Press releases can be tricky animals to track since they get distributed all across the web to various content providers and you really have minimal control over the site to which it is posted.  Since it’s simple HTML, you can’t embed any JavaScript, which makes the fully featured s_code and/or SiteCatalyst plugins unavailable.

However, even with these limitations it’s possible to track not only how many people viewed an article, but you can even see the web addresses from which people were reading the article.

The key to success is embedding a simple “hard-coded” SiteCatalyst image request in the press release that looks something like this:

<img src=”“/>

Here’s what each of these parameters mean:

  • The “v1″ and “v2″ parameters represent eVars 1 & 2, which in this example are used to store the title and ID of the press release.  In fact, any eVar can be used, however it should be noted that light server calls can only track eVars, not props. If it’s necessary to use props, use “c1″ and “c2″ instead.
  • Parameter “v3″ is used to store the dynamic variable “D=Referer”.  What happens here is the most magical part.  SiteCatalyst dynamic variables have the ability to actually pull the web URL where the press release is posted using the http request headers (in this case the “Referer” header)– no JavaScript necessary!  For this example, eVar 3 would be populated with the URL on which the press release was located.  It may seem like “Referer” (intentionally spelled “Referer” rather than “Referrer”) would capture the referrer to the page, but it actually stores the URL of the actual press release.

Once the image request is embedded in your press release, Adobe Engineering Services can create a VISTA rule to populate a 4th variable with the domain where the press releases were found, which can give you an idea of which sites were most successful for your press release.

Press releases may be tricky to measure, but tagging these releases with SiteCatalyst server calls provides an awesome, JavaScript-free way of understanding what press releases are really doing for your business.