June 16, 2015
/ by Susan Guillory
It frustrates me when people tell me their marketing or PR isn’t working. I dig deeper, asking what they’re doing, and what their goals are. That’s when they stare at me blankly.
Goals? What goals? I’m supposed to have goals?
If you don’t know what you want to happen as a result of your marketing or PR, how can you get upset when it doesn’t happen?
This scenario happens over and over again with press releases. Either people don’t have expectations or their expectations were unreasonable.
“I want The New York times to pick up my story. Duh.”
Ummm, I hate to burst your bubble of self-denial, but that probably won’t happen. I do my best to manage expectations for my clients so they’re not disappointed when Barbara Walters doesn’t call them for an interview. (Yea, I just dated myself.)
So I guide people toward reasonable goals and then show them what to measure so they know that their press releases were actually a success, despite the lack of fame that resulted.
OK, get out your paper and pen, because I’m going to tell you what numbers and metrics to pay attention to when you publish a press release online.
Boasting that your press release was distributed on 200 sites isn’t all that impressive if they’re crappy sites. Just sayin’. You want quality sites like Google News, Yahoo! and well-respected industry websites to host your press release, because you know that real people read news there. 1800PressReleaseCrap.com? Not so much. So we’re aiming for quality over quantity.
How can you sway where it’s published? Well, in a large part, it depends on the relationships that your online distribution service has with other websites. But when you set up your press release, make sure you choose the most relevant categories for your release, as the magical fairies that publish your release will use those to direct where it goes.
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Not every press release will get the same number of people reading it. But that’s okay: measure press releases to tell you which topics have received the most attention. If your announcement of your campaign to offer nonprofits a free version of your software had a ton of reads, you know people are more interested in that topic than about a recent update to your software.
Here are the analytics for one of my press releases for my company. The release was about my company being a finalist in a competition for home-based businesses. When I compare the reads for this release to a previous one announcing my writing for Forbes, this one had nearly double the reads. So this tells me my audience is more interested in either home-based businesses or competitions. I can enter more of those to garner more attention!
You can use this knowledge about the number of reads to tailor future press releases, as well as blog posts and other content.
Another important metric is the number of impressions your press release gets. This refers to how many times it appeared online, either directly on a webpage or in an RSS feed.
Lower impression numbers might indicate that you didn’t do a good job using keywords to direct people to the release, or that your headline was a bit vague and didn’t do a good job of telling readers what your news was about. Use this information to be more specific and targeting in future releases.
Ultimately, you want people who read your press release to be so intrigued with your brand that they click the link to your site or product. Your analytics will tell you exactly how many people did exactly that.
After issuing a few press releases, you can get a sense of what the average number for each of these measurements is. Then you can start setting goals. If you don’t hit your mark, look at why. You should first look to see if you’re doing a good job in targeting who you want to read the release, that your headline is specific, and that your news is actually interesting. Tweak your next release and see if results improve.
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Images: jkfid, Okko Pyykkö (Creative Commons)
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