12 ways to measure press release success
When it comes to getting attention, a press release is still an effective method of spreading your news. For a life sciences-related audience, press releases are especially important. A good press release establishes your organisation’s authority on a topic, builds rapport with the news media, amps up your online presence, and shares your news story with life science professionals across the planet.
For these reasons, many life science companies use press releases as part of their marketing and communications activities. But how will you know if each press release is a success?
How to measure press release success
To determine whether your press release is having the impact you’re seeking, we recommend applying a variety of metrics to provide a solid picture of its performance. Below, we cover 12 common ways of measuring the impact of a press release.
1. Media pickups
Measuring the number, quality, spread, and reach of your media pickups is a good place to start. These occur whenever news media outlets write about something included in your press release. In your tracking, include both online and print pickups and the number of indexed pickups. The more, the better.
Beyond the sheer quantity of your media pickups, the quality can be more challenging to define. One way to effectively gauge media pickup quality is to make a list of the 10 top-tier publications where you’d most want to be featured, then track how many of them pick up your story. Additional measures of quality include looking at domain authority, subscriber size, and subscriber relevance to the topic at hand.
It’s also important to look at the spread of your media pickups to determine which niches you’re reaching, like business media, trade media, geographically-focused media, and so forth.
Another way to measure your reach is to use metrics like “opportunities to see” and “advertising value equivalency”. However, in today’s digital world, many of these metrics are considered too simplistic to provide a reliable readout of press release distribution (and your wider media relations activities).
2. Follow-up stories
It’s one thing to have the media pick up and publish your press release “as is”, but it’s even better if they want to take it a step further and publish a follow-up story, as this usually leads to a more detailed piece, more “column inches” and a higher priority position (in both the print and online versions of the publication).
In general, an editor or journalist will get in touch with you for more information and/or an interview with a company spokesperson, so that they can develop a more in-depth piece. However, in some cases, they may use the press release as a springboard to request that your company writes and submits a contributed article.
In general, any inquiry counts towards positive performance of your press release, even if the news outlet ultimately fails to publish a follow-up piece. News organisations sometimes fail to run certain stories due to superseding breaking news. Nevertheless, you still have the opportunity to stay connected with a reporter or editor and maintain their interest in your topic.
3. Social mentions and sentiment
Another key aspect of press release success is how your topic is trending on social media. Is your company name popping up in social media mentions? Was someone from your organisation named as a thought leader or expert on the topic?
Take note of the tone used to describe your news on the social media channel. Was the sentiment positive, negative, or neutral? Look at comments from the public, not just the original post content.
4. Media e-newsletter mentions
Many types of media outlets produce digital newsletters that update their viewing audience on trending topics. Sign up for as many of these newsletters as possible for the publications you’d like to feature in, as this makes it easier to track what stories they publish and promote. Take note of any mentions you receive in these e-newsletters.
5. News aggregator inclusions
Modern news goes far beyond newspapers, radio, and TV. In addition to social media, today’s news viewers typically encounter news stories through a variety of digital aggregators and search engines.
Count how many times you’ve been featured on the world’s top news aggregators, especially those that are targeted at the life sciences. Include Google News, Bing News, Apple News, Yahoo News, TechMeme, eScience News, Panda, MetaCritic, Flipboard, News360, Feedly, NewsNow, SmartNews, Pocket, and any others that are relevant to your area of expertise.
6. Link clicks
If you add links to your press release (and in most cases you should do), measure the number of clicks your links receive.
Make tracking easier by using unique URLs containing tracking information. One of the most commonly-used URL shorteners is bit.ly, which automatically tracks your links and gives you instantly viewable statistics.
7. Site visits
Whenever you send out a press release, you can usually expect a spike in web traffic, so be sure to keep an eye on your website stats. That being said, this is a very indirect measure of press release success and is far from an exact science, so don’t be too disheartened if you don’t see much extra web traffic around the publication of your press release.
To help you gauge what normal looks like for you, we recommend keeping a note of web traffic spikes around each press release you send. That way, you can get a feel for what a “good” increase in web traffic is, as well as start to analyse what types of news items draw the most traffic to your site.
8. Referral traffic
Site referrals are a subset of your overall web traffic and are the people who come directly to your site from other sites without using an intermediary like Google (although Google also tracks referrals and referral sources.)
To track this metric yourself, look for an increase in referral traffic from specific outside sites to your site according to the topic of your press release. This can help you to ascertain which sites have featured your news, as well as which outlets help drive the most traffic to your site when they publish a story about you.
Related to referral traffic is the number of backlinks that sites include in their story about your company that take people back to your website. In some ways, this metric is related to referral traffic, site visits and link clicks. However, the reason that we have specifically highlighted backlinks is their value as part of your search engine optimisation (SEO) efforts. Track the number, quality, and sources of your backlinks over time (and try to connect them directly to your press release efforts, where possible).
10. Social followers
Increasing the number of social media followers is a goal for many companies and press release distribution can help by raising overall awareness of your brand. Therefore, we recommend tracking social followers (even though this metric is influenced by a lot of factors, not just your press release activity).
Around the time and shortly after sending your press release, look for an increase in the number of your social followers, especially among key members of your viewing audience. A rise in sheer numbers is always a good thing, but a rise in social media connections among people who work in the life sciences, life science journalism, or the media would be even better.
A social media audit can help you dig even deeper into this information if needed. Look closely at the profiles of your newest followers and determine whether people seem to be following you for work or personal reasons. Are they interested in your products as a member of the public? Or did they take a professional interest in your life sciences company?
11. Email subscribers
Take a look at how many email subscribers you had before and after your press release. Has it gone up? Email marketing remains one of the most effective methods of staying in contact for business and academic purposes, with 83% of global consumers calling it their preferred method of contact with companies.
12. Inbound phone calls
Good old-fashioned phone calls are still an excellent way to gauge interest in your organisation. Start with the date and time of your press release, then check phone logs to see if you had an increase in inbound sales calls.
Measuring the wider impact of your public relations activities
In addition to the points discussed above, press release distributions can have a broader impact on your brand, public image, and online reputation as part of a wider public relations strategy.
A good press release shouldn’t exist in a void and is just a small sliver of your overall media engagement plan. It can take months or years to build a robust public relations strategy that reliably delivers the kind of impact you’re seeking.
Your long-term campaign may involve a stream of press releases plus other strategies such as:
- Contributed articles
- Media interviews
- Roundtable discussions
- Speaking engagements at shows and conferences
- Event-related placements and appearances
- Keynote speeches
As you expand your influence, implement additional measures of success that capture the breadth of your public relations impact. You may need to add audience surveys, brand awareness surveys, and other types of in-depth research to reveal how your brand is faring in the life sciences field.
Audience surveys, which generally involve aided and unaided brand awareness surveys, can help you gauge whether people accurately understand what your organisation does. You can also uncover whether people know which products you offer, which benefits you deliver, which markets you serve, and how you stack up against your competition.
Share of voice studies are especially important when you’re thinking competitively. These studies show how your mentions in the traditional news media and social media compare to your top competitors. This provides a better view of how big your “slice of the attention pie” is in the markets you play in.
Sentiment analysis could also reveal fascinating information about how the market views your organisation. You can learn whether people regard you positively, how your mentions are changing over time, and whether your reputation is becoming more positive as your PR campaign unfolds.
How to quickly and cost-effectively gain more attention for your news
Press releases are a cost-effective, time-efficient way of getting your news out into the media and are a must-have of any public relations campaign for a company working in the life sciences. Today’s press releases effectively connect your brand to the digital world and spread the word of your news stories.
Now that you know why press releases are important and how to track their success, the next step is writing and distributing an effective press release. The quality, timing, and distribution of your press release determine its success.
You don’t have to handle this tricky public relations process alone. Consider using a specialist newswire distribution service that has already developed close connections with the most important life science media outlets across the globe.
At Life Science Newswire, we’ll help ensure the media pays attention to your news item. Don't just take our word for it, we recently helped one of our customers, Inspirata, distribute their very first press release for the launch of their new collaboration and joint solutions.
According to the Inspirata team: “We were really happy with the professionality, ease of use, and results obtained thanks to Life Science Newswire. It was the first time for our company to send out a press release, and they guided us during the process, come back very fast with useful feedback, and gave us a very insightful and comprehensive report at the end.”
Give us a try for your next press release distribution. It’s just £500 per send and our services are always pay-as-you-go, with no long-term contracts or fees.