The respondents' top goals for online press releases indicated that the traditional goals of increasing an organization's visibility and credibility and announcing news are now almost equally as important as new goals that include reaching customers directly, creating online content, and search engine optimization (SEO).
Goals For Online Press Releases (% of respondents)
Mean Score (5=very important)
Increased visibility & credibility
Creating Online content readily available
SEO optimization for website
Conduit to other Online sources of information
Using as sales tool
Enhancing thought leadership
Source: Society for New Communications Research/Vocus, October 2008
While PR professionals placed more importance on traditional goals such as announcing news and enhancing thought leadership, marketing professionals reported SEO and reaching consumers as important goals for their online press releases. Small business owners were concerned with using the release as a sales tool and reaching customers directly.
Both traditional media and new media emerged as the top two most important audiences respondents hoped to reach with their online press releases. Bloggers and new media followed traditional media in importance, but were a very close second, separated by only 0.28 points on a 1-5 scale.
Audiences For Online Press Releases
Importance Mean (5=Very Important)
Bloggers and new media outlets
B2B consumers/customers & prospects
B2C consumers/customers & prospects
Webmasters to repurpose
MSAs - geographical targets
Financial analysts & investment community
Source: Source: Society for New Communications Research/Vocus, October 2008
In terms of target audiences for online press releases, significant differences emerged between marketing and public relations professionals. Although both marketing and public relations professionals reported more than average importance for reaching traditional media, consumers, and webmasters that will repurpose the release, PR professionals were consistently more interested than marketing professionals in reaching traditional media.
Marketing professionals were consistently more interested than PR practitioners in reaching new media or consumers directly. For example:
These results indicate that online press releases have been adopted as a communications tool by the marketing profession, says the report, but are being used very differently than they have traditionally been used by public relations professionals.
The most frequently mentioned criterion for evaluating the success of online press releases was:
Interestingly, although marketing and public relations professionals seem to use online press releases differently, there were no statistically significant differences between the two in terms of the criteria they use for evaluating success. In fact, the evaluation criteria were homogenous across different size organizations and industry sectors as well. The only statistically significant difference identified young communication practitioners (under 30 years of age) as more interested than the other age groups in obtaining coverage on blogs and social media sites.
Open-ended responses to a different survey question indicate that higher level indicators such as "eyeballs" and "dollar value" are desired evaluation criteria of online press releases, but communication professionals do not know how to measure them, concludes the study.
Very few respondents indicated using social media release formats (26.3 percent) and even fewer reported adding video (12.8 percent) or audio (9 percent) enhancements. Of all multimedia elements, photos were the most popular, used in online press releases by 49.5 percent of respondents. Even more puzzling is that less than half of respondents (48.8 percent) link to their own press releases after they have been posted online.
The most frequently mentioned challenges of online press releases, grouped into categories according to the main themes, were:
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