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The most common method of evaluating a public relations campaign is to compile press clippings and broadcast mentions, according to Dennis L. Wilcox’s Public Relations: Writing and Media Techniques. With the advent of the Internet, blogs and social media, media channels have evolved and new monitoring tools have been introduced. But the goal of tracking media hits remains the same: to evaluate the success of a campaign.
Keep track of all sent press releases, then create a log, which can either be a spreadsheet or a hand-written sheet with at least four columns. Label columns with the date, name of the release or slug line, media outlets to which the release was sent and the outlets where the release or story appeared. As media hits come in, record the placement.
Implement a Google Alert for your organization or company name and all variations. Google Alerts can be set to send as they happen, daily or weekly. All searchable mentions of your company will be sent to your email inbox. You also can create searches for key spokespeople and experts in your company.
Hire a clipping service to monitor media coverage and provide clips. Compare services and pricing, which vary from company to company. Using a clipping service can provide access to thousands of print publications that do not publish online.
Subscribe to local newspapers and magazines, and follow up with reporters and producers to track stories you may have missed.
Monitor social media. Free tools like Social Mention track information on blogs and other social networking sites. You also can hire a firm to do this.
Include in a press release a toll-free number or a Web address, using a special URL for each campaign, that recipients can access to request a brochure or sample. Count the number of phone calls or Web hits to track interest.
Use quotes around your Google Alert query to avoid irrelevant results.
Since 2000 Donna T. Beerman has contributed to newspapers and magazines. Her expertise includes higher education, marketing and social media, and her presentations and writing have won industry awards. She has an MFA in creative writing, is the integrated marketing manager at a Pennsylvania college and founded "Hippocampus Magazine."