Measuring Success

Agency life is full of ebbs and flows and you’re only as good as your last campaign. Proving the success of a campaign is vital to a communications agency - it provides justification to the client that the monthly investment is of value and adds to the bottom line of their business. 

But in such a vast landscape, how do you determine if your last campaign was a good one? Well, first there are a few key terms you need familiarize yourself with, and for the purpose of this blog the focus will be on terms relevant for a PR campaign:

Key performance indicators (KPIs)

These are the measurable goals you track against for the duration of the campaign.


The number of individuals that viewed a piece of content. Reach can also be referred to as unique monthly views, viewers, readership, circulation, subscribers or followers depending on the medium. 


Often confused with reach, impressions refers to the number of times a piece of content is viewed. The difference between the two is that one is about the individual and one is about the act. Take YouTube for example, the platform shows how many individuals subscribe to a channel and that would be the reach. It also indicates how many times a video was viewed and that would be the number of impressions. It is possible to have a greater or smaller number of impressions than subscribers as it depends on how many times each user watches the content. 


A piece of media coverage.

Quality Score

A scale that rates how impactful or relevant a piece of content is based on a set of criteria such as prominence in a story, inclusion of image or quote, inclusion of key messages and inclusion of a call to action. 

Return on Investment (ROI)

There is an old adage “you need to spend money to make money”, but the best campaigns make back more money than was spent. This ratio is known as return on investment. 

It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes the best place to start with a campaign is at the very end. What are the end goals of the client? Do they want to sell more units? Do they want to expand their social following? Do they want to introduce a new audience to their product or service? Once you know what success looks like for the client you can plan tactics around achieving those goals and set KPIs to measure against. 

The key to KPIs is to be specific. Let’s take the example of selling more units where reach, impressions, quality score and ROI can all be KPIs. 

  • Hit: 50 pieces of coverage 
  • Reach: 5 million 
  • Impressions: 17 million 
  • ROI: 10% of initial investment
  • Quality Score: 90% of media included the call to action criteria 

You want a large reach because that becomes your pool of potential customers. You want a large number of impressions because it requires multiple touchpoints with a brand before a customer commits to purchase, and you want a high quality score because that indicates how impactful and powerful each piece of content is to those who view it, ultimately driving a positive ROI. Call to action is a common quality score criteria and often takes the form of directing customers to a point of purchase through a trackable link. From that link, you can analyze how many people clicked through to purchase the product and compare sales during the campaign period vs spend. 

Of course the number assigned to each KPI will be determined based on the resources and budget allocated to the campaign. 

So how do you know if you’re on track to meet your KPIs? Luckily, there is no shortage of industry tools that can be utilized to track and analyze your results. Meltwater, Cision, Trendkite, MRP and are reporting tools that not only track how many pieces of media were secured, but also track the reach and impressions allowing you to compile a report based on concrete data. 

From there, it’s just a matter of presenting the final campaign report and dazzling them with how successful your efforts were!