4 minute read

How to monitor & report on PR coverage for free (or with a very small budget)

Our industry has rapidly changed in the last couple of weeks. Many of us are reviewing operations and trying to cut costs but this doesn’t mean that work has stopped. For many, it’s simply pivoted, and the coverage is still coming in…

If this is you, great news! However times are uncertain and budgets need to be tightly-managed. So when a big annual software renewal comes in it seems a little daunting right now. 

Fear not. Although full-service packages are helpful and save time if you simply can’t afford them right now there are other options for coverage monitoring and reporting. 

It’s time to be resourceful! 

Here are our tips on how to monitor, report and analyse your PR coverage for FREE or very (very) little budget.

Monitor coverage for free 

Google Alerts, a PR practitioner’s best friend right? Sure it doesn’t find everything but it covers most sites, can be set up in 5 minutes and it’s free! You get an email when it finds something (and you can set it to once a day at a specified time).

Searching on Google for coverage might seem very obvious but it’s good to ensure it’s part of the workflow. Manually searching alongside Alerts should have you covered. Remember to use the tools at the top to refine your search such as ‘news’ to only get articles etc. 

My co-worker and online PR expert Laura Joint also suggests swatting up on ‘Boolean Search’ to help find more in find more in search engines – more on that here

Monitoring with a small budget

Mention covers news sites as well as social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and covers 42 languages.

There is a free trial and after that you are moved to a free plan which includes 1 alert and 250 monthly mentions. If you need more, prices start from only $29 a month. 

Talkwalker Alerts are great. Very similar to Google Alerts, however it’s been made by people that understand communications so the alerts are designed for our needs.  This is a stand alone tool from the guys that make Talkwalker Analytics which is a social listening and analytics platform. The full listening product is obviously a paid service however it does have brand image recognition capabilities among other features so it’s worth exploring when budget becomes available.

Gather metrics for free

Now that you have your coverage, let’s look at gathering some metrics to support your coverage.

Monthly traffic to the publisher site – SimilarWeb

At CoverageBook, we found the most accurate place to gather data was from SimilarWeb. They have a free plan where you can type in the website where you achieved coverage and it will let you know the number of visits to that site.

Influence of the publisher site – Moz

We also use data from Moz  and again, they have a free plan where you can visit the website and put in the address of your coverage and it will provide the Domain Authority of that site.

Social shares of coverage

For some pieces of coverage, you can helpfully see the total shares at the bottom of the piece. If this is not available, sites like Shared Count can help you. They won’t provide you with Twitter share counts but do cover FaceBook. 

All of the above?

We made a free tool called CoverageBot. It analyses individual pieces of coverage and provides traffic estimates from Similarweb, domain authority and social shares. We even give you a screenshot too! Nice eh 😉

Traffic from your earned coverage to ‘owned’ content

We created AnswerTheClient because we wanted people in PR to find who had engaged with their coverage without having to spend an hour in analytics! This tool uses your Google Analytics data to help simply demonstrate what traffic your coverage sent to a specific website. Have a go, it’s free. AnswerTheClient.com

Gather metrics with a small budget

Buzzsumo starts from $99 a month and will not only track the coverage for you but also provide data such as social shares, backlinks and the Domain Authority which you can pull into an Excel sheet.

Report design for free 

Screen-grab Tools

There are lots of screen grabbing tools out there that can screengrab your coverage for you – and probably some already installed on your computer. If you don’t have one, I use Skitch which you can download for free on Macs and PCs.

GoogleSlides: One of the easiest free ways to collate your coverage is Google Slides. One of the great things about using google slides is the share option, you can share via link and choose which email addresses can edit – so you can collaborate on the one document easily with your team or view only for when you present your final report to your stakeholders

Free GoogleSlide PR report template

We really care about people’s time. So Stefan Testka, our head of design at CoverageBook created this report template for you to make a copy of and use for your own free coverage report creation.

Below is a Slideshare of the design, you will see there are placeholders for a front cover, highlights, metrics and clips.

Just go to the GoogleSlide report template here, make your own copy & you’re good to go!

Canva: If you want to add a bit more sparkle, Canva is a free graphic design tool. It can be used in a variety of ways from social media images to infographics and coverage reports!  Users can choose among design templates or create from scratch, which is the better option for report design. It does take a while to manually set up the layout you need and you will need to set time aside to input the screen grabs and metrics. However, once that is set the tool is easy to use. It uses a drag-and-drop technique to make uploading, adding and arranging features very quick.

If you want to add a higher level of design, why not add campaign-themed images as a background? Unsplash and Pixabay are great for free image downloads.

Report design, image and data capture and coverage organisation with a small budget?

This is where we recommend our own tool, CoverageBook. There are of course ways to create PR reports for no software cost at all but it does take a lot of time… 

CoverageBook automates the process so you can spend longer on evaluation, campaign planning or doing something else! Have a read of how these users find the tool here on G2 Reviews.

Plans start at $99 per month and unlike many PR tools there is no contract or annual lock-in so it is a little easier to manage during financially uncertain times. We offer a free trial so you can see if it works for your and your team, claim yours here