Our publicity campaign success rate

We’ve completed an analysis of the success rate of our publicity campaigns over the last 12 months.

Metric Result
Delivered %
(delivered to target contact)
Read %
(confirmed read by target contact)
Target Outlet Conversion %
(coverage achieved in target outlet)
Campaign Conversion %
(coverage achieved for campaign)

Delivered. Every press release has reached the chosen media contact. We research our contacts carefully for each campaign and keep our database up to date – it’s part of our cost base, and because of it we expect a 100 per cent delivery rate.

Read Delivering a press release to the correct email address is a good start, but only the start. In practice, it’s another matter altogether for the press release to be read and understood. For our targeted lists, we pay a lot of attention to making sure the release gets to the right person. Sometimes the person who receives the release – despite our research – isn’t the best person (or is away). In these cases, we find during our follow-up that the person we talk to can advise us of the correct person. This year, 100 per cent of our press releases were read by an appropriate person. We can measure this because we personally follow up every contact by phone and email.

Target Outlet Conversion. When we run a campaign, we help the client identify the specific media outlets where coverage is sought. We send press releases to the list and follow up. If editorial coverage follows, we consider that a conversion.

We measure results from two separate lists – our primary target list (i.e. usually around eight carefully chosen contacts) and then a short supplementary list. The supplementary list includes those media outlets considered, but that don’t make the short list. As we always have an email address, we send the release to the supplementary email addresses anyway, but do not follow up personally.

The majority of editorials and broadcasts (25%) resulted from the targeted lists, but some (7%) also came from the supplementary lists. We have found that a targeted contact was almost two and a half times as likely to run a story than a contact on the supplementary list. I’ll repeat that, as it is important: a personal follow-up increases editorial coverage conversion rates by approximately 250%. As the supplementary list comes from quite a selective set of outlets already, the impact of follow-up – when compared to a non-targeted bulk email list – is likely to be a lot higher.

The benefit of personal follow-up is to be expected for two reasons:

  1. Relevance: The targeted lists focus on the media we believe are most likely to run the story.
  2. Attention: We follow up all contacts on the targeted list. A personal call helps increase the chance that the potential story angle has at least been considered.

Campaign Conversion. A campaign consists of a press release being delivered to a primary and supplementary list of contacts at the target media outlets. We assess a campaign as having converted if we get editorial coverage from at least one of the target media outlets. During the financial year, 83 per cent of our campaigns resulted in media coverage.

Our median result is two editorial placements or broadcasts per campaign; almost half (44%) of our campaigns achieved this. I would love to know how that stacks up from an industry perspective, but I’m not aware of many PR agencies or publicists who make these kinds of metrics available.

We did have campaigns with no coverage – 17% to be precise. I will write that again … no coverage. Ouch, that really hurts when it happens. Try as we do, editorial coverage in premium media (and this is very distinct from advertorial) can never be guaranteed. The unpredictable nature of the media means anything can happen at any time. For example, we had a great editorial story (pictorial and all) pulled at the very last minute because of a text message sent by Shane Warne.

We do look at each campaign that is struggling to get traction and try to identify the cause. The strength of the angle is critical, and (given the the vagaries of our free press) is the number one way we can influence outcomes. We plan angles carefully up front, doing what we can to try identify angles that have relevance for the audience of the target outlet. On a number of occasions we have discussed potential story angles with a prospective client, only to recommend they not proceed; if the angle doesn’t have a reasonable prospect of success with the chosen media outlets, then it’s not in anyone’s interests to run a campaign.

While we did have campaigns with zero coverage, we also had outstanding successes. Our best campaign achieved no less than nine editorial placements, gaining coverage in 35 per cent of the target outlets.

A key advantage for this story was the perceived lack of commercial content. Some publications and channels will baulk at running a story that they view as promotional (and on a few occasions even try and create an opportunity for their advertising department). But they will happily promote a non-profit venture, even if the ultimate result is profit for someone. It’s all part of the equation.

We will continue to measure the results of our publicity campaigns, and keep you updated.

One Response to “Our publicity campaign success rate”

  1. […] distribute releases to a carefully targeted list of media contacts, and our results speak for themselves. Even so, it’s worth being opportunistic with your […]

Comments are closed.