by Sandy Malloy, Senior Information Specialist, Business Wire
I understand the desire for benchmarks, but politely suggest that’s the wrong question. Better would be: “How well did this press release help me satisfy my goals in sending it out?”
You can’t measure without goal-setting–just as you can’t say whether your fitness program is successful if you don’t know whether your goal is to drop 20 pounds, bench press 250 or simply show up at the gym three times a week.
While our recent PR Peeps poll reflects what pr professionals say constitutes press release success, too may of them fail to set goals before asking the “how are we doing” question. A recent post by Todd Defren of PR Squared and many who commented on it, echoed this sentiment.
Starting with a goal in mind–whether it’s increasing brand awareness, generating traffic, scoring link clicks, or any other specific, measurable objective–provides context for the numbers you do gather. And articulating your press release objective allows for a more complete picture by supplementing press release metrics with other meaningful statistics (e.g., number of Likes on Facebook, sales leads generated, etc.)
Here are a few guidelines on setting measurable press release objectives:
1. Tie your goals to those of the organization, and identify what piece of the puzzle you represent. You might not be able to correlate a press release with increased sales, but you can set a goal of increasing sales leads and then measure traffic to a landing page on your website.
2. When you talk about the ROI of a press release you are measuring means, not ends. A press release, the means, is a strategy. Your objective is the end — what do you want people to do as the result of the release appearing?
3. In addition to your desired outcome, include your target audience. This phase of measurement will involve steps to take after the release goes out. If you want to measure brand awareness among the under-20-somethings who buy your video games, for instance, you might have to just track social media mentions; whereas setting up focus groups could be more appropriate if your target audience comprises pharmaceutical executives.
4. Set a time frame for achieving the objective.
The Institute for Public Relations is a good resource for more information on public relations measurement.