Silver Marketing Association Member | CIPR | MPA Inspiration Award

Reporting in the Digital Era


The way we report and measure the success of our work for clients has changed greatly over the years.

Businesses are now less focused on the old, more traditional metrics, and instead want to know ways that leads and sales can be effectively measured and attributed.  

Here’s what you need to know about how we now measure our success in a digital era.

Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) isn’t relevant anymore

There’s no denying that much of our work has shifted focus towards generating online pieces of coverage over print. It’s often more valuable to them thanks to the backlinks it brings with it.

Print coverage was measured using the Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE). AVE considers the size of the actual piece, the page it is located on, and how much it would have cost in advertising. However, this means it doesn’t translate so well online. Plus, our industry bodies, such as CIPR, no longer recognise AVE as a metric for measuring success.

Reasons why AVE is not a recognised metric

One reason why is that AVE doesn’t take into account the tools media publications utilise to extend the reach of news stories. For example, this could be through a publication’s social media platforms or newsletters.

Secondly, it places less value on influencers. Although bloggers and influencers will have lower circulation numbers than national online publications, their audience is actually more engaged. Plus, in the age of fake news, blogs are often considered more trustworthy.

Another reason why AVE is irrelevant to today’s PR standards is not every business has the same objectives. For example, we have a number of clients who would rather focus on generating leads. Other aspects clients may want to focus on in terms of coverage include brand penetration or even the number of quotes featured for a spokesperson within their business. The AVE value does not take any of this into account.

There’s also the additional value that can be had through coverage that may not be as easily measurable.

This could include:

  • increases in site traffic and dwell time on a website
  • a click-through on an email that wouldn’t have occurred had they not been aware of the brand
  • new followers on social media

These reasons explain why, in our digital age, we need to switch up our reporting. This leads us on to another traditional PR metric.

PR Value is a misleading metric

For years, we have been providing our clients details of not only the AVE of a piece of coverage, but also a PR Value. Editorial is considered much more credible and trustworthy than advertising. This is why we highlight a PR Value for each piece of coverage.

We calculate the PR value figure to be 2.5 times higher, and therefore more valuable and effective, than a piece of advertising would be. This is also a recognised way of calculating a PR value for a piece.

However, in the same way that AVE is outdated, PR value could also be considered a misleading and irrelevant metric.

Arguably, the PR value that we attribute to a piece is not a true reflection of the amount of work that actually goes into securing pieces of coverage for clients. What the PR value doesn’t take into account are aspects such as the research and drafting of a piece, as well as liaison with both the media and clients.

Measuring online coverage

So if AVE and PR Value are no longer applicable to the PR industry, how do we measure the success of our online coverage for clients instead? Five of the key metrics we use include:

1. Backlinks

We always aim to achieve a backlink when pitching for online pieces.

Securing backlinks brings a whole host of benefits. These include an increase in website traffic, improved SEO and Google ranking and can ultimately result in more leads and/or sales.

Plus, with the use of Google Analytics, we are able to track the journey of each user to the site. This means we can find out exactly how much traffic a piece of coverage generates and the action it results in once a user lands there.

2. Social media reach, shares and engagements

While we have access to the readership figures of a website, we can get a more accurate figure of the potential reach from social media.

Firstly, we’ll take into account the number of followers a website has on social media.

Similarly, when they share a client’s news on their social media channels, we can monitor for the on-page engagements and shares they receive. We can then also monitor our client’s own social media channels for any spikes in traffic, impressions or engagement which may be as a result of this mention.

3. Domain Authority

When it comes to choosing our target media for our clients, we take into account the domain authority of the websites.

The overall aim is to secure pieces on websites which have a higher domain authority than our client’s own website. This is so that we can ultimately increase our client’s own domain authority and Google search ranking.

4. Brand mentions

If a client’s business objective is focused on raising brand awareness, we’ll measure our success through the number of overall brand mentions we achieve through our PR activity.

This could be through the original online article, and shares on social media – whether that’s the publication’s own social channels or its followers.

5. Cost per acquisition

Lastly, if your business’ focus is on generating sales or leads, we can measure the success of our activity through the cost per acquisition.

We can also track success through the Cost Per Thousand (CPM), which is the cost per impression. However, we find cost per acquisition is a more effective metric for our clients.

Cost per acquisition is the most beneficial metric. This is because it actually takes into account the number of people who have made a purchase or taken action.

To find out our top four tools we like to use to measure our PR activity, check out our blog here.

Do you need an experienced agency to handle your digital PR? Get in touch with us by calling 0161 850 0565 or emailing


Like to know more?

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Want to see our stuff?

Have a nosey at all of our latest PR and creative
projects to see what we've been working on lately

see case studies