by Sandy Malloy, Senior Information Specialist, Business Wire
Facebook buys Instagram. Experian Hitwise reports that Pinterest is now the #3 social site on the Web. More than ever, the adage “show, don’t tell” applies to communications and communicators.
Adding multimedia to a press release tends to increase the number of online release views. When I looked at a list of the most-viewed releases of the second half of 2011 to see how many were multimedia-enriched, I found some pretty startling numbers.
Of the top 500 English-language releases, about 75% had one or more photos or videos. Out of all the English language releases that Business Wire distributes, only 5% include multimedia. In other words, 5% of all our English language releases accounted for 75% of the 500 most-viewed releases in the last 6 months of last year.
We can’t really say that your release is 75% more likely to be viewed if you include photos or videos, or that it will receive 75% more views. Nevertheless, it seems pretty clear to me that adding multimedia does help drive release views.
Consider the releases on the most-popular list that ran without multimedia:
- Google to Acquire Motorola Mobility
- Announcements from several huge pharmaceutical companies on the results of clinical trials or strategic initiatives
- Major acquisitions and joint ventures involving public and/or well-known companies
- One of the major video game manufacturers announcing a price drop
That the Google announcement was hugely popular was no surprise. News from very large public companies is of inherent interest to the media and markets. Acqusitions are almost always big news because of investor interest and because they can affect an entire industry. Video game news, with or without multimedia, tends to be noticed.
Meanwhile, the variety of photos and videos that ran with the Top 500 releases was wide-ranging. Some examples:
- A river cleanup
- A photo of sauces and condiments
- Photos of existing DRAM technology and an innovative variation
- Photos of the principals of 2 merging companies
- A benchmarking study (graphic)
- Pictures and/or video of contest winners
- Ringing of the Opening Bell at the NYSE
What is clear to me from this list is that the potential for finding visuals to accompany–or to tell–a story is vast.
A release can be very technical but illustrated with a photo that its equally technical audience will appreciate. The media do appreciate photos of people, and not just for personnel announcements. (If those people are celebrities, so much the better, but it’s not a requirement. Newspapers and business journals love to use photos of locals.) Charts and graphs can be compelling. Finally, there are some stories that seem to beg for photos or videos. Among these are any releases announcing eye-catching new products; corporate social responsibility releases (show the river that’s being cleaned up, the electric car charging stations, the participants in the 10K run);and releases announcing corporate milestones.
Besides the potential bump in viewership, using multimedia in conjunction with a good story can increase the chances a story will be used by broadcast media. Broadcast monitoring service and Business Wire partner Critical Mention reported in one of their newsletters that the Yelp’s IPO announcement resulted in 395 hits on U.S. television stations; and these are over-the-air broadcasts, not postings on broadcast websites. The story was a big one, of course, but the accompanying images were really colorful and exciting. As Critical Mention described it, the release (what Business Wire calls a Smart News Release) was “loaded with newsy images and video.”
Besides the benefits of attracting attention to your release and giving journalists more reason to cover your news, there is at least one other benefit to using multimedia: Your news can live longer. I have seen many instances of photos being used months or even years after they originally ran. An especially good photo of people or companies in the news can be used more than once, as in this example of Business Wire’s CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz shown with Warren Buffett in a 9/30/11 photo illustrating a 2/6/12 story.
Granted, being affiliated with Warren Buffett is an advantage when it comes to gaining attention. But even companies that don’t have this advantage can still give their stories greater appeal, and “legs”, by supplementing them with multimedia.