pr strategy

Value over Vanity: How to Future-proof Your PR Strategy

How do you know if you are making an impact on your target audience and contributing to business growth? How do you prove it to your CFO and board of directors?

Many businesses struggle to understand the worth of their PR activities, in comparison to more directly measurable marketing strategies. However, communication decisions do not need to be based on gut feel.

Setting the right objectives and accurately tracking your PR strategy performance is crucial. Focusing on the wrong Key Point Indicators (KPIs) can create a false perception of success and failure alike, leading to misguided decisions.

This prompts the question: What measurement framework should you use to demonstrate tangible business results and the value of PR?

In this article, we will discuss the importance of differentiating between vanity and actionable (or valuable) metrics for driving long-term success.

The article is inspired by a discussion I had on FIBEP’s Media Intelligence Explained podcast. You can listen to the full episode below to find out more about the hottest trends for the PR industry for 2023.

Let’s dive in!

What are Vanity metrics?

Vanity metrics are typically quantity-based datapoints that can look impressive on paper but don’t necessarily translate into concrete business results.

Examples of such metrics can include volume of media coverage, social media followers, advertising value equivalent, оr impressions. While these metrics might help with brand awareness, they can’t be analysed in isolation; they are media-centric and won’t tell you anything about the impact you have made on your audience / customers.

That’s why vanity metrics can be misleading when it comes to evaluating your business’ real performance or return on investment (ROI). 

What are Value metrics?

On the opposite side, value (or outcome-based) metrics actually do provide insights on how your business is performing, and more importantly, how communication drives business success; they offer data-driven evidence that can guide your strategic decisions.

These metrics can also illuminate the ROI of your PR activities, a crucial aspect often elusive in traditional PR models.

Examples of outcome-based metrics include audience engagement, conversions (e.g. clickthroughs to websites for more information, to register, subscribe, join), intention, increased awareness, behavioural change. These metrics provide evidence of how effectively you are attracting, engaging, and retaining audiences, ultimately determining the financial effectiveness of your PR efforts.

Can metrics be both Vanity and Value?

Yes, in some cases, they can. The same metric can prove value or be vanity depending on the business and its goals. That’s why when choosing which metrics to adopt, it’s important to ask yourself: Why does this metric matter to my business and how far it is from driving the results we aspire to?

For example, if you are running a PR campaign, new social media followers could be a vanity metric if you only consider the numbers. However, if you delve deeper into the metric and consider the engagement rate over time, it becomes an actionable metric that offers insights into how effective your PR strategies are.

Are Vanity metrics bad?

Not necessarily. While they shouldn’t directly contribute to business decisions, vanity metrics can still play a role in understanding your business’s overall brand awareness or popularity, so they are worth taking note of. But it’s important to recognise their limitations and not solely rely on them for decision making.

Transforming Vanity metrics into Value metrics

So how do you transform vanity metrics into value/actionable metrics?

It’s all about digging deeper into the ‘metrics funnel’ and finding the relevance in the numbers.

Take, for instance, the measure of impressions (a broad, top-of-funnel vanity metric) garnered by a press release posted on social media. While this metric might provide a sense of how widely your message is disseminated, it does not reveal how your audience interacts with that message and what they think of its content.

Instead, consider focusing on metrics like the number of shares of your press release across social media platforms, or the number of times it resulted in direct inquiries about your product or service.

These actionable metrics can provide deeper insights into audience engagement and the effectiveness of your PR message, bringing you closer to understanding your audience’s decision-making process.

6 tips for Future-proofing your PR strategy

Future-proofing your PR strategy involves anticipating changes and trends, embracing new technologies and tools, and continually evaluating and refining your approach. Here are some tips:


1)  Keep your audience at the centre of your PR strategy.

Understanding their needs, preferences, and behaviours will help you create campaigns that resonate with them and build strong relationships.


2)  Ensure your PR strategy aligns with your overall business goals.

This will make it easier to demonstrate the value of your PR efforts and ensure they contribute to your business’s success.


3)  Transform vanity into value wherever you can.

Identify your KPIs and focus on value, while keeping an eye on vanity for gauging your brand’s visibility, and for morale boost.


4)  Utilise data analytics to understand your audience better, measure the success of your campaigns, and inform your strategy.

This will allow you to make more informed decisions and accurately measure the ROI of your PR efforts.


5)  Leverage AI & automation for efficiency and insights.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation technologies offer vast potential for PR. They can do the heavy lifting, saving precious time, by automating repetitive tasks, filtering through vast data sets, and thus freeing up your time to focus on more strategic activities.


6)  Future-proof your skills by always keeping up with the latest techniques, trends, and best practices.

This could involve attending industry events, subscribing to relevant newsletters, or listening to podcasts such as Media Intelligence Explained.

By adopting these strategies and mindset, you can make your PR efforts more resilient, adaptable and effective in an ever-changing landscape.

Bottom line

To conclude, while vanity metrics can provide insights into the reach and visibility of your PR campaigns, they should not be analysed in isolation; the interpretation of the data is a critical part of analysing any data and combing that with actionable metrics is crucial to understanding the true performance and value of your strategies.

A balanced approach, focusing on value over vanity, will set you on the path to future-proof business growth.

Remember, in the world of PR, data is only as valuable as the insights you can extract and act upon.

Listen to the full podcast episode below to learn more about how to future-proof your PR strategies.

If you want to find out how you can extract the most value out of your PR campaigns through bespoke media intelligence and reporting, Ruepoint offers truly global solutions for PR teams looking to optimise their performance and showcase the value of their work. Reach out and let’s talk!

Raina LazarovaRaina Lazarova

Raina Lazarova

Co-founder and COO of Ruepoint. Passionate about people, media and communication, highlighting the role of empathy in being an effective communicator and creating ethical business models. Let's connect on LinkedIn!


[…] mantra is “Value over Vanity” when it comes to earned media. Vanity metrics might look good, but what practical purpose do they […]

[…] the flip side, value metrics, also known as outcome-based metrics, truly gauge PR success. These metrics offer valuable insights into how your PR activities drive business growth and […]

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