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Proving PR Success with Google Analytics

Katie Donabedian

Katie Donabedian

Measuring PR success and proving value to your client, boss or executive team can be a struggle. As a digital marketer here at Walker Sands, I am used to concrete numbers and have plenty of data to prove the success of my team’s campaigns. When I started working more closely with the PR team, I realized how some benefits of public relations are hard to measure – or even quantify. I’m sure you’re familiar with reporting on placements you worked really hard to get and hearing, “Great, but what does that mean from a business perspective?”

Well, I’m here to tell you that Google Analytics can help you prove the success of your PR campaigns. Google Analytics is a totally free tool that is easy to set up and use. Chances are, the website you are driving traffic to already has Google Analytics set up. If that’s the case, your client or digital marketing team can grant you access to view the data. If not, you can ask your developer to add a small piece of code to the header file of every page on the website.

Now for the good stuff: These are the things Google Analytics can help you prove.

  1. Prove that PR placements are sending traffic to the website
  2. Prove that PR placements are sending leads to the sales team
  3. Prove that content created as a part of the PR program is generating leads

Prove that PR placements are sending traffic to the website

Placements can build brand awareness and thought leadership in the industry, but they can also drive traffic to your website. It’s important to note that you can only get traffic if the publication links to your site, so don’t forget to follow up with reporters to request a link. Chances are you might be missing out on getting credit for PR traffic – so let’s get you some.

The first thing you want to do is make sure you are tracking your placements in a central location. All you will need for this metric is the URL of the placement. Then, you will create an advanced segment in Google Analytics that tracks the domain names of your placements.

Once your segment is set up and turned on, click on the Referrals report under Acquisition.


Once you select Referrals, you will see the name of the advanced segment you made and the number of visits your PR placements sent to the site. Analytics also gives the percentage of total website visits. In the example below, around 6% of all website visits came from PR placements.


Prove that PR placements are sending leads to the sales team

Once you set up your advanced segment to track how much traffic comes from placements, you can use the same segments to track how many leads came from PR placements. First, make sure that goal tracking is turned on. Click on Overview under Goals to double check.


If goal tracking is not set up, you will see an error message. If it is set up, you will see a screen that looks like this.


Each form on the site should be set up as a goal. Now go back to the referrals tab under acquisition and click on Goal Set 1 just above the chart.

PR Placements

Notice that the Goal Conversion Rate column appears next to the Sessions column.


Multiply the Sessions column by the Goal Conversion Rate column to get the total number of conversions. In the example above, 27 leads came directly from PR placements.

Prove that content created as a part of the PR program is generating leads

If you are creating content that includes whitepapers, data studies or infographics as part of your PR program, make sure you put them up on your website behind forms and track them as goals.

You can track the progress of each goal in the Overview tab under Goals.

In the example above, you can see that 191 out of a total of 245 leads came from resources developed for the purpose of PR and marketing. That’s 78% of all leads the website sent to the sales team this month, which is pretty impressive.

I hope that these tips can help you better prove the success of PR campaigns to your numbers-driven stakeholders. With that said, these are only a few awesome ways to use Google Analytics to measure PR. I urge you to start digging through the data and see what you can uncover – I promise people will think you are really smart.

Looking for a partner who can track integrated campaigns? Contact us today.