Sending out press releases is a common public relations tactic used by businesses, organizations and individuals to get media coverage and promote news. But how can you tell if your press release campaign is successful?
Here are some tips for measuring the impact and results of your press releases:
Track Media Pickup and Coverage
The most basic metric is to track how many media outlets actually use your press release content. Document all media mentions, articles, segments or coverage generated from each release. Monitor both online and offline media, including newspapers, magazines, websites, TV and radio. Use Google Alerts and Meltwater media monitoring to catch all coverage.
Evaluate the publicity by media tiers – was coverage secured in top national publications and broadcast outlets? Or only minor niche websites? Getting picked up by major media is the highest level of success. Media impressions can also be calculated by multiplying circulation or unique visitors by each media placement.
Most newswires provide this data in a downloadable report. Using tools like CoverageBook can help you evaluate the reach of your publications.
Create a Google Alert for the name of your company, product, or important people mentioned in the release to receive notifications about publications that may not appear on reports.
Check for Key Messages and Quotes
Analyze the articles and stories generated from your press releases. See if your key messages and quotes are incorporated organically. High-quality coverage will use a substantial portion of your press release content, including quotes from company spokespeople and data or info from your materials. If the media coverage rewrites or ignores your messaging, then your press release needs improvement.
Measure Online Engagement
If you distribute press releases on online PR distribution wires, you can track digital metrics like views, social shares, clicks and hover time. Not all newswires provide these metrics, so it’s a good idea to check if the newswire you are using provides the metrics you are looking for.
High view counts and click-through rates signal interest in your press release content. While low engagement numbers indicate the need to improve your content and hooks. Tools like PR Newswire and BusinessWire provide analytics on digital engagement with your press releases.
Monitor Website Traffic
Watch for spikes in website visitors around the publication of press releases. Include links to your website in press releases whenever possible. Use Google Analytics to track referral traffic and sources to see how much is coming from media coverage of your releases.
Higher website traffic proves that press releases are generating greater brand awareness.
Check Search Engine Rankings
Relevant media coverage and incoming links will improve your SEO and search rankings for priority keywords. Use ranking reports to track increases in search placement for your target keywords after a press release campaign. Higher rankings, especially on the first page of Google, indicate your press releases are having a positive impact.
Measure Increased Brand Awareness or Recall
Conduct surveys with your customers before and after press release distribution and monitor for increases in brand awareness, familiarity and favorability. Positive press coverage should translate into higher recognition. You can also simply ask new prospects and customers how they heard of your brand to evaluate recall.
Track Sales Activity and Leads
The most important metric is actual business impact – are your press releases generating more leads and sales? Set up UTM tracking codes and dedicated landing pages for call-to-actions in releases to measure direct lead conversion and ROI. Also, look for an overall lift in sales volumes after press release campaigns. Consider distributing releases around product launches or promotions to maximize results.
Analyze Social Media Shares and Mentions
Monitor hashtag use as well as organic social media discussion across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other networks. See how far your press release content travels, gets shared and inspires dialogue. More social buzz indicates greater reader interest and engagement. You can also promote releases yourself across social media to drive even higher amplification.
Tools like Sprout Social make this type of social listening much easier.
Evaluate Influencer and Expert Pickup
Check if industry experts, bloggers, influencers or thought leaders in your space are citing or mentioning data and info from your press releases. If credible experts are referencing your news, this signals you have created valuable and relevant content worth sharing. Influencer sharing extends the reach and longevity of your press releases.
Measure Backlinks and Referring Domains
Release distribution websites pass authority and generate backlinks pointing to your website. Use Google Search Console and Moz to quantify how many new links, click-throughs and referring domains your press releases are driving to improve SEO and domain authority.
Analyze Media and Public Sentiment
Perform buzz monitoring and social listening with tools like Meltwater to analyze the tone and sentiment of media coverage and public reactions to your press releases. Positive, upbeat coverage reflects well on your brand and messaging. But negative press attention or commentary requires closer PR damage control and response.
Review Competitor Coverage
Keep tabs on competitors in your space and analyze their press release campaigns, too. Compare their media coverage tone, volume and quality vs your own. If competitors are gaining more traction, assess what you can improve. Their news can also give ideas for your next releases.
Conduct an Annual PR Audit
On a regular basis, thoroughly audit metrics like media placements, website traffic, sales activity, social engagement and search rankings before and after press release distribution. Look for tangible correlations and ROI over the past year. Make data-driven decisions to continue or revise your PR and outreach approach.
Set Specific Goals
Have clear targets for each press release campaign, such as 20 media pickups, 500 social shares, 25% increase in site traffic or 5-10 new links. These benchmarks allow you to better evaluate success and track progress over time. Goals also force you to be more strategic in press release content and distribution.
Getting news coverage and communicating effectively with the media is critical for every brand. While press releases are just one PR tool, applying an analytics and metrics-focused approach can maximize their impact. Consistently measuring and optimizing your press releases will ultimately drive greater awareness, engagement, leads and sales. Pay close attention to what drives meaningful results vs fluff coverage that does not affect your business. With strategic release measurement, you can showcase PR and content success to your leadership team.