How reputable are PR monitoring reports?

Most new customers ask if we also provide a PR monitoring report following a press release distribution. Such PR monitoring reports are provided by big wire services and include a list of dozens sometimes hundreds of links depending on the chosen geographic reach.  Besides, they provide metrics on how many media outlets have picked up the news.

Anyone who uses such monitoring reports should closely look at these numbers and evaluate their significance.

One of the PR monitoring reports a client has shared with me (thanks a lot!) claims a total media pickup of 194 and a total potential audience of 79M. These are striking numbers made to convince - on the surface.

However, when you look at the total media pickup over time you see that nearly all media outlets (188) published the news within the first couple of hours.

This is remarkable because the press release had been distributed at 12:00pm GMT, a time when the workday in the United States has not yet started.  But 90% of the media pickup was from US media outlets. Do the editors in the US work round-the-clock?

Rather unlikely. The media pickup was the result of a process called syndication which is an automatic posting mechanism. We assume that only very few (human) editors have taken part in the posting of the news because when you look at the graph ‘pickup over time’ which was also included in the monitoring report, you see a different picture: Only three media outlets have published the news after 24h, two media outlets after 48h and one media outlet after 10 days. In view of these numbers the significance of a total media pickup of 194 and a total potential audience of 79M are questionable.

Therefore, the metrics in the PR monitoring reports that you receive with the big wire services are most probably just vanity metrics intended to keep you happy.

If you want to reach the biopharmaceutical audience, the best is to send the press release to the editors of the trade media. B3C newswire is a specialized PR distribution service for biotech and pharma companies focusing on earned media, that’s how it is called when human (!) editors are involved. These editors are not our assistants (or vicarious agents) and therefore they are not bound to publish our news. But if they do publish the news they act as multipliers and give you third-party credibility.

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