Tempo Blog

PR, IR, Marketing, Media and other news from Business Wire

The National Press Club Presents: Multimedia Press Releases and Other Visual News Trends

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media, Business Wire

 

Earlier this month, National Press Club Broadcast committee member Adam Konowe and I sat down to discuss the steps PR professionals must take to generate significant ROI in a cluttered news environment.

 

Click here to listen to the discussion via podcast:  http://www.press.org/news-multimedia/audio/multimedia-press-releases-and-other-visual-news-trends

 

  • When did Business Wire begin distributing press releases and what did the early days of news distribution look like?

Business Wire was founded in 1961. In those days, corporate news releases and newswires were primarily for the purposes of disclosure with couriers distributing releases to the financial news wires. Business Wire's founder Lorry Lokey replaced this process by utilizing simultaneous satellite delivery share news to press releases directly into editorial systems. 

  • At what point did visuals, initially photos, become common?

Multimedia has been a staple in the news industry for well over 100 years, but they started becoming the norm in news releases in the early 90s. That is when Business Wire launched the Smart News Release, which was the first time a newswire service was able to transmit multimedia embedded into a news release over the Internet. 

When it comes to newswires, we continually must consider not only how news consumption has changed for news readers, but the technical capabilities of each of news media outlet we reach around the globe.

  • Fast forward to today and we’re in a multimedia world. You say the future of news is visual. What does that mean?

This is a great question. There are so many things driving the need for companies to include visuals in their news releases.  First you have human preference.  Did you know that 63 percent of all humans prefer to learn through kinesthetic learning – meaning they prefer to learn via interactions and imagery?  How does this learning preference impact public relations?  It is very difficult to activate these audiences with a text-only news release, today’s organizations must include multimedia to ensure visual and textual learners can consume the news equally.

Then you have a change in technologies which have also impacted the need for companies to include multimedia.  Thanks to the amazing leap forward in camera technologies included in today's mobile phones, consumers are also multimedia creators.  If you want to get someone's attention in 2016 - whether it is a reporter, consumer or employee, you have to mix visuals with relevant, interesting text. You can no longer distribute news releases in a text-only format and expect actions or adoption.  We see news releases with multimedia assets generating 3x more activity than text only news releases. It is time for PR professionals to adapt to this change.

  • How are PR practitioners at companies and other organizations leveraging this emerging trend?

The good news is many PR practitioners now understand that message adoption is deepened and message actions are increased when you include multimedia. They are creating news imagery, or repurposing marketing content to ensure their stories are told not only textually but visually as well.  Very modern PR pros are even moving PAST standard multimedia and utilizing interactive content, which average approximately 4-10 minutes of engagement which is unheard of in modern news consumption.

 

  • What visuals do editors and reporters really want to receive? Aren’t they drowning already?

Oddly enough, no. The amount of time it takes for reporters to create or find and vet news assets is extremely high, especially in the age of rapid news creation.  By providing reporters with relevant, useful multimedia content, public relations officers not only increase the opportunity of coverage, they reduce the amount of time it takes for a story to be created.  We frequently hear from media outlets that the elements they look for when considering covering a news release include a strong, relevant headline, interesting multimedia asset and a good quote.

  • After photos, videos and infographics, what’s next in terms of visual news content?

Interactive content such as hyperspotted images and traveling microsites are the wave of the future.  Not only do they gamify the news, increasing message adoption and content interaction, they provide media outlets with assets that are keeping readers on their news site longer. 

These interactive story capsules are being used for everything, from healthcare product launches to CSR efforts with startling results.  When was the last time someone engaged with your organization’s branded news content for 4-10 minutes? That is an outrageous amount of time for someone to learn, and adopt your message.

  • How does the increasing focus on search engine optimization impact press release writing and distribution?

This is a tricky question. Google knows that editorial coverage moves people through the sales and marketing funnel faster than any other content, so they place this content very high in mobile and desktop search results.  Now they are including the news release in this 

same section to provide search users access to the "source news".  To increase your news’ opportunity to appear more frequently in 

search, the most optimized sections of the news release is the headline, subhead multimedia asset. 

Greg Jarboe from SEO-PR recently released the results of a SEO test he did with news releases.  He found that news releases that include relevant industry keywords, such as "the Internet of Things" increased coverage, open rates and product sales than a non-optimized news release.  We highly recommend our clients utilize tools like Google Trends, Google AdWords and Spyfu to identify relevant industry keywords to include in their release.  HOWEVER keep in mind, these keywords must be relevant or else the release will not result in higher activity.

  • Do you think the evolution of the press release with additional content helps overcome journalistic skepticism about the medium in the first place?

Actually, it's funny. In our media surveys, journalists tell us they use newswires every day.  From our own news tracking service, we know that news releases that contain multimedia elements receive 3x the open rates and engagement than plain text news releases. Media outlets use newswires, but they are more likely to pick up and cover a story if it includes an optimized headline and multimedia asset. PR professionals must adopt this visual trend if they want to continue to receive news coverage.

  • The evolution to an increasingly digital news landscape changes the way we measure PR success. What metrics do customers expect these days?

The PR industry has a ways to go when it comes to tracking. The most frequently tracked result is coverage or shares, but we recommend moving past that to track inbound traffic, time on site, additional content consumed and even sales.  News releases kick off sales and marketing supported projects, it only makes sense to track their impact in reducing the sales journey.

  • All of this content requires things like a communications strategy and a budget. How do PR practitioners get organizational buy-in to get started in the first place?

This is my favorite question! The easiest way to get buy in on multimedia is to do a few things: 

  1. Reframe success metrics to showcase the true impact of news releases, not simply coverage count
  2. Perform an asset audit to determine what multimedia assets you already has available for news use. This will help determine what new pieces need to be created or how to refresh existing pieces. 
  3. Work more closely with marketing and web analytics teams to ensure the correct assets are being created, used and tracked.

Public Relations in 2016 is more exciting than ever before. You have media outlets publishing more content, faster than ever. You have search and social surfacing coverage, increasing news visibility higher than ever before.  You have consumers reading more than ever.  And you also have news technologies evolving into more engaging and impactful content, and then finally a wide range of free and paid measurement services that really track true impact of news on company goals. Nothing drives consumer trust more than the work PR teams generate.  If you're in PR today, you deserve a raise!

 

Click here to listen to the discussion via podcast:  http://www.press.org/news-multimedia/audio/multimedia-press-releases-and-other-visual-news-trends

 

Click here to share this data with your Twitter followers:  http://ctt.ec/fi8tR

 

To learn more about visual marketing, check out our recent SlideShare presentation – Everything You Need to Know about Visual Marketing – the Ultimate Guide at http://www.slideshare.net/businesswire/everything-you-need-to-know-about-visual-marketing-the-ultimate-guide