Master Class: What type of multimedia content will broaden the appeal of a press release?

This month's panel discusses the creation of multimedia content that can enhance a press release.

Panel

Paolina Milana
EVP of marketing/media/editorial operations, Marketwire
e-mail: pmilana@marketwire.com

Bernadette Morris
President and CEO, Black PR Wire
e-mail: bmorris@blackprwire.com

Laura Sturaitis
SVP, media services and product strategy, Business Wire
e-mail: Laura.Sturaitis@businesswire.com

Jiyan Wei
Director, product management, PRWeb
e-mail: jwei@vocus.com

Bev Yehuda
VP, products, MultiVu
e-mail: Bev.yehuda@prnewswire.com

Paolina Milana, EVP, marketing/media/editorial operations, Marketwire

Adding multimedia content to your press releases brings your news to life and dramatically expands its reach. Not only does multimedia appeal to today's thinning ranks of overworked journalists, it is also a draw to consumers as they share your news on blogs and online communities.

Consider images when creating a press release. Ready-to-use high-resolution photos or graphics are a time-saving boon for journalists. They draw attention to your story, can link to additional resources, and drive traffic to your Web site. By incorporating a photo in your release, you make it easier for consumers to find your news on search engine results pages that display thumbnail images. But be sure to provide a text alternative, or "alt tag," to ensure your images can be found by search engines.

Multi-sensory video goes beyond photos to bring your news to life. Consumers can download your video on online communities and blogs. Depending on how popular the topic or creative the execution, your video may even go viral.

Will the media use your video? Quite possibly, depending on how it fits with their story. And don't worry about professional quality - the most believable, social media-acceptable videos are those shot by non-professionals in "real life" settings.

Don't overlook audio if that does the best job of supporting your news or announcement. Sound bites are often used on the radio. Depending on your news, you may even consider adding a podcast.

Before you send your next press release, take the time to understand what types of multimedia elements best amplify your messages and speak to your audiences. Then add that photo, graphic, video, or audio clip to your next release and watch pickup soar.

Bernadette Morris, president and CEO, Black PR Wire

Press release writers and distributors must know that their target markets are more knowledgeable and savvy than ever before. Media outlets have learned to tune out noise as they are constantly solicited to cover more topics and stories.

Slicing through the clutter requires a more engaging package that goes beyond the traditional press release. Just providing the who, what, when, where, and why is great, but the more interactive you can make your release, the better. As media outlets expand their online presence, new methods can tell stories which were previously confined to text in a press release.

Media outlets have more room to play with online, but your story always has a better chance of getting placed when it is told in more interesting ways.

It is already proven that video makes a tremendous impact online. Rather than include quotations in a regular release, interview executives and experts on camera to make the story more dynamic. Also, make sure to include a link to preview it in the press release. A deeper impression is made on media, increasing the placements and reach of your message.

As the print-media-reading generation is replaced with those preferring multi-sensory stimulation, you can help outlets increase their consumer reach by doing the work for them. Don't wait for them to follow up for a phone interview; send the audio piece already completed.

The media and consumers want to be able to read information, watch video, download high-resolution photos, and get background information on your organization through accompanying links to product information, Web pages, and photo galleries. This will reduce the amount of time that is required to obtain on-demand information and complete a comprehensive story, putting your press release above those that will necessitate more work. 

Laura Sturaitis, SVP, media services and product strategy, Business Wire

The press release is no longer just a media relations tool; it is now widely read online, in addition to the eyes it attracts via traditional delivery inside the newsroom. The press release has evolved into something that should be viewed as a standalone presence - a mini-Web page in itself.

Communicators who "show" in pictures, videos, audio clips, slide shows, and links to more detailed information and landing pages, rather than "tell" in a prose news release, can indeed serve both the media and direct consumer audience.

The press release can even be shorter because all audiences will consume the story in the way they prefer: Broadcast media can use video and audio provided by the company; print media can take the hi-res images provided with the press release story package and create the formats and variants they require for use in magazines or on blogs.

Alternatively, a company's own photo, logo, or video gallery, hosted at its own online newsroom, can easily be linked within the body of the release. For optimal results, however, the multimedia content should be provided to the newswire to distribute and display on the press release page itself.

Keywords used for search engine optimi-zation within the text of the release should also be used in the captions of the photos and video assets provided to the newswire for delivery with the story. The newswire will host that content, providing embed links so that the multimedia content can either be used together, or separately, for use by media or bloggers or shared in social networks. This will enable the activity that takes place on this release containing text and multimedia to be measured, providing the client with a metric for the ROI of that press release.

Jiyan Wei, director of product management, PRWeb

Both images and video are among the most important elements to consider in a press release because they have a significant impact on the performance of an online news release.

Images and video provide several key benefits. First, including an image will increase the likelihood that someone seeing your news in a search engine is going to click through and read it. Search engines will look for images in news stories and then convert them into thumbnails that will be presented in tandem with the standard title and summary on search engine results pages.

Our research indicates that the presence of a thumbnail makes it far more likely that someone will click through to read your news release from a search results page. This is becoming an increasingly powerful tool as search engines continue to blend different types of content in their main page results because an image and resulting thumbnail will cause the news result to stand out even more.

This increased visibility will not only drive more traffic, but it will also impact media relations efforts because more than half of all journalists now use Google or Yahoo News for research.

Furthermore, press releases containing images and video capture the attention of the reader with more frequency than text-based press releases. This is evidenced by increases in metrics like time-on-page. In turn, increased time-on-page can be connected with a greater likelihood of some further action being taken.

The more time someone spends on your press release, the more likely they are to click through to your Web site, download more information, or contact you for additional details.

Bev Yehuda, VP, products, MultiVu

Much of the multimedia content that you can include in a press release can serve a dual purpose of appealing to both the media and consumers.

Video is a very effective way to appeal to both audiences. A compelling scripted video that is three to five minutes in length can be used by online media entities to draw in traditional broadcast outlets or be viewed and shared directly by consumers. Create a separate broadcast quality mpeg2 file for broadcast outlets so they can edit and air the footage. You may want to host these larger files on a media site to which you can direct media for downloads. You can also include b-roll downloads here.

Always include logos and photos for the media - they can be used for both traditional airing, as well as print or online placement. Photo galleries are also engaging for consumers, while the logo enhances brand recognition among this audience. Consumers may be tempted to buy a product after viewing video or photos, or media may be interested in learning more about your brand after reading your content, so include hyperlinks to encourage both media and consumers to look for additional information.

To further engage consumers, it is key to create interest for them to delve deeper into the topic or to engage via a call to action. For example, you might include a hyperlink to purchase a featured product, a coupon to download, or a contest entry form.

Most importantly, make sure that all of your content is shareable. Content is still king - if you have great content, consumers will want to share it.

The Takeaway

Hi-res photographs can be a huge asset to time-starved journalists looking to spruce up their reporting, whether it's in print or online

Including images and video in press releases can help boost visibility in search engine results

Audio can sometimes get overlooked, but it is still an important multimedia aspect to include in press releases

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