“Brands are built on what people are saying about you, not what you’re saying about yourself. People say good things about you when (a) you have a great product and (b) you get people to spread the word about it.”


Wise words spoken by none other than Guy Kawasaki.

Getting to spread the good word about your brand is what the field of PR has been all about. For decades now, we’ve relied on leaders, celebrities and icons to relay our messages to an audience that must be captivated.

Except, the realms of influence have expanded in a digital world. We live among influencers and they come in all shapes and sizes. Right from the guitar prodigy who has over a million subscribers on YouTube to the adventurous biker with his crazy daredevilry on Vine, our influencers are everywhere. Therein lies the challenge for brands and specifically PR folks. To identify influencers that are best suited for their brand and measure the impact of such influencers through metrics that are not primitive.

Traditionally the ROI of PR was calculated using AVE or Advertising Value Efficiency. AVE measured the impact of PR by equating its value to the equivalent in advertising if it were to appear in the same space. However, PR is nothing like advertising and comparing the two like they are the same just doesn’t make sense.

In 2010, PR practitioners from 33 countries got together to form the Barcelona Principles – a set of 7 guidelines that would help evaluate the effectiveness of PR campaigns better. What these principles do, apart from expanding the scope of PR measurement, is bring into consideration the element of quality along with quantity. This helps evaluate PR for what it is- a third party validation of your brand which should definitely be pegged higher than your own.

So, how do you judge what’s being said about your brand and gauge the opportunities that lay hidden in the mass of conversations that take place in the digital realm?

Understanding the entire universe of PR, not just your own

If you’re monitoring who’s put a good word out about your brand in the socialverse but ignoring what’s being said about your competition, you’re only looking at one side of the story. Your audience isn’t just your own nor are your influencers.

This makes a lot more sense in the context of earned content or third-party content because of the element of credibility associated with PR. According to a McKinsey report, marketing inspired word-of-mouth generates twice the sales of paid advertising and customers acquired thus have a 37% higher retention rate. But all the credibility associated with trusting that third-party recommendation or peer review would go down the drain if the same influencer was recommending your competition’s products. Harnessing the power wielded by influencers and their circles of influence is all about being the first to get there. Or at least getting there before your competition does.

Content in the context of engagement

The Barcelona Principles stress on the value of including the element of quality in determining the efficacy of PR activities. A big indication of the quality of content, whether owned or earned, comes directly from the engagement it gets. The quantity versus quality debate is laid to rest with this approach because your mentions are evaluated against the level of buzz they brought for your brand.

But, how about that popular notion, ‘Any publicity is good publicity’? Here’s what we have to say to that. Relying on the glory that comes from impromptu publicity equates to being ignorant of the strategy and vision that is needed for modern day brand building.

Understand content in the context of the engagement

Knowing where your engagement comes from helps in tapping those channels and influencers to reach an exponentially larger number of people. This isn’t just about knowing what kind of content is bringing you higher success but also about knowing and engaging those influencers productively.

Which narrative structures work

Measuring PR success is also about identifying narrative structures that are best-suited for your brand and most popular among your audience.

The rules are the same as when you’re creating your own content. If you identify which narrative structures leave the greatest impact on your audience, you can focus on getting more such content out in order to increase your chances of being discovered.

Understand the narrative structures that work

Again, analysing the narrative structures on the basis of the level of engagement they generate coupled with the number of pieces that actually go out is a better indicator of success or missed opportunities.

What types of publishers mention you

Being written about by influencers, customers and just about anybody out there is great. So it helps to identify the broad categories that bring in those mentions because customers attribute different levels of trust to different people. Research done on the subject by Lithium shows that 70% buyers see online customer reviews before considering a brand while 89% state that they are influenced by social media posts made by friends and family.

Understand the types of publishers that mention you

Who your influencers are

Superfans – highly trusted, credible and informed brand and product experts – wield tremendous impact on word-of-mouth marketing. They have closely knit groups that rely on their expertise and they’re the people you want on your side. Researchers claim that superfans generate messages with 4X greater impact on purchase decisions.

It makes sense in identifying who your really big influencers are and what they’re saying about your brand. Use their influence to tap into their networks and grow your own circle of brand champions. Capturing sentiment is another way of identifying those brand ambassadors that can spread the positive word more effectively within their networks.

Understand who your influencers are

Where your mentions are coming from

If your primary target audience extends to a part of North America and some parts of Europe, then chances are you’d like to know how well you’ve been represented in those areas. While it doesn’t hurt to be mentioned in regions of the world that you’re yet to consider seriously, your primary target markets are what you are most interested in. It helps to understand your PR mentions based on where they came from.

Where your mentions are coming from

Getting a view of your global mentions also helps identify prospective target markets you could consider in the future. The very fact that you’re being covered and that coverage has led to engaging conversations in those markets is a definitive indicator that you should keep a watch on them.

Your mentions versus your competition’s

Completing the analysis of how well represented you are by external content in the market requires pitting yourself against your primary competitors. This not only involves understanding the quantity of those mentions but also assessing their quality vis-a-vis your competition’s.

Your mentions versus your competition’s

If you are being mentioned quite frequently in blogs and websites but your competition is getting a fair chunk of engagement for their mentions, it makes sense to re-evaluate your PR strategy and find out what you’re doing wrong. Or better still, to find out what they’re doing right!

So, in a nutshell, measuring the effectiveness of PR depends on a detailed analysis and understanding of 7 key factors:

  • The entire PR universe and not just your own brand
  • Content in the context of the engagement it generates
  • The narrative structures that work: topics, article length, sentiment analysis
  • The publishers that mention you frequently
  • Your top influencers
  • Where your mentions are coming from
  • How well your competition is faring in the same areas


A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is. It is what consumers tell each other it is.”


These words by Scott Cook, CEO of Intuit, put the importance of getting your PR strategy right, right on perspective. We couldn’t agree more.



EpicEnterprise by Epictions monitors and benchmarks all your earned content against your competition’s to help you with digital+social PR. Request a demo here or talk to us about your immediate brand monitoring needs.