Tag Archives: Visual Storytelling

Content We Love: Visual Storytelling in Regulated Industries

ContentWeLove

Communicators in highly regulated industries such as healthcare must carefully consider the compliance and privacy laws that govern their businesses before experimenting with new content trends. But regardless of these policies, it is still critical for healthcare companies to engage their audiences with visual storytelling given the complex nature of their messages. For public stakeholders such as patients, visual storytelling illustrates abstract concepts and raises greater awareness for healthcare issues.

This subject will be explored in greater detail by leading healthcare and financial brand marketers at the live event “Visually Conveying Your Message in a Highly Regulated Environment,” on Thursday, September 18 in Boston. Use the promo code PRNCOMP at checkout for a complimentary registration: http://prn.to/1sZrFQm

The American Society of Hematology is using visual storytelling to spark a dialogue around sickle cell disease and draw attention to Sickle Cell Awareness Month this September via a multimedia news release. Communicators in regulated industries should make note of how the ASH framed their content to shed light on the disease and inspire action:

Click here to view the complete Multimedia News Release

Click here to view the complete Multimedia News Release

  • Sickle cell affects the body internally and therefore the physical impact of this disease is not very apparent to those who aren’t affected. Seeing the internal effects of sickle cell disease depicted in a short video and photos helps bring greater understanding of the issue.
  • The text of the release is fleshed out yet focused, written inverted pyramid style and answers the 5 W’s: who, what, when, where, why.
  • The call-to-action is strong and strategically-savvy: reporters and journalists reading this release can simply click on the button to request an interview with a sickle cell disease expert. Earned media is a critical part of educating the public, including policy makers who can support funding for research, about the seriousness of this issue.
  • Related links offer additional information to raise further awareness.

Digital media is changing the nature of the healthcare industry, and communications tactics must evolve with it. The ASH has demonstrated how communicators in regulated industries can use visuals and owned content promotion to further awareness around an important cause.

ShannonAuthor Shannon Ramlochan, Content Marketing Coordinator at PR Newswire. Follow her on Twitter @sramloch.

Video

The 3 Tactical Elements That Made the “Ice Bucket Challenge” a Viral Success

Unless you live under a rock that isn’t equipped with Wi-Fi, you’ve probably seen news about the viral success of the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge.” Our social streams are full of friends, family and celebs dumping buckets of ice water on their heads and challenging others to either donate to ALS or subject themselves to an icy shower.

The results are pretty amazing. The ALS Foundation reports that donations have increased nine fold during the challenge, and the organization is unquestionably garnering new donors and supporters for its mission.

There are lots of causes out there about which people are passionate, and many charities make deft use of the social web, which begs this question: Why is ALS research getting a disproportionate share of attention (and dollars) this summer? The answers are actually pretty simple.

  1. Video is at the heart of the viral spread. Participants post videos – some elaborately staged others spur-of-the-moment – of their dousing on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other channels. Video is the most arresting visual format, and communications featuring video elements have an advantage over other message types.
  2. Personal interaction, as well as a bit of peer pressure – are built into the challenge. Participants issue challenges to others they name, and those people then follow suit. Viral spread isn’t just assured; it’s built into the fabric of the campaign.
  3. Creative license, with a shot of competition. The audience generated element rewards creativity. Case in point – a colleague and I who received the Challenge from another coworker are orchestrating plans for our own video response. We’re determined to up the ante in our response, which will probably inspire the folks we nominate to do the same. The result? An organic mix of interesting and widely varied content.

For communicators planning campaigns on social channels or at live events, keeping these three keys in mind as you structure the program will help ensure success. A strong visual core will garner more attention than plain text, and building in the right sort of interactivity that encourages viral spread and rewards creativity will result in the development of higher-quality content that is more likely to spread.

sarah avatarAuthor Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of strategic communications, and is the author of  the ebook Driving Content DiscoveryFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

 

10 Tips for Creating Wildly Successful Infographics

PRN_Infographic_Tips

Infographics are playing a larger role in visual storytelling efforts. When they are thoughtfully designed, they provide attention-grabbing visuals that also help the reader better comprehend and remember the message. This added value to the reader often encourages further engagement and sharing.

Based on my experience creating infographics that are used in PR Newswire’s press releases, blog posts and presentations, here are some best practices for designing infographics that drive results:

Design Basics
These tips can be applied to any design process to get the best end result.

  1. Sketch first, polish later.Before you hop into Photoshop, Illustrator, etc., sketch out your ideas on some old-fashioned paper. My process often starts with a roughly drawn outline of grouped ideas. Once I get that initial visualization of my own thoughts, I can make quick adjustments in another layout sketch before I start work in Adobe’s finest.
  2. Solicit feedbackAs with most creative endeavors, having your work colleagues review your design can help you make the piece even stronger. I will often ask my non-designer teammates for their opinions early on in the process to make sure the concept is being clearly conveyed. I circle back to them again at the end on for fine tuning.
  1. Start in high resolution.
    You can always scale down the image, but scaling up takes additional time and resources.

Multi-Use Flexibility
Infographics can take on many forms and be used in multiple channels. Accounting for this early in your design process will save you some time and money.

  1. Align to your story.
    The first thing to consider is your reason for creating this image – to support the story in an email campaign, blog post, press release, etc.  The information you share in your visual should closely align with the accompanying text of this primary placement. Be sure the terms, structure and tone are consistent to provide cohesive support to your written story.
  1. Strengthen it to stand alone.
    You probably want your users to share your image on social media, so it needs to make sense without the accompanying text of your written story. Be sure to include a clear title of what a reader should expect from the graphic. If you’re targeting a niche audience, make sure you clarify this context in the title and/or subtitle.
  1. Plan for alternate uses.
    We all have limited resources, so you won’t want to spend extra time reformatting your amazing design after the fact. Be aware of common re-purposing and plan accordingly.Generally, I’d say you should always be prepared for these two scenarios:

    1. Presentations: Someone in your organization will want to include it in a PowerPoint deck at some point. I always make sure that the featured data of my infographic is in a landscape layout, which can be easily cropped and dropped onto a slide.
    2. Print-friendly PDFs: Whether for use as sales collateral or an event handout, it’s likely that someone will want to print out your rockstar infographic somewhere down the line. Bearing this in mind, I begin all my layouts in standard paper size (8.5 in x 11 in) in high resolution, allowing for a minimum 0.25” margin of white space.

Viewer Friendly
The trend of long-scrolling, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink data visualization has come and gone. Readers are looking for shorter bursts of visual content .

  1. Narrow your focus.
    Keep your audience’s limited attention span focused by narrowing your visual scope to the core of your message. Your ultimate goal should be to clearly convey one idea.If there are additional thoughts and ideas that you want to include, consider the following options:
  • Supporting items should take a visual backseat to your key point. The reader’s eye should clearly flow from the title to the key idea first.
  • Similar but equally strong ideas might benefit from their own separate graphics. Why squish everything into one, when you can create a short series.
  • Perhaps a single infographic is not the best visual solution for your message. For compound, complex ideas, a video might be a better fit to clarify your message. Or, to unify a series of infographics, consider creating a Slideshare presentation and/or a PDF.
  1. Cut excess words.
    Infographics should always be easy to scan—and understand—quickly. Limit supporting text to a single sentence whenever possible. If it takes a paragraph to explain a visual, it probably isn’t the right visual to use. Even if you’re creating a visual list, brevity should still be top priority.

Mobile-Minded
Audiences are spending more and more time on their smartphones and tablets, and that includes viewing your infographics. Make sure it’s just as easy for them to view on smaller devices.

  1. Avoid tiny text.
    Don’t make your mobile audiences squint. As a rule of thumb, I try to keep my detail text at or above 12pt (in the original 300 dpi source file).
  2. Account for retina displays.
    Even though screens have gotten smaller, the resolution has doubled. Ensure your work doesn’t look blurry or pixelated on high definition tablets by doubling the standard length and width of the 72 dpi specs.For example, if you are posting a graphic to your blog where the standard image size is 500×250, you’ll want to save your image to 1000×500 with 72 dpi.

Now that you’ve created your wildly successful infographic, be sure it gets the attention it deserves by promoting it across all “PESO” channels – Paid, Earned, Social & Owned.

PR Newswire offers a benefit to members that allows them to easily store, organize, and incorporate visuals into campaigns using Media Studio in the Online Member Center. Click here to learn more.

jamie_400x400Author Jamie Heckler is the Senior Creative Manager at PR Newswire. Follow her on Twitter @jamieheckle

The key to press release success: multiple visual elements [Study + infographic]

Press releases with multiple visual assets generate more views, a study by PR Newswire found.

Press releases with multiple visual assets generate more views, a study by PR Newswire found.

How can you get better results with your press releases?  The data is in, and the answer is clear.  Visual illustration of your message is a key driver of success.

PR Newswire’s analytics team recently updated – and significantly expanded – our analysis of press release types, and the results each produces in terms of online views.  For the most recent iteration of this ongoing analysis, we looked at every press release viewed on PRNewswire.com last year, regardless of when it was issued.  Well over one million press releases were measured. 

For the analysis, we broke the release types into the following buckets:

  • Text Only
  • Text + one visual asset, such as a single image or video
  • Text + multiple visuals
  • Fully loaded multimedia press releases and campaign microsites

The results are clear – visuals drive more content views, and adding multiple media assets to your content (press releases, and anything else you publish online, for that matter) generates even better results.

Why visuals improve results:  

One visual is good, more are better.   There are a few reasons why this is the case.

  • Each visual is distributed in its own right, and has its own potential for garnering attention.  In addition to the distribution of visual content the brand either pays for or executes on its own, each visual also has the potential to trigger social sharing, further expanding the audience for the message.
  • Visuals surface story elements that may be overlooked by readers, giving your messages second (and third) chances at connecting with readers.  It’s easy to overlook a theme that’s presented in the middle of the fourth paragraph. However, calling attention to that theme with a visual – a video snippet or image – can help connect that message with readers who care, and who might have glanced over the message initially.
  • Journalists and bloggers are also hunting for visuals to illustrate the digital media they create. While they may not use the visuals your brand provides in their original form,  they will often edit video to fit their stories or derive new works from infographics.  Additionally, including visuals communicates that the story is one that can (and should be) illustrated visually, which will increase the story’s appeal for many digital content creators.

Many communicators note they don’t have ready access to related images when asked why they don’t use more multimedia in their press releases.  Our new Media Studio tool – free for clients using the Online Member Center to upload content for distribution, enables you to store, organize, size, caption and tag images for use in digital content.

If you’d like to speak to someone on our team about adding visuals to your press releases, please contact us here: http://promotions.prnewswire.com/standout2014.html

sarah avatarAuthor Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of strategic communications, and is the author of  the ebook Driving Content DiscoveryFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

MultiVu Earns 6 Honorable Mentions from PR Daily’s 2013 Video Awards

A recent study by market research firm, GlobalWebIndex, indicates that more than a quarter of internet users are regularly watching branded videos across all age and gender demographics.  Based on these findings, the message is clear: no matter who your target audience is, videos have an unprecedented ability against any other forms of content to capture attention and connect with people on an emotional level.

Today, PR Daily announced the winners of their 2013 Video Awards, and PR Newswire’s multimedia production team, MultiVu, earned honorable mentions in six categories including:

  • Best Animated Video
  • Best Company Overview Video
  • Best Event Video
  • Best Low-Budget Video
  • Best News Story Video
  • Best Use of a Celebrity or Personality

View all of the video entries by clicking here

The broad scope of categories that MultiVu has earned recognition in serves as testament to all the imaginative and brilliant ways that your organization can use video to tell your story. The fact that audiences are interacting with brands and primarily visual content daily on social media shows that there is a clear interest in understanding what makes your company great. Use videos to seize that opportunity, and let people know how you are impacting your community, your industry, or the world.

To learn more about telling your story with multimedia, visit http://www.prnewswire.com/multivu/

ShannonShannon Ramlochan is PR Newswire’s Content Marketing Coordinator. 

10 Tips for Developing Your Organization’s Visual Strategy

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.

MediaStudio-Visual-Storytelling 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.

  1. Getting organizedSo 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Mine the presentations your employees create for sales meetings and external presentations, for new story lines and fresh content.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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! 

sarah avatarAuthor Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook Driving Content DiscoveryFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

Why Storytelling Matters for PR

There’s a lot of talk about storytelling today amongst communicators, and for good reason.   In our frenetic, always-on, socially-connected, information fueled environments, information is continually washing over us.  A few things stick, and those are generally stories.

The key to a good story is found in the audience’s ability to relate strongly to something in the story, which naturally builds affinity.  And affinity is important to brands.

A good narrative can also spur the audience to act.  The best social media campaigns are all underpinned with strong stories.

Developing the ability to weave storytelling into unexpected places – such as press releases or executive profiles, for example – can have myriad effects.  Stories can help journalists understand the impact of announcement, and drive news coverage.  A compelling story can inspire prospective customers to act, and engage more deeply with a brand.

Stories are more than flash-in-the-pan campaign tactics.  They build pulling power over time, which means different KPIs should be employed to measure their effects.   Traffic to the web site over time, message virality and the quality of the leads generated over time are all measures that communicators can use to gauge the impact of the stories their brands tell, providing more opportunity to connect PR to top line revenue results.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook Driving Content DiscoveryFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.