The value of press releases remains an ongoing controversial topic among public relations professionals. Some say press releases are an antiquated, ineffective technique. Others say press releases endure as a valuable public relations tactic. Most recently, Maggie Aland, staff writer for Fit Small Business, promotes press releases in a Bulldog Reporter article. She lists several benefits of news releases, such as increasing SEO value, earning respect and expanding your message’s reach.
Some PR pros, such as Christopher Penn at Shift Communications, maintain press releases garner little attention.
News releases do in fact produce positive placements when sent to the appropriate media outlets. They sometimes lead to full-blown staff-written articles that don’t mention a reporter got the idea from a news release.
The problem is that some organizations over-use news releases.
Focus on a Newsworthy Event
“The key to using press releases effectively is to focus them on newsworthy events. A press release is great for sharing timely, relevant news such as an event, a product release or a website launch,” Aland writes.
Sending releases only to publications and journalists covering your topic increases media interest. While that may call for extensive research, the work is worth the effort. A spreadsheet of media outlets, their contact information, and their requirements for image file formats and other submission preferences can improve your success rate.
Role of Media Measurement for News Releases
Media monitoring can resolve the question of the effectiveness of press releases. A media monitoring service can identify media outlets that publish your news or mention your company, product and other important keywords. Monitoring and measuring your mentions and keywords will help identify successful PR strategies and prove value of your media relations efforts.
“Thanks to better monitoring and tracking services, tracking the true ROI of a news release has never been easier,” writes Serena Ehrlich, Business Wire director of social and evolving media.
Ehrlich explains important metrics to examine when measuring the ROI or impact of news releases.
Coverage. Coverage, the first and oldest PR metric, refers to the amount of number of outlets that published your news. Coverage includes the reach of the media mentions in print, online and broadcast, location within the placement, length of article, multimedia assets used, and corporate or brand messages delivered.
Visibility. Visibility refers to how broadly the news was shared, who shared it and which audiences impacted the marketing funnel the most. Also consider influencer shares of the news, employee sharing and word-of-mouth marketing.
Inbound traffic. Simply add a unique URL Builder or extension to a URL within your press release. After viewers click the link, you can track their actions within your website. Keep in mind that not all media outlets will include hyperlinks to your website. Also consider increases in inbound website traffic during the news cycle.
Geo-Impact. In what geographic regions did the news resonate? “This data can be acted upon immediately by continuing the discussion with paid advertising or a concentrated sales effort, allowing sales teams to strike while the conversational iron is hot,” Ehrlich urges.
Owned channel registrations. Include links to join your other owned channels, including following social channels or registering for a newsletter. This enables interested parties to take the first step in creating a relationship with your organization.
Social shares. Examine the number of influencers who talk about your news and the number of overall news shares. Also consider the message adoption and associated hashtags usage.
Bottom Line: PR pros frequently debate the merits of press releases. Media monitoring and measurement can determine the effectiveness of press releases and overall PR campaigns — and help resolve that ongoing debate. These are metrics to consider when evaluating the effectiveness of your media relations.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.