Math for PR pros – What metrics you should keep your eye on?


Raise your hand if you took up a career in PR because you believed math was irrelevant to public relations?

Oh good – we’re all in the same boat.

Initially, I thought a career in public relations would mean I’d spend my time writing, planning events, connecting with audiences and stakeholders and sharing information far and wide. How silly of me to think that numbers wouldn’t play a part in any of that work!

Of course numbers and a bit of math are important to PR. How would you know what efforts were working, where to focus your time and attention when there’s a limited amount of it and where your budget is best spent without consulting the numbers?

If flying by the seat of your pants is your preferred method of answering those questions, think about how you’d answer them if your boss – or the CEO of your organization – asked them. Would anecdotes and generic statements be enough of an answer? Or would data be a better representation of the work that you do?

That’s really what it comes down to – what’s the best way to show that the work you’re doing each day has value for your organization? Numbers and data. Since the world of analytics is a vast and, frankly, frightening one, here are a few key metrics to get you started off on the right foot.

Email Engagement Metrics

Just about every communications program has an email component to it. Whether it’s to sell, to inform, to connect or a mixture of all three, email is one of the best ways to quickly and inexpensively connect with your audience. For that reason, looking at your email’s engagement metrics is important.

So what do you want to look at? There are a few things that are pretty easy to look at right off the bat. If you’re looking at your entire list (which should be broken down into segments, too!), you should be looking at the average cumulative open rate and who are your most engaged subscribers. Are people sharing your emails? Are other people signing up because of that? Who’s interested in what you’re saying? Are your email pitches getting being opened, engaged with and responded to? These are things you’ll want to know.

Once you have a good handle on these things, take a look at your individual email campaigns. What subject lines, formats and topics are performing well? Are your messages reaching the right people in your list? Is there a particular time of day that gets better engagement? Evaluate all of these things and, if you haven’t already, give segmentation and A/B testing a spin. Break down your subscriber list into segments based on demographics, engagement, location, interests – whatever information you feel is important to group your audience by – and begin testing different campaign elements. Test different subject lines, content, delivery times and more to find the ideal combinations for your messages. Be careful to only change one variable at a time and to keep track of what you test and how it performs each time.


I’d bet the first thing that came to most minds were Twitter mentions. Social media mentions are a great thing to keep an eye on, but they’re not the only mentions you should be aware of. Which media outlets are talking about you? Who in the public is talking about you? Is it positive or negative? Who’s talking about your competition and your industry? Setting a handful of searches and alerts is the best way to keep your finger of the pulse of what’s being discussed.

Free options include setting up Google Alerts for your organization, key public-facing individuals in the organization, your competitors, your products, your industry, etc., running regular Twitter and Facebook searches using advanced options to fine-tune your searches. Paid services like Cision and Meltwater can aggregate and automate these searches for you into a central place, while identifying trends and streamlining your media outreach as well.

Website acquisition

Your website is the hub that connects your organization or brand with the rest of the world, right? It would make sense that you’d want to know how people find you and end up at your website. Using Google Analytics, you can set up detailed reports or use Google’s templates to analyze user acquisition and activity. These reports can show you where people come to your site from, what pages they’re interested in, how long they visit and more.

You can further drill this information down using Google’s URL Campaign Builder to build unique, descriptive links with campaign and origin information to help you keep track of where people are coming from. You  can track these in Google Analytics, along with goals and flow to see if users are completing the actions you’d like them to and what information they’re interested in.

Audience growth

Knowing what your audience is doing is important, but it’s also important to make sure that your base is growing in a healthy way. Tracking your subscriber growth, your social media audience growth and your website user growth is a good way to make sure that your brand and the content you’re sharing is still relevant and engaging. Check out how your subscribers subscribe to your email list. Take a look at your new social media followers and see what, if anything, they have in common. Same with your site viewers. If you can identify similar trends and commonalities, you may start to see other ways to engage your audience and new content marketing and PR avenues you can pursue to keep your organization growing.

Want to know more about PR metrics and measurement, including ways to use them to grow your own career? Join us on Wednesday, June 21 at 8 p.m. for a Twitter chat with Shonali Burke, independent PR pro and host of the monthly #measurePR chat, to learn more!

robyn-rudish-laningRobyn serves as PRSA’s New Professionals Section’s programming co-chair and is a communications and PR pro currently living and working in Columbia, S.C. In addition to volunteering with PRSA’s New Professionals Section, she also serves as the 2017 VP of Communications for the South Carolina PRSA Chapter and brought together the chapter’s first New Professionals group in 2016. She’s a native of southern New Jersey and currently resides in Columbia, S.C., by way of Pittsburgh, and currently works as the communications coordinator a statewide non-profit organization. In her spare time, Robyn likes to cook, read, spend time with her tail-less cat Izzy and write for her own blog – and almost always with a cup of tea in hand. Find her on Twitter & talk to her!

June Twitter Chat Highlights: Harnessing Data and Measurement for PR Success

We’d like to thank everyone who participated in the June #NPPRSA Twitter chat.

Specifically, we’d like to thank our special guest for the month Shonali Burke, ABC. Shonali is CEO of Shonali Burke Consulting and founder of the #measurepr Twitter chat. You can read more of Shonali’s insights on PR measurement and data on her blog Waxing UnLyrical.

Join us again on July 11 at 9 p.m. EST for the next #NPPRSA Twitter chat. The July chat will feature special guest Deirdre Breakenridge, author of “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations” — our June Summer Book Club selection.

Review highlights of the June chat below. What did you learn from the June chat? How do you harness the power of data and measurement to help your business reach its goals? With which departments must PR work closely to integrate and analyze measurement goals that will add value to the entire business?


Amy BishopAmy Bishop works in digital marketing and public relations for digitalrelevance, a content marketing and digital PR agency. She is the social media chair for the PRSA New Professionals Section. Bishop is also a contributing member of Dachis Group’s Social Business Council. You can connect with her on Google+LinkedIn or Twitter.

When It Comes to Social Data, Tell a Story

If you’ve been paying attention to trends in measurement and analytics, you’ve likely heard the phrase big data, which is this utopian concept that describes the extraordinary amount of data that exists in our hyperconnected world. This amount of data also presents organizations with the opportunity to translate it into actionable insight. It’s a great concept, but it often challenges public relations professionals that are already trying to mine the seemingly unlimited social data and present it in a meaningful way.

One of the biggest mistakes PR professionals make is overthinking social data. With the often unmanageable amount of data we now have from Facebook Insights, Twitter analytics, social monitoring tools like Radian6 and Sysomos and more, it becomes easier to have a lack of focus.

So, where do you start? When it comes to telling a story with the data, adopt the principles established by journalism: tell a story by answering who, what, where, when and why. Using this framework can help you tell a story that will help make a more meaningful impact with your clients and bosses. You can apply the five Ws framework to social media monitoring reports, social channel reports (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), trends and industry reports and other vehicles for delivering social data.

Below are the key components for each section when telling a story with data:


In every good story, there is a cast of characters that you follow. In social data, these characters comprise your target audience. Reports should answer who is talking about your brand and what their character traits are. Knowing the audience and understanding different demographic information can help you and your clients be more informed about who your social audience is.


What is your audience saying? What are the topics of conversation? Providing context and more qualitative analysis can add a sort of plot line to the story you’re trying to tell with the data. The answers to “what” can be social metrics around brand sentiment, the level of penetration when it comes to key messages or a breakdown of what the topics include.


One of the most important questions your data can answer is from where the data is coming. Understanding which platforms are hosting social conversations about your clients can help inform where future marketing dollars should go. For instance, if you’re spending your entire budget on Facebook, but your social monitoring reveals a large amount of conversation occurring on discussion forums, it would be reevaluating where your marketing dollars are going.


In a story, timing is often a key element that impacts how the story plays out. This is also true with social data – cadence and scheduling can help drive more impact for your clients. For instance, if you have a food brand and your social data reveals that the majority of social conversations are happening late at night, consider adjusting your content and social community management to reflect this.


This question is perhaps the most difficult to answer. Who, what, where and when are mostly observations that can be made, but answering why requires higher level of analysis. When building out your story, always ask why for each observation you make. Having a clear understanding of the psychology behind the data can help you pull more meaningful insight.

Working in PR, you probably never thought you would be leveraging similar traits to authors and storytellers. However, translating all of the data that goes across your computer screen into an easily digestible story can help you demonstrate value for your clients.


Nick Lucido

Nick Lucido joined Edelman as an intern in May 2009 and is currently an account executive within Edelman Digital. Lucido is a member of the firm’s digital strategy team, providing online conversation research, measurement analysis and strategic insights for clients in a variety of industries. He is the PRSA New Professionals Section PRSSA liaison.