Measurement: The Bane and Soul of PR Existence

Genesis Neumann

Genesis Neumann

Genesis, a self-described ‘national treasure,’ wears many hats at DLC and prides herself on being a purveyor of each and every request, whether the team needs research, media relations or any other slew of projects completed. When she’s not hard at work with client development […]

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Measurement: The Bane and Soul of PR Existence

How many impressions?

How many readers?

How many ACTUALLY read the article?

How much interaction?

Was this a successful campaign?


Let’s face it: measurement in the public relations and media world is undergoing a constant, never-ending existential crisis. At its crux, the very nature of PR is about getting a client in front of as many eyeballs as possible. But, how do we track it? How to we count the actual eyeballs and what those eyeballs do as a result?

A few weeks ago, BuzzFeed was featured in a Fortune article that looked at how they track engagement and measurement. The answer is not so simple:

“One of the biggest challenges in online publishing, Nguyen says, is the continual process of re-evaluating what criteria the company should be looking at in order to gauge its effectiveness in reaching an audience, a process that BuzzFeed calls ‘re-anchoring.’ In effect, it’s an almost scientific approach of checking to see whether the thing being measured is actually the thing that is most important.” – Fortune

The answer is, there is no specific, constant answer. In the PR world, we rely on outlets like BuzzFeed to provide us with relevant, meaningful measurement numbers that we can pass onto clients and integrate into our own, ever-changing internal tracking and measurement processes. In short, the fact that BuzzFeed stays nimble and is constantly changing how they measure their own success is music to our ears because we must do the same.

The media and content consumption landscape is changing constantly, so the only way to keep-up with what’s changing is to constantly change along with it. And, if you don’t know what is truly resonating with readers and viewers, you don’t know if what you are doing is really working: evolve or die.

But of course, as with any existential crisis, it’s not a simple answer to get to an end, and it’s getting more complicated as we speak (write). Now, it’s not just about counting eyeballs; the dawn of social media has given us the opportunity to track so much more, like actual engagement.

We don’t just have to count readership and cross our fingers a good number of those readers (real or fake) actually read the article we placed. Now, if we are creative and flexible, the data we can analyze is almost literally endless.

While measurement can be overwhelming, it also provides the ability to truly know if what we are doing is working. At DLC, we are constantly looking for ways to change and improve the manner in which we track client success – and often times this can vary by client, initiative and the day-of-the-week. We applaud the media for doing the same, because this is the only way we will all learn, on a rolling basis, what people want to see, read, hear – consume. And having this information can make or break all of us.