Wednesday, September 26, 2007

When is a link not a link?

A big question these days is about press release-pick up.

There are lots of spam sites that pick up parts of press releases in the hopes that web surfers (do people still use that term) who land on the page may decide to click onto one of the ads on the side of the page. If even is a small percentage of people landing on the page click on an ad, the site pays for itself.

But from a client and agency perspective, these sites are meaningless. I've discussed this before, but those sites draw random people, not potential customers for our B2B clients.

On the other hand, there are media sites that regularly pick up press releases. Media sites that range from smaller TV stations around the country to publications like Forbes. Recently, we distributed two press releases over PR Newswire for the same client; the report we got back included pickup on the Forbes site. The client was thrilled, as we've seen with other clients.

But we decided to investigate further. Going to the site, we entered the client's name in the search box....

The result: nothing.

No link to the client's press release, even though we had a URL that showed the release. In other words, the pick-up existed outside's search engine, and could be located only by clicking on the link provided by PR Newswire.

We are now advising clients not to get too impressed by the pickup of the release. Not to pick on PR Newswire or, I'd bet the same is true for BusinessWire, too.

One measure of a successful press release is the number of stories generated by them. But these days of smaller editorial staffs, just getting a press release picked up on relevant, meaningful, non-spam sites can be a measure of success.

Unfortunately, that doesn't mean the press release has real impact.

Bottom-line: The industry needs a better way to measure the impact of a press release.

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