Creative Uses for Google Analytics in Public Relations

Analytics should be an important component of the work we do as public relations professionals, but how can we leverage analytics tools to serve our needs? During a PRSA Boston event, Matthew Raven, VP of Marketing Technology at SHIFT Communications, presented an insightful discussion about the power of Google Analytics and how it can serve PR professionals.

Here are a few of the key points he made:

The challenge

Currently, PR has a measurement challenge. We have no doubt that the work we do as public relations professionals adds value to the organizations we serve, but then the question becomes, how do we prove it using data? Traditional measurement models, such as counting the amount of coverage secured, fails to demonstrate the broader impact that public relations has on sales and business in general.

In Matt’s words, the current attitude is one where “marketing owns measurement.” This presents a challenge to the public relations industry because it leaves us with a proof problem. The solution seems to be to get more creative. When we fail to prove that the service we provide is valuable and necessary, we lose business.

The solution

The role of public relations is to increase awareness and shape perception. However, because awareness and perception are inherently difficult to measure, it’s important to measure their indirect impact, which can be done using Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a service that Google provides in which the platform monitors and reports website traffic and user behavior.
One way that Google Analytics can help us demonstrate the impact of our public relations efforts is through attribution modeling. An attribution model is a rule that dictates which aspect of the conversion path receives credit for a conversion or sale. There are many different attribution models, which each have strengths and weaknesses.

Google Analytics and attribution modeling allow us to convey the impact public relations has on a larger scale and throughout the marketing funnel, beyond just awareness.

In the past, last-click modeling was the most commonly used. Last-click attribution modeling gave attribution credit to the source that was last clicked, which was ineffective because it failed to take into the account the additional influences that lead to action.

Painting a broader picture of attribution allows for a more in-depth look at the influences that drive sales and results. Other attribution models allow us to map the consumer journey and demonstrate the impact that several sources have had.

Google Analytics is great for measurement, but it can have an impact on strategy as well. You can use Google Analytics to guide your strategy. For example, in crisis situations, it may be beneficial to look at your analytics to see the impact and results that a crisis has on those searching for your company and looking at your website.

Overall, Google Analytics is a vital tool that public relations professionals can utilize as both a measurement tool and as a tool for informing strategy. Matt’s presentation about Google Analytics demonstrates a creative way to utilize an analytical tool for public relations work.

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