One of my subscribers wants to know what an average response rate should be for a publicity campaign. For example, for every hundred press releases sent out, how many interviews should you expect?

For years I’ve been on a campaign to eliminate the whole concept of ‘response rate’. I don’t feel it’s ever been valid or had much value. Let me give you a couple of examples.

In both marketing and publicity, many people judge success by response rate – what percentage of people responded to your mailing, faxing, etc. If you send out 100 letters or press releases and 6 people respond, that’s a 6% response rate.

This is a totally invalid and misleading way to measure success. The only true measure of success is dollars in the bank. Let me give you a few examples.

If you fax out 100 press releases, at a cost of $10, and every single release results in an interview. Your response rate is an incredible 100%. I don’t think you could get a 100% response if you announced you were going to give away $50 bills. But, this is just an example.

You do 100 interviews, averaging half an hour each – 50 hours. As a result of your interviews you make no sales, get no prospects. A flat out zero. But you got a 100% response rate!

Now let’s say you sent out 10,000 press releases, at a cost of $1,000, and you only get one interview. That’s a dismal 0.01% response rate. You do one interview lasting half an hour. As a result of that interview, you make $7,000 in sales.

Has the light bulb gone on? Do you see how response rate is a totally bogus measure of success?

The goal of your publicity campaign is to put dollars in the bank, not just to do interviews.

Be Sociable, Share!
  1. Darren Says:

    I get your point but not sure why you’d use an example of such extremes. Getting 100% response rate, and 100 interviews would obviously not lead to 0 sales. If the point is that publicity (free or paid) doesn’t guarantee signups, ok. But there has always been a correlation between publicity and sales and your example doesn’t support this truth.

    Response rate is different, and I think what your readers should take away is that the quality of response trumps the rate of response.

    I agree that response rate is not the only metric of success, and that dollars in the bank trumps interviews at the end the day. Don’t get caught up in the rate, because the quality/angle/reach of interviews/press is always different.

  2. Paul Hartunian Says:

    Why do you say that doing 100 interviews could not lead to zero sales? I’ve spoken with many people who experienced just that. They had no idea how to do an interview, how to properly promote a product or service, etc. and wound up wasting their time doing interviews but getting no sales.

    You mention a correlation between publicity and sales – exactly what, in your eyes, is the correlation? Are you saying that publicity will always result in sales? If so, that’s simply not true. If you know how to correctly get and use publicity, sales are far more likely than if you simply try to dash out a press release, get it distributed and try to do interviews, knowing nothing about how the whole publicity world actually works.

    Publicity is like anything else. If you know what you’re doing, you do it well and you follow the rules, customs and standards, your chances of success are very good. I’m certainly living proof of that.

    But if you don’t know what you’re doing, simply read anecdotes on how to get publicity from various online chat boards, discussions groups, random websites claiming to know about publicity, etc., you’re more likely to crash and burn. The unfortunate result of this second scenario is that these people will then often bad-mouth publicity, claiming that it doesn’t work, that it’s only for insiders, etc., when nothing is farther from the truth.

    Thanks for your posting.

Leave a Reply