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A Curious Relationship Between Click-Through Rates & News Releases

My company researches, writes, optimizes and launches (via Cision) multimedia news releases that are designed to generate leads and new business opportunities for my clients.

In the past, a couple of clients have had mini-freak outs when they noticed that the click-through rate (CTR) for one of their releases was low. Their first thought was that the news wasn’t of interest to their target customers, and sales could suffer as a result.

I gently explained to them that their fears – and freak outs – were an overreaction, and not only would company sales not decline, they actually were positioned to improve.

Here’s why:

When my clients’ online news release don’t have a clear call-to-action, like details about a discount or special offer, it can be tough for these releases to generate immediate CTR. However, by including precise examples of the specific benefits that their organization’s offerings can deliver to customers, their Cision online news releases have the potential to energize offline sales and also stimulate future online sales.

Case in point:

Gold Nugget - Click Throughs and Online News Releases

One of my clients is a creative media arts college with nine campuses across the U.S. The college offers diplomas and degrees in audio engineering, music business studies and digital journalism. After conferring with the college’s admissions teams, I learned that the most important enrollment considerations of their prospective students were how well the college would prepare them for a creative media career, and also if the college’s career services team and international alumni network could help them get hired.

Using these “gold nugget needs” that the college’s prospective students shared with its admissions teams, I’ve been pursuing a PR campaign that shares success stories about alumni and current students. Each of these stories validates and proves the college’s ability to deliver on the two key goals that its prospective students are most focused upon:

  • The college prepares its students well for careers in the creative media field
  • The college’s career services team and alumni network help grads to find good paying jobs at top companies

With no discounts or special offers as the hooks, the CTRs for these news releases are low. However, the reads and engagement metrics (shares, print outs) are high – indicating that these stories are being found in searches, attracting attention, and potentially influencing the initial stages of a buyer’s journey and future enrollments for the college.

Another way that these low CTR releases have been valuable for the college is as offline sales tools used by the admissions teams. To confirm that their campus delivers what prospective students are looking for, I recommended that the teams present and discuss news releases about their noteworthy students and alumni in admissions interviews. This tactic has been influential in stimulating enrollments at each of the college’s campuses.

A similar scenario existed for an artisan organic perfume manufacturer that sells to retailers and direct to consumers. The primary “gold nugget need” that this client wished to emphasize was that along with offering exquisite and all-natural scents to customers, their USDA certified organic perfumes also delivered holistic wellness benefits.

As with the creative media college’s releases, the perfumery’s releases were informational, and had no CTR-boosting discount or special sale to promote. But the releases’ reads and engagement metrics were sizable, and within four months of their launch, the perfumery was contacted by a TV news show about being featured in a story of the dangers of commercial perfumes. The company also received an order from a European retail chain that had discovered their releases in a search for organic perfume manufacturers.

It’s understandable that execs have their noses to the screen when reviewing the CTR for  their online news releases.  But even when clicks are slim, news releases that are optimized to address the “gold nugget needs” of their target customers can be bolster, invigorate, and ramp up offline and online sales.

Want pitches that earn media placements? Get tips from renowned pitching coach Michael Smart at his February 26 webinar!


Rafe Gomez is a principal at VC Inc. Marketing, a provider of Sales Inquiry Optimized (S.I.O.) multimedia content for companies around the world.  His work has been featured in Marketing Profs, Adweek, Direct Marketing News, Entrepreneur, MSNBC, and many others.  @vcincmarketing

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