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A Step-by-Step Guide to Calculating Press Release ROI

Just like with any marketing or public relations tool, you want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth with your press releases. But if sending a release doesn’t result in a direct sale, how can you measure your ROI?

Start with what you want to accomplish

Why are you sending press releases in the first place? What do you want to achieve? This is the most important piece of information you need to be able to measure the results.

Are you trying to:

  • Drive traffic to your website?
  • Get signups for a whitepaper/email list?
  • Increase sales of a particular product?

Stay away from generic goals like “create brand awareness.” How can you measure something so nebulous? Instead, focus on specifics that are easy to assess. And drive your efforts toward getting readers to click a particular link. If you include four different links going to four different pages on your site, you won’t be able to really determine if you met your goal.

Make each goal as number-specific as possible. If you want signups for a white paper, specify how many. If you want to increase sales, decide by how much.

Each press release might have a different objective, and that’s fine. Just measure up against what each one intended to do.

Write with the goal in mind

Write with goal in mind - Press Release ROI

With that objective front and center, craft your release. Use keywords that will help people find your release. For example, if you want to drive signups for a white paper you published called “Statistics on B2B Marketing,” you’d want to include “B2B marketing” a few times in the release.

Link to the appropriate page. Remember to focus on that single link. If your white paper press release has links to 3 other white papers, readers will get confused and won’t do what you want them to do (download the newest white paper).

Measure results

The thing I love the most about Vocus’ PR suite is the insights it gives me into my press releases. I can generate these professional-looking reports that show my clients how many people viewed their release, how many clicked a link, and where they live. This is all valuable data if you’re trying to gauge how successful a release was.

Press Release Measurement - Referrals

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Press Release Measurement - Impressions

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When I look at all the releases I’ve published, I see a couple of trends. For one, the releases that announce reports, ebooks and white papers get more reads and pickups. The ones that announce companies that have signed on to use my clients’ services don’t tend to do as well. So this tells me which types of releases people like, and now I can write more of them.

But what about return?

Money - Press Release ROI

If your release announces a new product people can buy online, it’s an easy measurement of how many people clicked the link to the product and how many people bought it as a result. If the release cost you $200 to publish and you sold $1,000 worth of product, you netted $800 (and keep in mind, that link will be out there in perpetuity, so you’ll likely continue to drive sales from your release).

But if you’re not selling a product, it’s harder to measure. Instead, focus on how well you achieved those goals. If you wanted to get 200 downloads of your new whitepaper, see if the release helped you accomplish that. You could even assign a value to what a lead is worth that downloads that whitepaper. If you know the likelihood of someone who accesses your whitepaper becoming a customer, this can give you real number data to apply to the ROI formula.

The key to measuring return on a press release is knowing what you wanted to achieve in the first place and determining how well you did in reaching that goal.

Want even more help measuring PR’s impact? Download this free Vocus guide now!

Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, where she helps her clients realize the benefits of social media, content marketing and blogging.

Image: LendingMemo.com, ilouque, Miran Rijavec Stan Dalone (Creative Commons)

About Susan Guillory

Susan Guillory is the president of Egg Marketing & Communications, a marketing firm specializing in content writing and social media management. She frequently blogs about small business and marketing on sites including Cision, Forbes, AllBusiness, Small Business Trends, The Marketing Eggspert Blog and Tweak Your Biz. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.

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