A look at the data around use of visuals by public relations professionals tells a few different stories. On the one hand, use of visuals in press releases has increased steadily over the last few years, and the majority of communicators (76%, to be exact) surveyed about multimedia use in PR indicated they plan to increase usage. That said, the great majority of press releases issued by PRNewswire are text-only, with no visual elements.
At the same time, data around the effectiveness of visuals is incontrovertible. Press releases with more visual elements garner more views. Search engines and social networks reward visual content, which is one reason why messages that contain a visual element get more views. But there’s more to the story than just more eyeballs.
Content with visuals also generates better engagement among the audience, arresting their attention and keeping them on the page longer – especially in the case of video. This helps brands build affinity, and encourage important following actions by the audience is engaged with the messages. An additional benefit – when audiences spend more time on your web site, and interact with the content there, it sends a powerful and positive signal to search engines, indicating that the your web site content is valuable. This contributes positively to search rank.
The case for using visuals in press releases, content marketing and other digital communications is clear, but for many organizations, doing this is easier said than done. According to the PR and marketing pros responding to our survey, budget isn’t the primary constraint when it comes to producing multimedia messaging. The principal challenges are time and resources.
The demand for content across the board puts high demands on an organization’s resources. In-house designers have high workloads and external designers carry high-prices. Developing compelling visual content also takes time, which can be problematic when a fast-moving team is developing a campaign.
- Getting organized- So how can your organization get ahead of the curve when it comes to employing visuals in your messaging? A great way to get started is to simply organize your brand’s visual assets, and centralize their storage. If you’re a PR Newswire customer, you have free access to Media Studio, where you can upload, store and organize images and videos in a secure environment for future use.
- Gathering content – getting it out of hard drives, off the intranet and downloaded from social channels – and consolidating it for easy use by all of your communications teams will help your brand immediately improve communications effectiveness. Additionally, your organization will realize more value from the content it has produced and teams will save time.
- Developing galleries of go-to visuals, such as logos and executive head shots that are ready to go for breaking news and crisis situations as well as for ongoing, regularly scheduled communications. Pro tip: while you’re collecting those head shots, update the bios too, adding links to published articles, active social presences, slide presentations, etc.
- If your company does webinars, check with your webinar provider. You may be able to easily extract elements of a recorded webinar and turn them into the video.
- Mine the presentations your employees create for sales meetings and external presentations, for new story lines and fresh content.
- Be sure to have screenshots of any web-based services or customer portals created and stored. Bonus points will be awarded for video demos or walk-throughs.
- Infographics do not have to be complex, lengthy affairs. A single data point turned into a colorful graph can be just as compelling as a longer form graphic.
- Conversely, if you do produce a long form infographic, be sure to have your designer create stand-alone images of key points. Large infographics don’t render well on every platform. A single, highly visual point can also drive attention to your message.
- Don’t despair if you don’t have a bevy of great research data with which to build an infographics. Processes, decision trees, and building blocks type learning scenarios also make great fodder for infographics.
- Mine white papers and research reports, as well as market research done by product teams, for trends and data that can be turned into simple graphics. Don’t forget to look into interviewing customers quoted in papers, researchers and others associated with the content – videos add new perspective and can humanize a data-rich story.
So if you’re among the majority of communicators who want to utilize more visuals in campaigns, but are challenged by constraints on your time and resources, start by organizing – and then utilizing – the visuals you have. Be sure to tally your results and benchmark progress – that data will help you make the case to secure more budget for content development in the future.
And if you’re a PR Newswire client that uses the Online Member Center, learn more about Media Studio here. This great tool provides you a place to upload, store and organize your visual assets. It’s available to you now … and it’s free!
Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the ebook Driving Content Discovery. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.