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PR success can be measured with Google Analytics


Victoria Usher

Published On:

November 19, 2019

Published In:

Business | PR & Communications

PR success can be measured with Google Analytics

Measuring PR success is notoriously difficult. Qualitative objectives are normally focused on building trust, reputation and brand awareness. And although the traditional metric of AVE is often considered – calculated by measuring column inches in a publication and the equivalent advertising value – it is used far less widely in modern PR reporting.

As PR efforts become increasingly data driven, it’s important for all PR professionals to demonstrate effectiveness to clients, but this is even more crucial for a technology PR agency like GingerMay. This begs the question, how can you really know if a PR programme is successful and positively impacting a business? Google Analytics goes a long way to provide some of the answers to measuring PR success.

Google Analytics – a free tool that businesses can integrate with their website – is used to analyse SEO or PPC strategies, but it is also valuable for measuring PR success. Evaluating metrics such as new versus returning users, sessions, pages per session or goal completions reveals whether PR campaigns are positively contributing to the client’s reputation, digital strategy and overarching business goals. While Google Analytics alone won’t provide the entire picture, the following insights combined with other reporting methods can help PR professionals illustrate the impact of a programme.

Gauging PR success through website traffic

Website traffic – including source, type and frequency – can provide insight into the value of media coverage. It demonstrates which pieces of online content are having the most impact and is a step further than the number of unique users of the publication.

First, analysing referral traffic indicates whether coverage links are having an effect. While backlinks are website ranking gold dust, they are also valuable for building brand awareness. If there is a peak in referral traffic from a particular domain after coverage is achieved, it shows PR efforts are driving a direct uplift in website visitors. A higher click-through rate to a website as a result of a piece of coverage is a sign the programme is contributing to overarching business goals such as building relationships and generating brand awareness. Identifying a rise in direct traffic after a PR campaign and using the time comparison feature to look back to before the programme can highlight how PR boosts website traffic over a longer period of time.

Organic traffic also demonstrates a PR programme is contributing to brand awareness or reputation. A spike in organic users after coverage is achieved in a top tier or national publication could infer potential customers are using search engines to find the brand. A rise in returning users is a sign website visitors are engaging with the client’s content in the media, and a peak in pages per session following the publication of a piece of coverage may indicate coverage is driving visitors with high purchase intent.

Understanding PR results through keywords searches

Although not available in Google Analytics, keyword search queries can be found in Google Search Console. A surge in business-related keyword searches could suggest an increase in brand awareness as a result of not only digital PR, but print too. The best way to directly attribute to PR is monitoring keyword searches over time and noting if there is an increase once the PR campaign starts or when a key piece of coverage is achieved.

Demonstrating PR success with user demographics

Analysing the demographic of users visiting a site is key to understanding if a PR campaign is targeting the right audience. Google Analytics stores a wealth of real-life data about website traffic, gathered through the Google Display Network. Drilled down data is available in the ‘audience’, ‘demographic’, ‘affinity category’, and ‘in-market segment’ tabs, including age, gender, interests, and what kind of products or services they’re searching for.

Knowing who is visiting the client’s website demonstrates PR success by revealing whether coverage is targeting the correct users. Are they visitors who might have viewed recent media coverage? The ‘geo’ and ‘language’ tabs can likewise determine if PR efforts are having an impact in a particular country, especially if it is running across more than one region.

Proving PR results with goals and events

Understanding what a client seeks to gain from PR is vital in delivering a tailored and successful programme. And setting up specific goals aligned with PR objectives in Google Analytics is helpful for reporting.

Goals measure how often website users complete specific actions such as downloading a whitepaper, joining a mailing list or filling out a form. The actions demonstrate increases in brand awareness, business leads or reputation and, as such, present a direct measurement to share in PR reports. Providing the client with PR metrics that contribute to wider business goals and website performance is key to showing PR is an integral part of a digital marketing strategy.

In the digital era, demand for measurability and accountability has inevitably increased. Google Analytics presents a powerful and accessible tool for measuring PR, quantifying the effectiveness of a specific piece of coverage and demonstrating the role PR plays in the broader digital marketing strategy. PR professionals must continue to use other reporting methods such as share of voice, sentiment and publication reach, but combining these measures with findings drawn from Google Analytics can lead to more comprehensive and tangible reporting that truly measures PR success.

To find out more about the PR services we offer and how we measure the success of our programmes feel free to contact us at

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