How to customize your PR measurement.

PR continues to tie results to outdated vanity metrics like advertising value equivalents (AVEs) and inflated impressions, but there’s a better way. Measure the ROI of your PR efforts by creating a proprietary reporting system that measures what’s important to the bottom line. Customizing your reporting takes some upfront thinking and planning, but it will give you a clearer picture of how PR is impacting broader business goals like brand awareness and share of voice.

For some inspiration, take a look at the two case studies below, where the organizations created their own reporting systems for one PR activity, media relations:


Molly McKenna-Jandrain, head of communications engagement at McDonald’s USA, shared during a Ragan Training session that McDonald’s rates media stories and mentions from one to three points in three key areas on their media analysis framework:

  1. Outlet: How relevant are the outlets to their audience? Rated on a scale from one to three.
  2. Visibility: What is the potential reach of each outlet? Rated above average to below average.
  3. Story type: What is the tone and content of the coverage? The article may highlight an emotional benefit (three), rational benefit (two) or just mention the product/brand (one).

Silicon Valley.

When Jason Lemkin was running EchoSign, he modified a scale used by Salesforce to arrive at a mathematical scale for measuring PR:

“We developed an almost Fibonacci-esque scale for all PR hits, from 1-15 (1,2,3,5,8,15). TechCrunch, WSJ, NYT were a 15. A 1 was a blog written by someone decent but with little traffic. Then our VP Marketing would assign targets in between. Then, we’d take a multiplier. x1 if EchoSign was just prominently mentioned in the piece. x3 if the article was solely about EchoSign. So all press/PR hits were worth from 1-45. Then, we’d track our progress in PR. The goal was to increase 20% Quarter-over-Quarter.”

How to create a valuable PR report.

As you work to create your own system, keep a few things in mind:

  • Don’t limit yourself. While the case studies above measure media relations, the PESO model (which incorporates Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned media) can help you think outside the publicity box when determining both strategies and outcomes to measure.PESO for measuring PR
  • Know your target audience. McDonald’s understands that for some campaigns, BuzzFeed outranks The New York Times. That’s okay. Have a solid understanding of how your target audience is absorbing and sharing information about your brand in order to determine what your top placements really are.
  • Understand the digital footprint. With so much of PR’s value existing online now, rather than in column inches, it’s important to measure what you can digitally. Page views, social media shares and referral web traffic are a few places to start.
  • Keep it simple. For monthly and quarterly purposes, we have developed scannable reports that key stakeholders can read on their phones, on the fly…like any other email newsletter in their inbox.



There is an element to PR that will always be difficult to measure and results are not always immediate, because you’re influencing perception. But that’s not a bad thing – it’s part of the power of PR. Just start by effectively measuring what makes sense for your business goals so that you’re able to communicate ROI to key decision-makers.

Leanne Prewitt

President & Chief Executive Officer

Shaped by her background in creative direction, Leanne leads the agency’s culture and creative vision and also oversees the operations that allow a team of marketing, design and media specialists to create powerful and effective work for their client partners.

Leanne began her professional career in New York City working for some of the nation’s leading agencies. In 2016, after a five-month sabbatical around the world, she returned to her hometown and joined Ervin & Smith. Her global perspective and expanded professional experience influence the work she does today.