You Ask, I Answer: Impressions as a PR Measurement?

Meredith asks, “What are the current industry thoughts on using impressions as a metric to measure PR?”

You Ask, I Answer: Impressions as a PR Measurement?

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In today’s episode, Meredith asks, “What are the current industry thoughts on using impressions as a metric to measure PR?” Met impressions are like followers on Twitter or website traffic; they’re a leading indicator at the top of the funnel. If you have zero impressions, then nothing else can happen. For example, if you have zero website visitors, the downstream efforts don’t matter because you have zero traffic. If you have zero followers on Twitter, it’s difficult to demonstrate any other value.

Impressions are a starting point and a leading indicator that hints at the performance of other things. However, the challenge with public relations metrics is that they are inherently top of funnel metrics. While they have an impact throughout the funnel, PR’s primary remit is to generate awareness, trust, and interest. Impressions are just the beginning.

To determine the mathematical relationship between the impressions you create and something further down the funnel, such as leads generated or shopping cart started, you should run a sophisticated mathematical analysis called multiple regression analysis. If there is no correlation between impressions and form fills, then your PR efforts are not working, or that metric is not valid.

If you get no impressions, you won’t get much of anything else from PR. It has to be used as part of an overall measurement strategy that looks at all the PR metrics and then correlates them with outcomes that stakeholders care about, like something that has a direct line of sight to revenue.

You should blend impressions with another set of metrics like branded organic search, which is the number of times people search for your products, services, company, or stakeholders by name. If you create lots of impressions in your coverage, but nobody thinks to Google your company, you’ve probably done something wrong. You’re getting press or coverage for things that don’t matter. The goal is to create mindshare, and that mindshare translates into branded organic search, which leads to website visitors, engagements, form fills, and so on.

Impressions should never be the outcome of a campaign or the final result on which you hang your hat. Instead, they should be part of the measurement package that shows the various PR metrics and how they correlate to results that stakeholders care about. The outcomes and effects of public relations are measurable and trackable, but it requires a lot of math. To prove the value of PR, you must use a lot of math, which is not always something that PR professionals enjoy doing.

In conclusion, impressions are a critical starting point that hints towards the performance of other things, but they need to be used as part of an overall measurement strategy that correlates them with outcomes that stakeholders care about. Although the outcomes and effects of public relations are measurable and trackable, they require a lot of math to prove their value.


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