There are numerous reasons and benefits for companies, large and small, to send out press releases. Some example announcements include:

  • A new executive joining the team
  • A new product or service offering
  • Establishing a new location and company growth
  • Establishing new partnerships
  • Corporate restructuring
  • You name it…

Context for Measuring Press Releases

Often, our customers ask how to measure the effectiveness of press releases. While reputable press release platforms offer their own metrics and data, PR professionals, marketers and executives can still be confused on what to measure and what these press release metrics mean.

For example, if my press release had 55,679 impressions is that good or bad? Or if I got 38 reads, should I celebrate or start to look for another job!

One of the main issues, in my humble opinion, is the lack of context, and – yes – lack of segmentation. Hence this post.

If you are not familiar with standard press release metrics to look for, here’s what people typically look for when they send out a press release:

  • Reach and what headline impressions they get
  • If people are clicking on those headlines and reading
  • If readers are interacting with the press release (clicking on a page to get to your landing page, download an image, pdf, etc.)

Check out this link for more definitions of metrics provided by PR Web.

My goal of this post is not to re-iterate what tens of articles already described on press release metrics, or how to measure awareness and branding – a quick search on google will give you more than you need.

What I want to share with you is a new approach – to use the metrics surrounding the date of release, its impact and make it easier to find actionable insights, inspiring ideas for to increase your audience reach (I can make it sound fancier and say “framework” but I’ll skip that for now :)).

Let’s get started!

1- Make it Visually Appealing and Trend

First of all, extract your press release data out of your PR platform (csv file) and import it in Excel and trend it. We use Tableau a lot for data visualization, and with few easy steps, you’ll have a much better story to tell! The following view includes data on five press releases. Take a look, insights are are ready for you to garner!

Quickly you can see that your release about the EMEA expansion didn’t do well at all in terms of impressions and reach, however, people must have liked the video or the pdf you included in that press release (look at the relative huge number of interactions).


2- It’s Not News After the First Few Days, or Maybe It Is

Most buzz around press releases dies off after the first few days. But sometime you might be interested in finding releases that keep on giving. One approach is to plot your 7-day metrics vs. your all-time metrics. Picking up the data in Tableau and with a little bit of dual-axis formatting gives us this view:

Notice how the first three press release hardly had any impressions after the first 7 days, whereas the Q2 Earnings and Product Announcement releases have picked up a few thousand impressions since the initial announcement. Dig deeper into the referring sources to find out who is linking back to you and is still talking about your cool product. Cater to this audience by creating similar content in the future or potentially advertise on those referring sites.

3- Press Release Engagement Metrics

Let’s tell a better story and add more context to our reporting and analysis. Awesomeness can be attained by blending in data from the PR platform and your site analytics data.

In the graph below, you see how we pulled in the Media Deliveries metrics (number of media outlets that received your press release) as well as site visits corresponding to the respective press release.

Not only that, if you have your engagement/outcome measurement in order, you can measure “conversions” as they relate to traffic from press releases. Granted, press releases are not a “direct response” type of channel, but for specific press releases you might be interested in measuring what users are doing on your site. Note in the graph that the Product Announcement Press release received close to 150 site conversions (in this case a product demo video views on the site).

Putting in all together in one dashboard

Can’t really end the post without mentioning the word “dashboard” :), so here it is! You combine the three Tableau workbooks/reports we discussed above and you get this beauty!

And as we commented next to each graph, you make sure you do the same for your dashboard. Don’t be lazy, before you send the dashboard off to your executives, do your homework and include findings, insights and recommendations.

Additional Press Release Tracking Tips:

  • Real Time: Google Analytics real time reports are amazing. You can view site activity (incoming traffic, top pages, events, etc.) as it happens. For example, you can monitor real time if you have some hot announcement that is likely to go viral.
  • Google Alerts: you can also set alerts on your company name or a specific keyword related to the press release announcements. If Google is sending a press release about Q3 earnings, you can set your alert on “Google Q3 earnings”.
  • Referring Traffic: you can report on your referring traffic in Google Analytics and filter on traffic from media outlets to get a sense of what traffic is generated from these outlets. For the analysis ninjas out there, check out our post on advanced techniques to capture the source of the press release traffic.
  • Social Media: in addition to the above, leverage your social media listening platform to report on social mentions related to the press release. Make sure you participate in the conversation and address your audience’s questions and concerns.
  • Segment the press release metrics by geo-location or destination: this will allow you to track and trend Reads by tier-1 media outlets
  • Tableau and Google Analytics: From within Tableau,  the Google Analytics connector is at your service. Select the dimensions and metrics you want and pull them into Tableau automatically. No more csv files and no more export and upload, just connect and play!

Other tips you have for assessing the performance of your press releases? Please share in the comments section below.