Nov 23, 2010

Press Release Measurement 101 – Behind the Numbers

Press release measurement - the summary page of PR Newswire's Visibility Reports

Not so long ago, as maybe a few of you might even remember, the ‘reporting’ possible for a given news release was sparse at best.  As recently as 1996, when I joined PR Newswire, there was basically only one type of reporting you could get for your release anywhere in the industry –   specifically Dow Jones or Reuters clips —and these were only available if the organization on whose behalf you were issuing news was publicly traded.   As we all know, such is the case no longer.  Instead, the press release reporting landscape has literally exploded with myriad reporting options for any piece of news.  Take your pick:  release postings, headline impressions, user interaction stats, search terms, social media shares, and  ‘access’ intelligence covering everything from IP address to browser type, to ‘network’ of viewer.  Just to name a few.

The last decade has truly been a journey of ‘rags’ to reporting ‘riches,’ yet, the new profusion of options has created its own conundrums, leaving many communicators slightly befuddled in terms of what they should be expecting by way of complimentary news release reporting.   What does one really need to know about the impact our news is having ‘out there’ in the world once we send it out?   To sift through the data, it’s helpful to understand the three evolutionary stages of news release reporting, each of which has left with it key reporting options you should minimally expect after sending your news release.

First, media interaction.

The first news releases sent through a commercial newswire were sent to media only.    Direct news delivery into newsrooms remains a key component of many communications strategies, especially for traded companies.  Customers who submit news via this channel should expect to see viewer information statistics from credentialed media for their news release.  The media reported as such in newswire reports should be vetted by the newswire, and the news outlet they represent should also be disclosed.

Next, online distribution.

The first real ‘revolution’ to occur in news release transmission arrived with the advent of direct-to-consumer online news delivery in the 1990s, and this delivery channel brought with it a huge array of measurable statistics for communicators.   What stats should you insist on?  The following are non-negotiable!

•          Release posting reports from 3rd party websites

•          Number of views of release on newswire site

•          Number of times the press release was printed

•          In-text link (and anchor text) click-throughs

•          Geographical display of online viewers

•          Referring domains

Nice -to-haves

•          Trend lines

•          Viewer numbers on 3rd party sites

•          Crawler or spider hit stats

Search

•          Top search terms

•          Top search engines

Multimedia

•          Online video views

•          File downloads

Finally, social interaction.

The latest revolution, occurring even as we speak across the communications spectrum, allows us to measure how users share our information online.   Here, the key things we need to know are:

•          On what social networks this news has been shared? (outbound)

•          Who has accessed this release via a social network (inbound)

•          Who has emailed the release, tweeted or blogged about it?

Beyond these essential spheres of intelligence, there are, as PR Newswire sees it, other must haves to give you perspective on your numbers.  These include index scores, which only PR Newswire provides.  These take the statistics accrued in each of the above areas, and compares them with those of other similar releases, letting you know how your release fared comparatively in each sphere.  Index scores give meaning to the wealth of numbers.

Overall, the paradigm shifts in newswire content dissemination have given us much to be thankful for in terms of the reporting possibilities they have opened for all of us as communicators. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Authored by Denise Perez, manager, release reporting & measurement, PR Newswire

PR Newswire offers robust reporting with all press release and multimedia content distribution services.  Current members can simply log onto the Online Member Center, or contact us if additional help or information is needed.

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