None of us need telling how complex PR has become. It goes way beyond outreach to traditional media or simply distributing a press release in the ever connected world of social, mobile and short attention spans.

With SEO, our primary reporting metrics always centre around sales, revenue or enquiries that can be attributed back to organic traffic. 

But with PR it’s more complex than that. So that’s where PR clipping, PR reporting and coverage book comes into play.

And this is why PR professionals will still often use clippings, coverage books and similar to report on activity and results.

But how useful are clippings and what other information should be included alongside them to make them a valuable PR reporting tool?

PR Reporting Has To Be Done

With any investment, some sort of report on the results is essential. And with PR reporting, a good one should:

  • Help the supplier demonstrate their value 
  • Allow the client to understand the value they’re getting in return for their investment
  • Allow both parties to honestly and easily analyse what’s working and what isn’t. This data is valuable in shaping strategies and plans throughout a campaign

A good coverage book and media clipping service will often be a staple in a PR report, helping practitioners to assess the effectiveness of their strategies.

What Information Needs to be Provided?

If I’m being completely honest, I personally see very little value in a clipping showing an article live in a press outlet.

This, on its own, doesn’t tell me much. That’s not to say these things don’t have value to anyone. Perhaps an internal stakeholder just wants a certain publication. Perhaps a competitor is repeatedly featured in that publication and your client is desperate to be as well.

Sometimes there are less obvious reasons to showcase publication alone.

But personally I think we need to into more depth when reporting on PR activity. Coverage books alone, just screenshots and clippings, actually fail to give you as a practitioner and your clients who are investing, any real insight. They also fail to provide you with the intelligence you need to be able to fine tune your campaign going forward.

So here are some things I think should be in your PR reports.


1. Clear Objectives

Start every single report with your goals. What specifically were the objectives of the activity you’re reporting on. 

This might be to increase brand awareness, to contribute to repairing a brand reputation issue to drive web traffic or inbound links.

2. The Metrics You Use to Measure Objectives

Whatever those objectives are it’s vital you include the metrics you’ll be using to measure them.

Some common metrics:

  • Overall media coverage (some would measure that as a metric that contributes toward brand awareness, though this is of course up for debate)
  • Social media engagement with content
  • Traffic from the links within your coverage
  • Links achieved (often used as a metric by people doing PR to assist with SEO link acquisition efforts)
  • Conversions from any traffic achieved through coverage
  • Sentiment analysis

It’s always best to agree metrics before a campaign and be clear with how those metrics align with the goals set.

3. Accurate Data

You’ll need to include plenty of data around the metrics you’ve chosen. It goes without saying that data should be as accurate as possible with any potential inaccuracies heavily caveated.

This sets the tone for the report being that you’re going to report on how what you have done has contributed to those objectives and, ultimately, how successful you have been in meeting them or making progress towards them.

Whether you’ra gathering your data from Google Analytics, coverage reporting tools, Search Console, a third party link analysis tool or anywhere else for that matter, be clear about the data source and ensure tracking is setup in order that the data is as accurate as possible.

4. Data Analysis and Insight

The numbers alone don’t tell much of a story. It’s important to look at the figures, identify trends and make analytical comment on what the numbers mean, therefore what has been successful and what hasn’t. 

When we put context, analysis and storytelling with data, it becomes actionable information as opposed to just numbers.

5. Data Visualisation

Data and numbers alone are hard to read. Find the appropriate places to incorporate charts, graphs, images and infographics to make a data heavy report much easier to consumer and understand.

Dashboards with plenty of visualisation will be far more pleasurable reading for clients than lists of numbers and walls of text.

6. Tie it all Back into Objectives

This is arguably the most important part of the report.

What conclusions can you draw and how does the information you’ve provided tie back into objectives.

In Conclusion

PR reporting, when done well, serves as a valuable feedback loop, providing insights that can inform future campaigns and activity. 

Good data analysis helps us as practitioners to determine what has worked well, what hasn’t and how we should change things up in the future.

It also helps us to hone in on the channels, the journalists or the outlets having the most positive impact for us and helps us then better focus our efforts into nurturing those relationships and building similar ones.

In other words, not only is is important for your client that you delivery insightful reports, but it can also help you to work smarter, save time and deliver better results.


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