PR reporting 101: how to, format & samples

PR reports are about showing your clients the fruits of your PR efforts. What went well, what didn’t, and what needs to be improved. These are some of the questions you need to answer in a PR report backed by evidence. This directory will give you a complete, step-by-step guide on how to write PR progress and coverage reports. We’ll demystify the whys and hows at each turn and provide best practices, samples, and templates.

Matias Rodsevich  |   
2024-01-10

Emma, a savvy PR pro, found herself steering a campaign for an important client. Emma wasn't just juggling a strategy; she had to turn that chaos into a PR masterpiece. If you're currently channeling your inner Emma, feeling the pressure, and resorting to Google on how to write a PR report, we’ll show you how to reveal the narrative behind the numbers.

As a PR professional, you have the expertise to see through complicated metrics, including the data from media coverage, social media monitoring, crisis analysis, and current positionings. Still, clients aren’t equipped with the same knowledge or tools.

You’ll need to create a PR report for them, whether it’s quarterly, monthly, or yearly, that details how their brand is doing in the digital marketplace.

This article will outline the key elements needed for a compelling and easy-to-understand PR report. It’s ideal if you want to learn everything there is to know about how to write a PR progress report or if you’re looking to refresh your process for better workflow.

What is a PR report?

As a PR professional, you’ll have to measure various metrics such as social echo, mentions, publications, and backlinks.

A PR report is a detailed account of the past month's activities and outcomes. This includes explanations of metrics, campaign results, press release outcomes, and audience engagement. The report concludes with actionable steps for future improvements and progress.

A PR report is heavily reliant on media coverage analysis. Media analysis provides a look into the effectiveness of your press releases, events, and initiatives. You’ll need to understand how the brand is represented, calculate audience reactions to messages, identify media trends that improve engagement, and observe how competitors steer industry shifts. Use this Media Coverage Analysis 101 guide to learn how to analyze and measure press coverage.

A PR report should be drafted depending on your client's expectations. This can be monthly, quarterly, annually, or for a specific campaign or press release. This report can also contain an overview section of objectives, goals for different time frames, clippings (print, broadcast, online media), and upcoming work.

Why are PR reports important?

Relationships between a client or stakeholders need to be consistently initiated, maintained and developed. Brands invest in PR to manage their positive image and as a fallback to crises.

PR is more essential than ever in sustaining an interconnection between business plans, outreach, visibility, and third parties such as journalists, potential customers, and online audiences.

These reports act as a facilitator between brands and businesses needing to maintain their image and the strategies to use so that audiences associate that image with the brand.

Here are a few reasons PR reporting is important:

  • Facilitates communication with brands by informing clients and stakeholders about their outreach efforts.
  • Documents and organizes all the significant information about a brand, including the outcomes of PR activities.
  • Indicates whether or not a brand is adapting to current trends.
  • Helps maintain positive perceptions between a brand and its audiences.
  • Substantiates the success of strategies, assessing whether they require adjustments and guiding the development of future strategies.
  • Contributes to calculating the return on investment (ROI) in PR by quantifying outcomes and assessing them against the resources allocated.
  • Helps plan for future objectives by analyzing metrics and outcomes.

What is the difference between PR reports, media coverage reports, and industry reports?

Although these three reports share similarities, they serve different purposes.

A media coverage report aims to analyze all the metrics derived from media monitoring tools, such as mentions, likes, shares, and comments about a particular brand or individual.

A coverage report documents these to assess the visibility and perception of the brand in the media and how it is received by the public. This report is sometimes shared with external stakeholders but is meant for internal teams, such as the PR and marketing teams and executives.

An industry report provides an overview of a specific industry within which the PR team works. For example, this can include statistics about market trends, competitor analysis, and challenges and opportunities within the industry.

It is a broader report on understanding PR strategies overall perspective and performance for investments and decision-making purposes. It is intended for investors, businesses, policymakers, and researchers.

A PR report has a much smaller scope and works on a need-to-know basis.

An industry report can help your PR reporting by providing information like industry trends and crisis management, but a PR report should solely focus on a specific brand or client. On the other hand, a media coverage report is much more relevant to PR reports because you derive metrics and categories from a coverage report. In simple terms, the goal of a PR report is to inform your client of the progress of your work and how it is directly aligned with their objectives.

Types of PR reports

Now that you have a clear understanding of what a PR report is and why it is important, let's get into the different types of PR reports that can be created to relay different ranges of information. This depends on how often your client wants to be debriefed on your PR efforts, but here are the general descriptions and reasons for creating different types of PR reports.

1. Monthly reports

The most common type of PR reporting is a monthly account within 30 days. Since this is the most frequent, it acts like a status report that offers an update that presents the deliverables, an overview of coverage, and highlights ways you and your client's goals are aligned.

Deliverables refer to ongoing press releases, media content, pending interviews, and other materials for reaching a specific target audience. An overview of coverage includes estimated reach, average domain authority, backlinks, and mentions.

A monthly report also includes tiers 1 and 2 publications. Media outlets are categorized based on their prominence, reach, and influence. The tier classification system helps PR professionals prioritize their outreach efforts, letting them target the most impactful publications. In addition to these, the report visualizes the search engine results page (SERPs) with a graph that compares estimated domain authority (DA) with achieved DAs. The monthly report is completed with a conclusion and a plan for next month's objectives.

2. Quarterly reports

A quarterly report covers three months of PR activities. It offers a more comprehensive view of patterns and long-term performance rather than snap-shorts of immediate outcomes.

It combines metrics from monthly reports to form a bigger picture of PR strategies and how well they work. This includes a deeper overview of objectives throughout the collaboration with actionable steps for the future.

In addition to the categories mentioned in the monthly reports section, a quarterly report provides a better run-down of performance trends with a more strategic perspective on what works and what doesn’t. While monthly reports are useful for tracking ongoing activities and immediate outcomes, quarterly reports deliver a more strategic overview of how to plan the next quarter.

3. Yearly reports

Yearly or annual reports are created to review the public relations activities of an entire year. It is more reflective than monthly and quarterly reports but is much more broad in terms of scope.

A yearly report focuses on long-term achievements, challenges, and how different PR strategies align and encompass the brand's broader objectives. This can be insightful to create stronger objectives for the next year by maintaining and improving PR elements that have brought consistent results and letting go of ones that don’t.

Yearly PR reports provide a more strategic overview of a brand's PR efforts throughout the year. You can derive long-term trends and contributions to organizational goals using this report. Monthly and quarterly reports, on the other hand, give more frequent and detailed snapshots, allowing for ongoing monitoring and adjustment of PR strategies.

4. Crisis response briefs

A crisis response brief refers to a proactive document that is created as an organization's crisis management plan. These are typically created before a crisis to make a clear plan for what will happen if one arises.

While you can be prepared for every emergency, the crisis response brief will give an overview of communication protocols, responses from contacts, and resources.

For example, depending on different situations, you can put together response strategies to address the crisis, such as who will be involved, how to make statements, and how to address the situation. This report aims to train key brand members on how they can mitigate crises by understanding the impact of a crisis and assessing how to manage them using strategies provided by the PR team.

5. Press release coverage reports

A press release coverage report addresses the outcomes of a single campaign. This includes similar categories to a monthly PR report but the metrics presented are based on how well a press release performed.

In simple terms, the report focuses on the deliverables of a certain press release and the successful publications surrounding it. This includes measuring the press release's reach and tone of coverage, how many times it was picked up by publications, the quality of those publications, and how much audience engagement it generated.

How to write a perfect PR report step-by-step

How to write a PR report infographic

Step 1: Choose the right software

The easiest way to create a PR report is to use PR software that integrates your media monitoring tools, their outcomes, and analysis. Rather than inputting data such as social media metrics, publications, and backlinks, PR software is a full-service tool that usually integrates press release software, media monitoring tools, and automated reports.

The traditional method would be to manually collect your analysis, clippings, and data graphs from various tools you may use (spreadsheets and documents) and then put together a report.

Instead of using separate tools, PR software will allow you to do it all in one place with the ability to customize reports. PRHive is a software with a built-in automated reporting tool. You can derive data directly from the software coverage reporting system and input it into your PR report.

Step 2: Deliverables

One of the most important categories is the deliverables section, which presents an overview of newsjacking efforts and achieved or pending coverage for the month. There are specific results or products that a PR team commits to providing as a part of their efforts. These are usually discussed in previous reports and should be aligned with your client's goals and objectives. It should align with their overall messaging and communication strategy.

Deliverables include press releases, crisis communication plans, interviews with talking points, content creation, and design materials such as newsletters, visuals, event promotions, and blogs.

Deliverables are a benchmark for what the PR team needs to produce. These are also often outlined in proposals and contracts to establish the expectations of the value PR will bring to the organization.

Step 3: Metrics

The metrics you collect should depend on the type of PR report you’re creating (monthly, quarterly, or yearly). This is an overview of the coverage and includes a large number of categories.

The raw data acts as evidence indicating how much reach and coverage the organization obtained through your strategies and efforts.

Categories for metrics include:

  • Mentions across news channels
  • Amount of backlinks achieved
  • Social echo (the number of social media posts, shares, retweets)
  • The highest domain authority
  • The estimated reach (potential maximum number of visits on the website)
  • Number of total publications
  • Number of tier 1 publications
  • Number of tier 2 and 3 publications
  • Pending publications
  • Comments pitched

Step 4: Break down the metrics

The next step is to analyze and explain the metrics. This is the main context of your report that conceptualizes how the figures translate into results. In this step, you’ll need to demonstrate how the data leads to coverage by comparing the achieved versus expected outcomes. You can include images of top publications with the highest domain authority and present graphs and visuals to showcase the quality of your work.

By combining thorough analysis, data interpretation, and visual elements, you ensure that the report communicates both the quantitative metrics and provides a qualitative understanding of the impact of your PR efforts.

This will enhance the credibility of your report and help clients and stakeholders make informed decisions based on the results presented.

Step 5: Share of voice (SOV)

The share of voice reflects the proportion of your brand mentions within the overall market's brand mentions. It communicates how well a brand is doing compared to its competitors and how much of the conversation you are taking up within an industry.

This information is valuable in evaluating your brand's influence and formulating future strategies. It articulates the effectiveness of PR efforts through concrete, factual data, enabling you to adapt and refine your strategies.

For instance, if a specific approach fails to yield the desired response, SOV allows you to promptly identify the issue and make real-time adjustments.

Step 6: Overviews and conclusions

The last step is to summarize the past month's activities and outcomes, concluding with actionable steps for future improvements and progress. This should include goals outlined for different timeframes, usually 3, 6, and 12 months and an overview of objectives throughout the collaboration.

This section is used to reiterate transparent communications with the stakeholders where you present the impact of your PR efforts and plan for the future in terms of amplifying coverage.

Best practices

Analyze the evidence

While metrics are significant in revealing the success behind PR strategies, they need to be digestible. When creating a PR report, in addition to the data and graphs, you need to write up what the trend shows. Articulate what the patterns and numbers signify. Ask yourself how the PR initiative you have undertaken presents contextual understandings behind the numerical data.

Consider the qualitative aspects that metrics alone might not fully capture. This approach ensures that the story told by the metrics is not simply statistical but resonates with the narrative of your brand's journey. It will help your client understand the fruits of their investment and help create plans with their complete understanding of where their brand stands.

Analyze the evidence

Use images and graphs

Adding on to articulating metrics, graphs help visualize the story behind the data. These will help reveal trends and make comparisons of current status, estimated trends, and results. It condenses the data and makes it easier for clients to understand the PR outcomes.

Similarly, use images to visualize the positive results of your work. Add images of prominent publications featuring your brand, snapshots of social media interaction, and high-quality backlinks. These images serve as compelling evidence of success and provide stakeholders with a tangible glimpse into the reach and influence the brand has gained.

Use images and graphs

Don’t overlook the progress section

PR reports should focus on summarizing the past month, as well as setting goals for the future. After conceptualizing the data from the previous month, create a concrete plan for the next steps. Use the information extracted from successful strategies. This will prolong the collaboration between you and your client and outline steps for continuous improvement.

Example of a PR report

Here’s an example of the categories and sections a PR report should include:

Monthly PR progress report for EcoTech

Executive Summary

EcoTech continues to make waves in the tech industry with its commitment to sustainability and innovation. This quarter has seen notable achievements, product launches, and positive reception for EcoTech's eco-friendly phone accessories crafted from recycled jewelry.

Deliverables

Product Launch: ReJewel Series
Introduced the ReJewel Series, a collection of premium phone accessories crafted from recycled jewelry.

Strategic Partnership with GreenGem Recycling
EcoTech solidified a partnership with GreenGem Recycling, a leading eco-conscious recycling company. This collaboration ensured a steady supply of high-quality recycled materials for EcoTech's sustainable product lines.

Eco Awareness Campaign
Launched the #GreenTechRevolution campaign, an eco-awareness initiative aimed at educating consumers about the environmental impact of electronic waste and the role of sustainable tech solutions.

Overview of Coverage

  • Total Mentions: 350
  • High-Authority Backlinks (DA 70+): 80
  • Total Likes, Shares, and Comments: 150,000
  • Online News Readership Reach: 3 million
  • Total Publications Secured: 150
  • Tier 1 Publications Secured: 40
  • Tier 2 and 3 Publications Secured: 110
  • Pending Features: 20

Top Publications

  • "EcoTech Unveils ReJewel Series: Transforming Recycled Jewelry into Stylish Phone Accessories" - EcoTech Trends
  • "Sustainability Meets Tech: EcoTech's ReJewel Series Sets a New Standard in Eco-Friendly Accessories" - TechExcellence Awards Journal
  • "Green Innovation: EcoTech's Partnership with GreenGem Recycling Promotes Circular Economy in Tech" - National Tech Showcase

Achieved vs. Expected

The actual social media impressions and interactions exceeded the initial expectations, indicating a high level of audience engagement. The success of the #EcoTechInnovates campaign contributed significantly to this positive outcome.

Overall Goals

3 months
Product Penetration: Achieve a 20% increase in the market share of the ReJewel Series within the first three months through targeted marketing campaigns and strategic partnerships.

6 months
Global Expansion: Launch the ReJewel Series in two additional international markets, establishing EcoTech as a global player in sustainable phone accessories.

12 months
Market Leadership: Attain a 25% increase in overall market share, positioning EcoTech as a leader in the eco-friendly tech industry and setting the stage for sustained growth.

Future Plans

Over the next month, we will consolidate our market presence, expand our product offerings, and deepen our community impact. Here are some key plans:

  • Introduce a line of sustainable tech products beyond accessories.
  • Strengthen our global footprint by entering new international markets
  • Explore collaborations with other tech innovators and startups to create a culture of innovation.

Conclusion

EcoTech has navigated the past month with exceptional achievements and a resounding commitment to its core values of sustainability, innovation, and community engagement. The launch of the ReJewel Series, our groundbreaking line of phone accessories crafted from recycled jewelry, has garnered widespread acclaim and positioned EcoTech as a pioneer in the eco-friendly tech market.

PR report template

While there are various user-friendly design tools you can use to create your report, such as integrated PR software, here are two examples created using Google Slides and spreadsheets. These will get you started on the basic information that needs to be provided in a PR report.

Google Spreadsheet Template 1

Use the first Google spreadsheet template to organize your data. Put together monthly statistics of coverage, top publications, and graphs. This makes it easier to create an analysis of the data once you have all the metrics arranged. You can edit the spreadsheet to add any more relevant categories.

Google Slides Template 2

This Google Slides template will be used to present your final progress report. It includes categories in order, such as deliverables, team introduction, and overview of coverage. Use the data, graphs, and clippings organized using the Google spreadsheet template to fill in the information and focus on analysis-based talking points to complete the report.

Conclusion

As we've navigated through this comprehensive guide on creating a PR progress report, the most important part is transparency and clarity for your clients. Just as Emma transformed campaign chaos into a PR masterpiece, you can use this step-by-step manual to simplify the complexities of media coverage, social media monitoring, crisis analysis, and brand positioning into a compelling narrative.

In every quarterly, monthly, or yearly report, take the opportunity to showcase the impact of your expertise. With an organized and clear PR progress report, you can highlight success stories, challenges, and opportunities for improvement, ensuring that brands understand and appreciate the efforts invested in advancing their brand by PR teams.

Matias Rodsevich
CEO of PRHive
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