Ok. You are doing all the right stuff for public relations. You are putting out a consistent brand message on social media, getting your business involved in your community, you are using HARO like a pro and engaging with the right parts of the media.

But now you want to know: “Is it helping?”

Measuring success can be very tricky when dealing with earned media. If you set goals at the beginning of your campaign, you can track your success in meeting those goals throughout. But if you’re new to setting baseline goals for an earned media strategy, this can be the hardest concept to grasp.

Consider looking at how other pieces of content have performed on your site to gather data to help set a baseline. Choose two similar pieces of content: one that you actively promoted and one that you did not. Check the referral traffic, organic traffic, unique visits and social visits for each. The non-promoted content will give you an idea of how a standard page performs on your website, while the promoted piece can give you more insight into the numbers you could consider for a baseline. Regardless of what numbers you set, understanding how they tie into the goals will be the ultimate decider of your success.

Whether you are building a strategy for traffic or conversion, developing earned media strategies takes on a different shape for every piece of content you create and understanding your goals and target audience allows you to deliver the right message every time. And when you’re building content that the audience wants, your social and paid aspects become a bonus for amplifying your content. But how do you know what people are saying about your brand? Do you want to know how to monitor these conversations? There are ways to get statistical results. Here’s how:

Turn On Alerts

We’ve all googled ourselves, and our companies (don’t forget to check in google news too). Let the search engines do the work for you! Search engine alerts are an excellent tool to make sure you don’t miss any mentions in the news or online. There is nothing better than gaining newsworthy mentions (except finding those mentions and adding them to your brand cred of course).

These alerts, such as Google Alerts, can let you know when your company name, brand, or particular search terms are used. Setting up alerts for conditions unique to your PR efforts can let you know who is noticing what you are producing. Setting up alerts for competitors name is also a good way to stay in the know.

Social Media Mentions

Putting your finger on the pulse of the social media sites can tell you if people are talking about you. Facebook Insights can help you track the performance of your Facebook page and your social ads to let you know how you’re doing. Tracking your Tweets with tools such as the Twitter Alerts tool can tell you if your press is causing a stir. If you are using a specific/brand hashtag on Instagram, make sure to search for that as well to see if it is catching on. Iconosquare is a great analytics tool for your Instagram account to measure and optimize your performance. SocialMention also allows you to track and measure what people are saying about you easily, your company, a new product or any topic across the web’s social media landscape in real-time.

Measure Your Click-Through-Rate

The click-through-rate is a measurable way to track the success of your marketing by tracking the number of times a link is clicked by customers. An easy way to track your CTR is by shortening your link using a tool such as Bitly, and then giving that link to the outlet that is covering you.

Always Follow Up Your Pitches

The reality is that you will rarely get placements the first go around. Instead, most of your placements will be a result of your follow ups. Journalists get hundreds, if not thousands of emails a day. Sometimes things fall through the cracks. Just because they don’t respond doesn’t always mean they aren’t interested.

As we mentioned before, wait around 3-4 days before you follow up.  Sometimes, replying to your initial email is a good way of follow up. It keeps the communication in a single feed and is especially useful when you are adding new or timely information on top of your original pitch. While you can use that technique sometimes, we find it often more efficient just to send an entirely new email. There was a reason that first email didn’t get a response. The chances are slim that the same subject line or content will pique interest a second time. A new email acts as a fresh start to get attention. Rework your pitch. Create a new angle. This is the value and expertise you bring to the table and is more effective than annoying people with endless follow-up on the same idea. And remember always to keep following up to a minimum. One follow-up per pitch. Here is an excellent follow-up pitch to use (SamleFollowUpPitchSamplePitch).

Landing Page Results

One of the biggest reasons for doing content marketing is to acquire earned media and increase traffic to your page. Once customers are on your page, they can see your Call to Action, whether that is to sign up for your newsletter or give you their email address. But to see if your efforts are working, it is important to track your landing page results. One of the easiest ways to do this is with Google Analytics. While it can seem a daunting task to someone who has never used it before, the resulting reports can give you valuable information about your leads and whether they were organic, obtained by an online ad, social media mention or from a press placement.

Make New Friends

A simple and significant statistic that is easy to determine is the number of new customers you have. This can be in the form of new friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter, sign-ups for your newsletter, members on your site, or any other sign that people are now aware of you and watching what you do.

Whether a stronger presence on the social media sites, number of readers of your blog, or original hits on your website, it all means the same thing. People who didn’t visit your site before are now aware that you exist.

And if you aren’t sure if someone found you because of a publicity hit, ask them! It’s surprising how many times people don’t know where they found out about you, but it’s always worth asking them.

Overall, just remember that consistent PR efforts are a good thing to do and a great way to keep a long-term view of your success. While advertising with Adwords or in a glossy magazine may get you the traffic while you pay for it, a good story in a good outlet will be around for a long time. It’s worth it to put in some effort with that long-term view in mind.