The Future of PR is Numbers Driven


Over time, the value of digital PR will (finally) be recognized as more than just a link building tactic.

In the past, the bulk of digital PR coverage has focused on the number of links and their average domain authority. Hasn’t the quality of the links always outweighed the quantity? Why have we as marketers allowed this to happen for so long?

In today’s PR world, proving the value of PR to the powers that be, whoever they are, is still an uphill battle, but that doesn’t mean our peers and colleagues fully understand this too.

Yes, you may still need PR for SEO purposes, but we still shouldn’t care how many links it hits. We should also ask ourselves how the activity will directly affect the ranking and challenge ourselves to relate this to overall business objectives.

The first step we need to take to fix this is to stop link building. It’s so much more than that. Whichever campaign or activity is running, you will most likely need to do at least desk research, but often content creation, design, and on-site development as well.

We are not “link builders” – we are so much more than that.

As experts, PRs need to understand that we shouldn’t be messing with links and think about how digital PR can directly impact ROI and how digital PR can be integrated with a number of other channels.

An example of this is PPC and PR. Nobody really thought of combining them. Historically, PPC has always received fame, traditionally using a “last click” attribution model. It was usually always easier to prove one’s worth, but we can now see if someone got involved in PPC activity from a PR article on Google Analytics – and we can start to attribute PR to some of the successes of PPC.

Mapping ROI to digital PR activity is what we need to focus on in order to stay one step ahead of the game and continue to get a piece of the pie.

According to a 2017 survey by Cision, 75% of communications professionals admitted they needed to measure PR better (which they still do) and 70% said they lack the data to do it ( whatever the case) should certainly not be the case).

As long as you have access to an analytics tool (which you should as a marketer), you will have access to all the data you need. You can measure top-level on-site metrics like number of sessions, new users, bounce rate and average time on-site, and social metrics like approvals and engagements.

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These may not be the highly competitive numbers you are looking for and of course it doesn’t directly affect business goals, but there are more.

By tracking the user journey, you can see where a user entered the website and crucially if a referral link contributed to it through your activity. Measure this on your AOV (Average Order Value) and you have the start of a PR measurement model.

There was a recent poll on the importance of PR in PR week – “PR in a post-pandemic future” – and it showed some interesting things.

First, in COVID-19, 64% of customers have reduced their PR budget in the past six months. It also showed that 77% reduced the number of employees and 90% postponed the campaigns.

However, these steps were taken out of panic and do not reflect the PR industry and the direction they are headed. If anything, with the steps it took in 2020, the value has been seen more in PR, especially when it comes to getting brands back on the market.

For many industries; Travel, hospitality, and retail are just three examples. They won’t be able to go back to the old strategies they used before COVID-19.

Digital is becoming a top priority and an overhaul of these channels will be needed to weather this pandemic. New ways of communicating with customers need to be created in order to build trust. However, we see that too many brands are playing it safe and unwilling to invest in digital media because they fear it will fail.

Ultimately, it will be the biggest failure of this time we live in. Nothing to do. Because of this, we’ll see that PR really comes into its own in the not too distant future.

To learn more about how Hallam’s experts see the future of digital marketing, download our Future of Digital Marketing eBook here.