Let’s face it- we’re a visual society. Since our earliest years, images have been capturing our attention; entertaining and exciting us. They have been at the heart of storytelling, one of our first methods of expression, and a fundamental tool for education. Through illustrative graphics, we learned how to read & write, add & multiply. And so, the rapidly mounting use and influence of infographics by professional communicators, during an era when a minute -or even just seconds – of our audiences’ attention is highly coveted, should come as no surprise.
Late last year, PR Newswire analyzed press release data and found that the inclusion of multimedia significantly improves press release results. An infographic, which is more detailed than a photo and conveys information more quickly than a video, successfully extends the core message of a press release, bringing text to life by highlighting the important components. Due in part to social media, information is so abundant it can make your head spin, so an infographic, as a diversion from plain text, gets right to the point, simplifies complex information and creates another opportunity to impact the reader in an instant. All this considered, it is no wonder that multimedia news releases get more play.
As with any piece content, however, an infographic must be relevant, interesting and meaningful; it should not rely solely on eye-catching artwork. Nor should the content be overwhelming; they can pack a big punch and carry a significant amount of information, but if successfully done, are displayed in a way that flows sensibly and is easily digestible. An effective infographic both elicits an instant reaction, but also makes us think and want to learn more.
What I like most about an infographic isn’t its ability to concisely tell a story or the fuel it becomes to drive a message forward – (though both notable features), but the opportunity for free creative reign. As soon as I’m tasked with writing a press release – and as a PR pro, you can imagine is quite often – I begin outlining the draft in my head – going through a checklist of elements that make it up: concise, informative headline – witty, if appropriate; strong lead sentence and paragraph to catch my readers’ attention, while also providing significant insight to what will be covered; shareable quote from appropriate source, and so on.
The press release fits into a fairly standard format. Infographics, on the other hand, allow us to detour from our usual template and color outside the lines. This doesn’t mean we have to be “artists” or “designers,” but just requires us to revisit our early days and think a bit more visually.
And while infographics have a place in almost any message, they are especially great making data sets more appealing and instantly understandable, such as:
- Packaging survey results that may otherwise be cumbersome in lengthy text format;
- Summarizing statistical data that can otherwise lose the fleeting interest of a reader;
- Offering comparison research that will have a more a dramatic effect with visuals;
- Messages targeted to multilingual audiences (images are a universal language, right?)
Infographics can be used to illustrate a variety of subjects, and in addition to data, are also useful for expressing lifecycles, processes and flow charts. Here are some recent examples we’ve spotted:
- Hotels.com replaced lengthy lists of the top travel destinations by tapping into our natural visual associations and incorporating it into the graphic you see embedded in this post, and incorporating pricing data for each market. (See the full release: The hotels.com Biannual Hotel Price Index Shows a 3 Percent Global Price Increase and Gradual Recovery)
- Emerson’s InSinkErator division, the world’s largest maker of food disposers, illustrated the environmental impacts of different methods of handling food waste in the infographic at the top of this post. (See the full release: New Study Will Make People Think Twice About How They Discard Food Waste)
So, let’s get back to basics of dynamic storytelling and start communicating visually.
Author Meryl Serouya is a marketing & communications associate for PR Newswire. A version of this story titled “Infographics as Press Releases” ran earlier this month in Ragan’s PR Daily.