Measuring the value of PR is a constant struggle. Some clients still insist on the print advertising equivalent of media placements, a completely antiquated metric since most of the value of publicity is online. How do we measure the value of online publicity? I spent a week trying to figure it out with one client and came up empty. That’s why I was heartened to see Courtney Seiter’s post Why Social Media ROI Can’t Be Measured – And Why That’s OK
Some blog posts on PRBlogNews spike in traffic years after they were posted. Why? Something happens that makes the post timely and relevant again. There’s an anniversary of an event. Keywords trend and the post rises in search results. Each blog post, if done right, is a digital asset that compounds over time.
Blog posts, like online news stories, are picked up by Google alerts and are fed into uncountable in boxes.
There’s a cumulative effect to online publicity and blog posts that defy measurement. Quality content that’s delivered in a search-friendly way accumulates and is the foundation of online reputation.
Also, online publicity impacts Wikipedia, which needs verifiable online sources as the basis of its content. This may be the biggest benefit of online publicity, and the most difficult to quantify to clients.
In the Internet age, public relations requires a lot of labor-intensive work that doesn’t yield an immediate, obvious benefit. Convincing clients of the value of these activities remains a challenge. As Seiter suggests, quantifying and measuring what we can is a good start (page views, click-throughs,Tweets, etc.). The rest involves education about the nature of online content, and a leap of faith about the value of online conversations. – Mark Rose