How to Measure Your Media Relations Success

Public Relations

How to Measure Your Media Relations Success

Ryan Johnson

Ryan Johnson
Sep 30, 2020

Autumn is the time of the year when many companies begin planning for the following year. When developing a media relations campaign, it is important to determine how your company will measure its success.

You may write a goal in a public relations plan focused on how many news releases you plan to write. Or you may include how many articles you’ll develop. Both are steps in the right direction, but they won’t give you all the information needed to assess your success.

If you go one step further, you can count how many placements your media relations effort earned. It can be easy to think of earned coverage of your company with editorial placements. That’s also closer to an effective evaluation step.

Challenge yourself to think beyond what you write. Look past how many impressions it garnered. Gather measurable results through primary or secondary research.

Outputs, outgrowths and outcomes

The Public Relations Society of America uses three terms to help clarify the forms of public relations measurement: outputs, outgrowths and outcomes.


Outputs reflect the number of tactics supporting a media relations plan. For example, they may count the following:

  • News releases written
  • Feature articles written
  • Photoshoots completed
  • Videos produced
  • Trade shows attended

Not to take anything away from your hard work, but an output only goes so far in measuring your PR results.


You’ve probably been asked, “How many people saw that video?” or “Who published that news release?” Those are valid questions that deserve an answer. You can answer someone’s questions with an outgrowth. Outgrowths include:

  • Impressions garnered 
  • Placements earned
  • Number of video views
  • Average number of monthly website visitors

Many companies are not satisfied to stop at outgrowths. That’s when someone might ask, “Did we reach our outcome?”


Now you’re digging deep and looking beyond what you’ve produced and how many impressions it garnered. So ask yourself, “Did our tactics produce a measurable result?” Outcomes tell you if your public relations efforts resulted in a change in one or more of the following:

  • Actions
  • Attitudes
  • Awareness
  • Behavior
  • Opinions
  • Support

You can measure some results easier than others. Actions, for example, can be measured by something like the number of visitors who came to a trade show booth and inquired about a new product on display. Other items listed above, such at attitudes and awareness, will likely require some additional research. You may need to conduct primary research with your target audience to determine if your public relations tactics had a positive result.

Set SMART public relations goals

It’s best to start with the end in mind as you are writing a public relations plan. One way is to follow the SMART objective system. This popular acronym has been widely credited to Peter Drucker (1955) and G.T. Doran (1991).

Follow the SMART format to help you determine if you obtained your outcomes when it comes time to evaluate your efforts.

SMART objectives should follow this criteria.











Need help measuring your media relations success or setting SMART goals? Connect with us.

Ryan Johnson
Get to know Ryan

Ryan is a PR pro with an earned accreditation in public relations. He’s a strategic communications manager who specializes in strategic communications, writing, and media relations. Reach out to Ryan to pick his brain on custom content.