Email is number one for referrals

I was reviewing the stats relating to my last post about the performance of Social Media Releases earlier today. Apart from being very pleasantly surprised to have nearly reached 1000 unique views (making this easily my most visited post to date!) I also found that the number one source of traffic was “direct”.

This means traffic that has been referred to the urls directly and not from another online source. Now unless anyone is able to remember a url with 141 characters, which I am guessing is unlikely, then I assume all of these visits must have come from people visiting the post from emails that include a hyperlink.

The breakdown of unique visits and their sources is as follows:


Direct/mail 481 49%
Twitter 284 29%
Blogs 83 8%
Search 68 7%
Facebook 42 4%
Other 23 2%
981 100%

Twitter also counts for almost a third of the visits, which isn’t surprising given that the post has been tweeted 128 times to date (thank you to everyone who RT’d).

But the fact that almost half of all visits were direct demonstrates the power that email still has as a tool for sharing information with your community. Glad we didn’t forget to mention it in our video (2:25) on how news spreads online :-)

Social Media News Releases achieve double the coverage of Traditional Press Releases


RealWire has been offering the Social Media News Release (SMNR) option to our clients for nearly two years now. In that time we have hosted and distributed over 200 SMNRs on behalf of a varied group of organisations including:

3i, Adobe, British Army, Cisco, Comic Relief, Cross Country Trains, Diageo, Durex, First Direct, Ford, HSBC, ITV, Macmillan Cancer Support, Nescafe, NSPCC, Peugeot, Sage, Skoda, Sony Ericsson, Symantec, Talk Talk, Toshiba, Twestival, Vauxhall and Volkswagen. Some are in a narrative style, some follow the original deconstructed format.

Our video about the SMNR (from our webitpr days) has had over 12,000 views and we are currently ranked top of for a search for “social media news release”. Even ahead of Mr Social Media Release himself, Todd Defren. (Of course we don’t manage to repeat the trick on, but the video doesn’t do badly :-) )

So it is on this basis we feel fairly well qualified to provide some analysis on whether Social Media News Releases actually achieve better results than “traditional” press releases.


We analysed 997 releases distributed by RealWire during the period December 2008 to May 2009 for which coverage tracking statistics had been gathered by our Proveit release evaluation service.

Of these 71 releases were Social Media News Releases.

The results are summarised below:

Total coverage includes coverage that is the republishing of the release in its entirety either by selective or non selective publishers.

It is worth noting that all of these results for both SMNRs and traditional releases compare favourably with analysis of competing distribution services suggesting that the combination of our clients, their releases and RealWire’s approach performs strongly for all types of release.

However the results above suggest that Social Media News Releases perform substantially better than traditional releases when it comes to generating editorial and blog coverage with, on average, all of the additional coverage being of this type.

So a big tick in the box for SMNRs then? All we have to do is produce all releases in this format and we will all achieve two or three times as much coverage?

Well not so fast. A simple regression analysis on the data suggests that a release just being an SMNR, as opposed to a traditional release, in itself only explains a small proportion of the variation in the performance of individual releases.

So the majority of the variation would seem to be due to other factors. There are any number of factors that could explain some degree of variation – the hook of the title, timing, number of interested parties etc. Significantly more detailed work would be needed to prove the impact of each.

But I would suggest that the most likely reason for the improvement in performance of SMNRs is that the additional investment needed to produce a SMNR means that clients are more likely to use them for the most interesting stories. It is this investment in quality that then pays dividends with the features of the SMNR allowing the user to enhance that storytelling and so produce the improved results.


Less stories. More creatively told. To the right people.

The first point may seem like a strange thing for a press release distribution company to say – “less stories”, doesn’t that mean less business? As I said earlier, the results of our own distribution actually indicate that releases we distribute for our clients are already of a relatively higher quality and/or are directed to more relevant people and hence our pickup stats compare very favourably to competing services.

However the analysis implies that the discipline of investing more in the telling of a story through a Social Media Release seems to lead senders to focus on the stories that generate the most interest editorially and from bloggers. Surely that is a good thing for all parties?

When 54% of press releases from the big wires apparently never get written about, wouldn’t focussing more on the half that are of interest be a better use of the PR industry’s resources?

Does your Brand past the touch test?

I was talking to someone the other day about the concept of brand. He is near the beginning of his career in a technology business and I was trying to explain how a brand is the promise of performance and is about so much more than just a name or a logo.

This meant that the work that he would do on a business’s systems, though nothing in this case to do with their identity or communications, would still play a part in establishing that brand through the experiences people would have.

To help him visualise the concept I asked him what he thought of when he heard the name “Volkswagen“. He said all the things you would think – reliable, solid, well engineered etc. I then asked him what would be the first thing he would do if he sat in a VW car in a showroom. His answer was “I would touch the dashboard plastics to get the reassurance that the build quality was what I expected”. In other words how did the plastics feel.

But if the plastics didn’t pass this “touch test” would this effect his perception of the car and VW? Absolutely he replied. Enough to potentially leave the showroom? Absolutely.

So here is an intelligent, logical and technical individual saying that his perception of the VW brand would be materially effected by whether a piece of plastic that cost a few pounds was of sufficient quality to pass his “touch test” expectations.

A reminder that a brand is made up of a huge collection of, often, small experiences, all of which have to add up to that promise of performance and pass our own “touch tests” everyday.

Does your brand pass the touch test?