Marketers know that visual communication is the future of their industry. According to a 2019 report from the Content Marketing Institute, 64% of B2B marketers had increased their utilization of audiovisual content — from video to webinars to livestreaming — in the past year. Meanwhile, 56% had increased their use of images, which might include everything from illustrations and infographics to charts and photos. Yet public relations professionals haven’t been as quick to adopt these strategies.
As of 2015, the most recent year for which such data is available, just 42% of press releases included a visual component. This is a disadvantage for PR professionals, considering that a 2018 survey of journalists found that 77% were “more likely to cover a story” if the press release included access to images that they could use. What’s more, news releases see 1.4x more views when images are included, and 2.8x more with the inclusion of video.
So if you’re working in public relations, how can you boost your use of visual content and increase engagement? Here are 4 surefire strategies. They’re especially focused on how to use visual communication in press releases, but we’ve also included other tips for PR professionals.
1. Target a specific audience.
When you know who your audience is, you’re more equipped to give them what they want. For instance, while 10-second mobile video ads are more appealing to millennials, audiences between the ages of 35 and 54 tend to prefer 30-second spots, and are more likely to use desktop or laptop computers as their primary medium of content engagement compared to mobile.
Once you know this and more about your target audience, you’ll know whether to create, say, social-media videos or micro-narratives for Twitter. These can be used as part of a public relations campaign to promote your press release, and repurposed to appear inside your press release.
2. Keep text to a minimum.
An analysis of more than a million articles by BuzzSumo found that the posts that had an image every 75–100 words saw double the amount of shares than posts with fewer images. Apply this principle to your next public relations campaign. Few audiences — not even journalists — have the time, patience, or attention span to read a long block of text. Break up the text in your articles or news releases with visuals, and you’ll see more engagement and more buzz.
3. Use diverse types of media across your public relations campaign.
The greater variety of media you include or link to in a given press release, the more ways audiences have to engage. Especially if you’re trying to reach a broad audience, you may include both social-media videos and micro-narratives — then they can choose how to interact with your brand.
Video is taking over the internet, and marketers are jumping on board. Yet PR Newswire reports that just 2% of press releases include motion graphics or video. Including video in your next news release is a chance to set yourself apart. Meanwhile, including links to your visual ebooks or to your campaign’s interactive landing page gives audiences plenty of ways to engage with your brand on a deeper level, and access to your broader public relations campaign.
4. Find creative ways to share.
Few people will want to read a news release, so you’ll have to find different ways to get audiences excited about the news you want to share. The visual assets you create for your press release can and should be repurposed across a broad array of platforms. Share videos on Vimeo and Youtube, and redesign them for vertical layouts so you can use them in Instagram and Snapchat Stories. Cut up an infographic into bite-sized pieces to share on Twitter and Facebook. Consider what audiences you’re most likely to find on each of these platforms, and make sure you’re sharing the type of content that’s most appealing to them.
Use these strategies, and your next public relations campaign will be transformed. Using visual communication effectively will set you apart from other PR professionals, and place your company ahead of the curve.