Press releases—the most surprisingly beneficial sales tool in PR’s playbook

by | Nov 15, 2019 | Analysis, Public Relations

When ARPR embarked on gathering data for our inaugural tech marketing report, I thought I knew what we would find. Each month, I review dozens of tech public relations and integrated marketing reports. For years now, I’ve seen how impactful media coverage is on lead generation.

What I didn’t expect to find, however, was the full power of press releases

Sure, I know they have a key role in search engine optimization. And I know that they’re helpful in showing company momentum and providing broader context in media relations. But what I didn’t realize was just how frequently website traffic from press releases converted.

Believe it or not (and I didn’t at first), press releases account for 12 percent more website goal completions than other traffic sources and have a 59 percent longer average session duration.

What’s even more surprising?

Press releases outperformed editorial media coverage:

  • 37 percent higher time on site
  • 106 percent longer average session duration
  • 55 percent higher goal completion rate

That’s not to underplay how impactful the traffic from media coverage is. It too outperformed other web traffic sources (including paid ads), but press releases are converting even better.

Why do press releases outperform other traffic sources? I have a few theories.

By nature, press releases are more promotional than media coverage

The third-party credibility that editorial coverage provides is key to building trust among prospects and other stakeholders. However, releases can more directly convey a brand’s value proposition.

Releases often reach a narrower audience than editorial coverage. These right-fit targets have proven that they are more ready to take action and convert.

Press releases usually have a highly specific call to action

Unlike media coverage, which at best links to a company’s main website, press releases are on a defined subject and often link to a dedicated page. For example, a new product release would link to a page about that new product. A release about new industry data would like directly to that report. These relevant calls to action mean the releases people are reading relate directly to the landing page they visit, which increases the likelihood of conversion.

Traffic from press releases often originates from organic searchers

finding the release. Since organic search is another top converting channel, when people find a release via search, these two channels work together to drive leads. The fact that releases are indexed well in organic search also makes them evergreen. In fact, our research found that the majority of traffic from website wire releases comes more than a week after the release originally goes live, meaning the release can be found by searchers with high purchase intent for months and even years.

How can PR practitioners propel media coverage to convert as well as press releases?

Website traffic from media coverage already performs well compared to that of other sources, with a 56% higher goal completion rate. However, PR pros can take some cues from the even better performance of press releases to optimize earned media coverage even further.

Here’s how:

Create a dedicated page on your website that matches the topic you are pitching media

Coverage that links to more relevant pages versus simply a home page increases the chance of conversion. This page should include a natural, top-of-funnel next step for visitors—such as downloading a playbook or subscribing to a blog. Visitors from media coverage may not be ready to buy yet, but with the right content and nurture strategy, you can help them understand how you help solve their problems.

Optimize your media coverage for SEO

Of course, you don’t control what’s written about your brand by reporters, but you can help to shape the discussion by ensuring your SEO strategy is baked into your journalist outreach tactics. Use the same keywords and phrases that buyers do in pitches, interviews and bylined articles.

That will help to increase the chances that your prospects find your media coverage, and therefore your brand. And since organic search referrals are among the highest converting web traffic, this increases your odds of driving website conversions.

Press releases are certainly not dead, but even I was surprised to uncover just how alive and well they are. By taking cues from these releases, PR pros can learn how to optimize all of their media outreach for sales conversions.

Renee Spurlin
As SVP of digital marketing and analytics and ARPR’s resident data geek, Renee bridges the gap between traditional PR and lead generation.


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