Corporate communicators need to understand, measure and more effectively communicate brand reputation to the C-Suite. This is one of the core findings in the just-released Zignal Labs/PR Week survey called “The Bottom Line on Reputation.”

Specifically, 74% of 174 survey respondents (senior communications leaders from top brands and agencies) admit they have room to improve in terms of demonstrating measurable outcomes to the C-Suite.And 66% report they could use better tools and tactics to do so.

Another survey conclusion: Comms directors and the C-Suite alike are finally realizing that impressions do not provide insights into brand reputation.

“We had generated 2.2 billion impressions [in our 2017 tax preparation campaign],” said H&R Block director of external communications, Susan Waldron, who was interviewed after completing the survey. “But the number left us scratching our heads and asking, ‘So what?’ We couldn’t use this number to explain the value of the campaign in business metrics that matter to executives.”

She was not alone in this belief that impressions do not carry the same weight as they once did to measure the impact of earned media. When asked how they gauge the effectiveness of their brand messages, only 34% of survey respondents placed the amount of impressions in the top three reasons. Even less, about 21%, said they use clip reports or media monitoring as the most frequent way to demonstrate the value of comms to the C-Suite.

Finding a Direct Line Between Comms and Business

With impressions and clips behind us, what will show value to the C-Suite?

First, your media analytics program should contain metrics that align with your business goals. Business metrics can typically be found in five categories: brand reputation, brand awareness, brand preference, competitive metrics, and customer metrics. (These categories are explored in detail in my previous post, Media Metrics that Matter to Businesses and Brands.)

Second, your analytics program should integrate these business metrics with those from other data-relevant activities. For example, if you see a spike in your website traffic, you can look for the cause in Google Analytics – did the media interviews with your CEO drive consumers to your site? Or perhaps there were hundreds of retweets of an influencer’s social media post that were responsible. It could have simply been the weather, or a sale on your site. Or maybe an email newsletter or another piece of content inspired users to download white papers or e-books, sign up for a product trial, join your mailing list, or purchase products.

By combining insights from your social media platform with learnings from Google Analytics, you can identify business and reputation findings to demonstrate value to the C-Suite.

As an example, a few years ago, I led a PR agency’s ROI study for a major CPG client, to determine whether a social media campaign or a paid online ad campaign generated more traffic to the client’s website. Through tagging and unique URLs, we examined how 800-thousand unique visitors arrived at the site – 72% came via social media, while 28% were attracted by online ads.

We then compared the cost-per-unique-user from the social campaign against the paid ad promotion. We learned that the paid campaign cost the client about $15 per unique visitor, while the social campaign cost a mere 50 cents per visitor. As a result of this staggering difference, the client moved part of their advertising budget to the PR agency.

So be sure to tag every piece of your online content, and also use unique URLs. Google Tag Manager will show the number of people who visited your site after viewing your online content.

If you are thinking that Google Analytics is not a new method of measurement, you are right. But its social reports and other updates offer a modern refresh, resulting in important trends coming to light in a new way.

Discovering Helpful Performance Indicators in Google Analytics

Over the years, most website analysts identified unique visitors, sessions and page views as key performance indicators. But now Google provides attribution models to try to answer questions about user behavior, in addition to social reports with revenue and conversion data.

Google Attribution was launched earlier this year to measure the impact of marketing across devices and across channels. This product also introduced data-driven attribution, which uses machine learning to see how consumers first engage with your brand through the final click before purchase.

This helps you drill down to meaningful business and reputation metrics, along with Google Social Reports introduced in the last couple of years to define which social media channels drive traffic to your site.

  • A metric in the Social Sources Report called “Visits via Social Referral” shows where your social traffic originated before coming to your website. These recent conversations are also visualized.
  • In the Social Pages Report, you can find which content on your site is frequented by people who came there from social media.
  • To determine how many conversions came directly from social media, the Conversion Report examines each social channel and lists the conversions and, better yet, the conversion value.

Together these reports provide you with a much clearer picture on how your social content and your website traffic are tied to your business, your reputation, and in some cases, how this impacts revenue.


Combining media metrics for business and Google Analytics might not seem easy for someone who has never conducted this type of research before. But there are many websites, YouTube videos, and Google resources to show you how to set up your Social Media dashboard and reports.

You can also learn how to set up a Google Analytics tracking code, add your social media goals, create campaign- or product-specific links with Google’s URL builder, and implement Google Tag Manager.

By using this combined methodology, you will be on your way to correlating business data with social analytics, and effectively communicating brand reputation to the C-Suite.

Download the Zignal/PRWeek 2018 Brand Health Study for more findings in the survey.