nonsense metrics like ad value equivalency are a red herring. 

We need to go from outputs to outcomes. 

Measure and benchmark the customer journey. Show how you’re  plugging holes in the funnel and accelerating the lead to revenue path. These are real business impact metrics because they’re connected to revenue.

So the answer to solving the quantifiable metrics problem is understanding and improving the lead to revenue path. 

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