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Setting PR KPIs for 2017 – are you ready?

9 December 2016

Setting KPIs for the upcoming year can often be more guesswork than we’d like. It doesn’t have to be. 

If you want to make next year’s campaigns your most successful, it’s time to embrace analysis. 

Here’s a step-by-step step guide to setting PR KPIs:

1) Record and review

We often finish one campaign and before we know it we are on to the next. But without taking the time to review the last and record measurement metrics, how do we know if:

i) the creative was a good idea?
ii) we have made any improvements in our approach?
iii) what increase we should apply to KPIs in our next campaign?

Here are some of the PR metrics and components to track:

  • Date of cutting
  • Headline
  • Publication / source
  • Publication traffic
  • Coverage view traffic (this can be achieved with a formula, noted below)
  • Social shares
  • Domain Authority (website influence according to Google)
  • Messages conveyed
  • Spokesperson mentioned/quoted

Recording your data somewhere such as a spreadsheet is important. It’s the only way you can review and draw out insights and patterns. PR consultant Steph Bridgeman recently wrote a helpful post on how to refine coverage metrics in spreadsheets. Steph provides a step-by-step guide to cutting, refining and presenting your coverage data. 

2) Set KPIs

Once you can access your coverage data, it’s time to benchmark and set targets. Setting KPIs can be a challenge as it’s difficult to know how high to reach. That’s why there should be some strategy involved. Here’s an example:

Coverage views

If you’re aiming to target a similar publication or journalist on your next campaign, then setting ‘coverage views‘ as a KPI can work well. The target could be a more prominent area of the site such as homepage or main category page. The KPI could then be the increase in coverage views for the prominent area.

You can gauge how much the percentage increase should be by applying this rough but realistic formula for homepage coverage:

  • Start with the total month numbers for the site in question, eg 391 million.
  • Get to 50% of that number to get an estimate of home-page visits, eg 391 million x 0.5 = 195 million.
  • Divide that number by 30 days to get to a day’s worth of traffic, eg 195 million / 30 = 6.5 million views of your home-page coverage.

At, we simplify this process by automatically applying this formula. Amnesty International has been using to determine the success of its recent campaigns. If a story hits the benchmark of one million coverage views, it’s deemed a successful breakthrough story.

3) Go!

When you set increased KPIs, it’s important to know how your team is going to achieve them. A change in the creative and activation approach may be necessary.

High social shares of coverage indicate that the article is engaging to the reader and has given them a reason to share it with their peers. Shares of your coverage isn’t just great for awareness. The social votes also signal to Google that your coverage is popular. This can result in your coverage being featured in Google search results.

It’s therefore essential to understand why an article has worked better in one campaign in comparison to another.

Ask yourself:

What was the supporting campaign content that featured in my coverage?

Interesting content in addition to images and words are often the difference between somebody sharing an article or not – did yours have those elements?

Find out more about the type of content people love to share here from Jonah Berger, author of Contagious. He has some great ideas on what makes content shareable and this applies to coverage as well as owned content.

Once you have a better understanding of what you should change in your creative approach, you can set an increase in the shares you believe your new coverage may gain.

Read more:

Measuring your brand: it takes more than one measure

Rachel Krish


Rachel Krish is the co-founder of