Quantifying the Impact: PR KPIs for Modern Marketing

posted on July 02, 2024
Quantifying the Impact: PR KPIs for Modern Marketing

Measuring the impact of PR efforts has long been a challenge for marketers. Now that we understand how to navigate the modern B2B landscape, it’s time to dive into Part 3 of this 3-part KPIs for Modern Marketing series. Learn what KPIs can help you unlock valuable insights and prove the ROI of your PR investments.

There are a mix of KPIs brands can use to measure brand awareness and PR success. In this post, we will break down how brands can quantify the ROI of their PR investment. It all centers around reach and relevance.

Aided and Unaided Awareness 

If you aren’t a household brand, or you’re in a new or emerging category like many of our clients at Escalate, chances are a majority of the market won’t know you or what you do. 

Unaided awareness or brand recall looks at the percentage of target consumers that know your brand without any kind of prompting. For example, a question to measure unaided awareness might ask “When you think of a pizza delivery brand, which ones come to mind?” It’s also important to look at the order in which the respondent listed the brands they know. Are there any patterns?

For aided brand awareness, you’re measuring the percentage of respondents that are aware of your product, brand, or advertising when asked. Aided awareness questions are only asked if the respondent fails to mention the brand unaided. An example of a question is “Which one of these pizza delivery brands do you know?” The survey is using a randomized list of brand names to prompt the respondents and measure aided awareness.

Branded Search Traffic

Branded search traffic is exactly as it sounds – the visitors coming to your website based on branded keywords (Escalate PR for example) they put in Google or another search engine. Branded traffic tends to be a brand’s most qualified prospects. Since their search started with your brand name, it demonstrates 3 things: awareness, interest and intent, three things every sales team wants in an prospect opportunity.

Be careful not to set the expectation that brands will see the same hockey stick to the right you see in the early startup days when the only direction you can go is up. As the market matures, more competitors will enter the space, making it harder for brands to capture mindshare.

Earned Media Impressions

Impressions really measure exposure and scale. Are you casting a wider net in the right areas to shore up more awareness and word of mouth. To measure this, you basically look at the audience size. If it’s a website or blog, that’s unique visitors per month. If it’s broadcast or podcast, it’s viewers and listeners.

Brand Prominence

Did you know 80% of readers never make it past the headline? That’s what makes this metric such an essential part of measuring the effectiveness of your earned media. To do this, you look at what % of total earned media had the brand name in the headline or first paragraph? 

Look at headlines like this one in The New Stack from an announcement Escalate partnered with Chronosphere on. The story wasn’t about an acquisition, it was about Chronosphere expanding its logging capabilities. The team was able to get the brand name and the key message about logs in the headline.

Media Outlet Relevancy

Yes, PR teams can cast a wider net but are you fishing in the right ponds?. Identify your top 25-100 media outlets based on who the brand needs to influence. Then report back quarterly and annually on the % of target outlets where coverage was secured. 

Message Resonance

A former Chief Product Officer and a mentor of mine once taught me the 3X3 method – a process he adopted in product design. It’s not rocket science but the idea behind the framework is that it forces product designers (and communicators) to answer the three most critical questions in the most simple and persuasive way: what, why and how. If the message is too hard to understand it won’t stick. Message resonance is all about putting something out there in the hopes others say it back. Brands can have corporate and campaign-level messages they are measuring. The formula is simple: does the story include one or more key messages and what % of total earned coverage has message resonance?

Take this earned media push we did for Ditto, for example. It wasn’t just corporate news, it was really Ditto signaling to the world that its platform is moving beyond the aviation industry and into other sectors like restaurants and hospitality. The team worked with the CEO and head of marketing to develop three key messages for an upcoming partnership announcement with Chick-fil-A.

  1. Retailers are driven to digital transformation…again.
  2. Limited internet connectivity is hindering digital transformation. 
  3. Cloud-optional and edge computing is the future of retail.

The team secured an exclusive with the Wall Street Journal. The resulting article, “Businesses Look Beyond the Cloud to Run Software,” was an informative look at cloud-optional technology and how it solves some of the cloud’s biggest challenges. It featured quotes from Ditto’s CEO, Adam Fish, and two of its customers: Chick-fil-A and Alaska Airlines. The team also scored several pieces of coverage in key restaurant trade publications, including QSR Magazine and QSRweb, and an interview with Pulse 2.0. To top it off, Ditto was invited to write contributed articles for Hospitality Technology and QSR Magazine to further dive into the benefits of cloud-optional technology for quick service restaurants (QSR). 

Online Brand Sentiment

Sentiment looks at whether a story in the media, or other conversations happening across social media and online, are positive, neutral or negative. Reporting tools like Muck Rack can automatically calculate a sentiment % based on keywords in an article. Other tools like Sprout Social can tell brands if the conversations happening about them online are both growing and good or bad for the brand. You can’t fix what you can’t see. Get the tools to identify sentiment patterns before the beast becomes too big to wrangle. Same when your customers celebrate you online thank them – what you put into your brand advocates you’ll get back tenfold.

Customer Advocacy

Word of mouth matters more than ever before. I believe one happy customer can bring a brand 50 more, especially when the internet has enabled buyers to have complete price and experience transparency. As buyers, B2C or B2B, we all start our journey on a similar path. We ask a friend or we ask the internet. What we get in return, is an instant report card on how well a brand is – or is not – meeting customers’ expectations. How is the brand handling reputation management online? Is there a scalable process and cross functional infrastructure in place to quickly engage with customers who complain on social media and triage them to support? Does the sales team have the right mix of testimonials and other social proof to drive prospects to convert? With focus and investment, brands can turn brand detractors into brand promoters and promoters into raving fans who tell others about the company.

Social Engagement

Social engagement looks at the number of times followers engage with your content – aka likes, comments, shares and reactions. It can be easy to grow a follower base, but keeping engagement high helps brands assess if they are attracting the right audiences with the right content. With trackable links, it’s easy to follow that traffic to the website and down the funnel.


Remember, in the world of B2B, it’s not just about the numbers; it’s about building relationships, fostering trust, and creating a brand that people believe in and want to tell others about.

By mastering PR measurement and leveraging data-driven insights, you can optimize your strategies, demonstrate the value of PR, and achieve greater success in your marketing initiatives. Check out the full series PR KPIs for Modern Marketing and reach out with any questions.