I’m definitely a fan of Muck Rack – it offers an easy way to track major media journalists on Twitter and pick up on trending topics. So I’ve been curious to see how their Twitter press release service would do.
Muck Rack charges $1 per character to send out a 140 character press release, with a minimum fee of $50. Releases are posted on their press release page (and in its RSS feed) and tweeted via @muckrack, which currently has 5k+ followers.
Based on their press release page and RSS feed, since the service launched in late July they’ve distributed 51 press releases, a small number being their own. That’s an average of about 4 press releases per week, so there’s not a lot of volume yet.
Of those 51 releases, 28 included a bit.ly URL, so I tried using bit.ly search to get click data on each of those shortened URLs. My intent was to show the average number of clicks for bit.ly URLs in Muck Rack releases. Unfortunately I discovered that the “total clicks” figures bit.ly reports from its search page are not very complete or accurate (you get better data on URLs you’ve personally shortened in your history when signed into bit.ly). So I wasn’t able to learn anything meaningful there.
bit.ly search did have data on the URL in the most recent Muck Rack press release, reporting 65 clicks:
That doesn’t measure up to the hundreds or thousands of clicks that popular content often gets via Twitter, but press releases are in a different category. It’s less important how many people click and much more important who is clicking and what they are doing with the information. If you look at @muckrack’s followers there’s a mix of media and non-media professionals, so there’s certainly an opportunity for the press releases to get some exposure.
To see how Muck Rack stacks up against the competition I checked the volume of activity on some other Twitter press release services, but there aren’t a lot of apples-to-apples comparisons to be made. Much of what’s out there is established press release services that now send out releases via Twitter in addition to their main distribution methods, or services like Brian Solis’ microPR that connect PR and media professionals without the use of press releases.
Probably the closest competitor is Journalism.co.uk in the UK, which charges £30 to distribute a release through Twitter and RSS. As of today their @pressreleases Twitter account has 6,600 followers, a bit more than Muck Rack’s 5,050. Their Latest Press Releases page shows their most recent 50 releases, the oldest being from October 7th. So in less than a month they’ve distributed as many releases as Muck Rack has done in its first three months.
Of course the larger question is whether or not companies will use third-party services to distribute press releases via Twitter when they can do so for free on their own. The answer lies in how much additional value the services can provide in terms of exposure and activity.
In addition to hearing from Chris Evans-Roberts of Journalism.co.uk in the comments below, today I corresponded with Greg Galant, CEO of Sawhorse Media, the company behind Muck Rack. Greg noted that they encourage users to use bit.ly so that the metrics will be open and verified by a third party. He also agreed with the notion that it’s important who sees a press release, not how many people, and that they are focused on making the service more useful for journalists to increase its value.
Chris Evans-Roberts says
Hi, this is Chris from Journalism.co.uk, I look after the press release distribution service that we run.
Good post that brings up some interesting points. I think the real emphasis for us is empowering the journalists in the whole process. If you distribute press releases through a variety of communication channels journalists have the option of selecting which ones are most suitable for them and this should result in more engagement from them (which is the whole point after all). As Twitter is so popular with the journalism community it seems a natural choice.
Given the rapid advancement of online communication we should be moving away from mass distribution systems like email lists and towards smaller, far more targeted distribution. Muck Rack and MicroPR are good examples of people using some creative thinking to get the right information to the right people using the online tools available. As you say, you are unlikely to get huge quantities of clicks from Twitter for press releases but the people clicking through have made an active choice to receive the tweets so are more likely to engage with the content when they click through.
Adam Sherk says
Thanks for your thoughts Chris, I agree that offering multiple channels and letting journalists pick the one(s) they prefer is the best approach.