Measuring & Evaluating a public relations presence online
by Pete Prestipino
You've done everything right. You helped increased sales, people recognize your business name and you are considered an expert on what you are selling by millions of people around the globe. Then, your boss asks you to prove the worth of your online PR efforts to the company.
Measuring and evaluating a public relations presence online takes planning. It is important to understand before you being your online PR efforts what you should be measuring. Listed below are a few tips about measuring and evaluating your online public relations presence.
What effect of your online PR efforts should you be measuring?
There are really only a handful of effects that you could measure resulting from online PR efforts that will matter when you are trying to prove worth of the time you spend - three of the most important are media penetration, traffic or links and believe it or not - sales and revenue. With offline public relations efforts, measuring response on occasion nears impossibility. With online PR efforts, thanks to technology, online PR managers have tools at their command that help measure efforts effectively.
Measuring ONLINE PR Penetration:
Many PR managers want to employ clipping services to measure the effect that articles or press releases have on their prospective audiences. While having a list of media outlets that have published your news or features is helpful in identifying who to keep targeting, in the offline world it is difficult to measure what effect those mentions have on the bottom line. When measuring online PR penetration, it becomes much simpler in that savvy online PR managers are able to tell exactly where visitors are coming from. If you know when you submit articles or press releases to the media or when you start your online PR campaign, all you need to measure online PR is access to your server logs. If you do not, ask your company's webmaster to send you a list of the "HTTP REFERRERS" that your site has received over a specified period of time. By looking at the HTTP referrer list, you will see not only who has sent you traffic, but how much traffic was sent.
An alternate way to measure the effect of your online PR campaign or PR efforts is to create a mini-site. Mini-sites give PR managers the ability to control everything from the image you want to convey to the content that you are sharing with the public. Mini-sites can be used for Web logs, article archives, web press centers or Internet press rooms. Thanks to the low cost of domains and hosting, you could conceivably set up a separate domain from your company for less than it costs to send out one press release to the media using popular distribution services. By knowing what it costs to generate one new client for your company, you will be better able to report the contribution online PR efforts make to the bottom line of your business venture.
Another way, that can arguably be perceived as under the dominion of online public relations is bid for placement or pay per click advertising. While a company's main site might be used as an "all-purpose" solution, PPC advertising enables promoters to promote a concept or an idea over a general business category. For example, if you sell pillows, you might want to create a page on a mini-site that deals specifically with fabric used within your pillows. Take this page and promote it on PPC search engine using a low bid making sure to define with titles and descriptions exactly what the surfer might be looking for.
Peter Prestipino is the founder and principal of SCG - Swirling Circle Online PR Group providing Internet solutions to small and medium sized businesses through online PR efforts such as mini-website development, link building, press releases and product reviews. For more information, visit http://www.SwirlingCircle.com.
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