As print disappears, information is more quickly disseminated through the visual-focus of social media. In line with this trend, journalists, reporters and editors prefer to watch short videos or look at infographics so they don’t waste as much time reading through pitches largely made up of text. In Cision’s 2017 State of the Media report, 71 per cent of journalists surveyed said they always or often use multimedia content, particularly photos, social media posts, and videos, while the sourcing was the third most valued PR service.

In particular, the preference toward visuals on social media platforms is advancing the need to curate content that is quick, creative and accessible. Considering that many communications professionals aren’t trained multimedia editors and need to pick it up on the job, what are the best strategies to most easily take advantage of the shift towards visual storytelling? Here are ten best practices that can assist with decisions regarding multimedia:

1. Pick Your Medium Thoughtfully

When deciding to use multimedia in your campaign, it is first important to consider which medium will best suite your goals. Let’s say you want to make a video series, but your content largely involves data and statistics. Maybe this would work better as a series of hashtagged infographics, which could then led to a larger reach on Instagram. The same goes for photography, maybe you want to capture images but consider if perhaps your subject matter lends itself to more movement. That’s when you could consider making a video or GIF.  

2. Tell a Story

Images can tell powerful stories due to the fact that vision has an immediate impact on the mind. Focusing on a clear storyline leads to empathic acknowledgment from the audience. Further, messages that are delivered as stories can be 22 times more memorable than just text alone.

Read more about How Visual Storytelling Can Drastically Elevate Brand Success.

3. Harness Emotion

Campaigns that use emotion are 31 per cent more effective due to the fact that they come off as more relevant and authentic. Whether content is geared toward prospective clients, consumers or journalists, emotion triggers common experiences, which most strongly capture human attention.

4. Simplify the Topic

The best multimedia content helps clarify a complex product or service through the strategic use of the image.

The video above from Epson Southeast Asia explains the essentials of new printer features through the use of easy-to-read infographics and animations. 

5. Prioritize High-Resolution Visuals and Audio-Quality  

One of the most cited issues with multimedia sent to journalists is that the quality isn’t ready for publication. Consider creating multiple resolutions (including high-res) and different sizes for images. Also pay attention to audio quality, making sure this is as crisp as possible.

6. Include a Call-to-Action

Asking the audience to be involved in continuing the discussion or visiting a site for more information is important when it comes to multimedia. This is because it can quickly engage and pull people to further their interest in the brand. This could be a short URL, link, or caption of a photo for example. For instance, the vitamin brand Ritual subtlety places “Ritual.com” in the corner while focusing on brightly colored compelling imagery.

7. Create Explanatory Visuals

When preparing to send a press release or create any content that may make its way to being published, first make sure that it is able to stand alone without text online. This means creating an immersive experience, which doesn’t need outside information. Images on social media are often shared with little context and thus can easily be misinterpreted. Make sure that it engages the audience in whatever story you are telling rather than being an afterthought or just for the sake of visual content.

8. Consider Context

How does your multimedia content relate the most value to media while tying back directly to things that will benefit the client or organization? One way to test this is to storyboard to go through the variety of options that may work in a press release for a specific communications platform. Also, make sure it relates back to your social media pages and overall brand design.

9. Consider Different Platforms

If hosting a press conference or other event, consider what can be created in advance and what can be done on the fly. For example, there may be an event where photos and videos are captured on site but it will then need to be timed for release in a matter of hours afterward. This is important to consider when preparing for real events versus online releases. But it is also important to consider digital platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc., and keep in mind the ones that are most relevant to the third party. Figure out the mix of platforms, which extends your third-party outlet’s reach.

10. Prepare for Questions  

What questions will journalists ask? Remember that visuals can be confusing if they are not concise. Consider potential issues or gaps in multimedia before doing outreach.

Conclusion

Tools and technologies for multimedia are advancing, making it more accessible and easy to use. ShareIQ, for example, is Cision’s new image tracking software which monitors where multimedia is online without needing to use hashtags or text. It can provide valuable insight for earned media campaigns, helping you utilize the most effective third-party platforms, journalists, and influencers.

As the expectation for visuals will only become more intense, communications professionals need to be able to optimize their multimedia efforts. Hopefully, these tips have clarified some ways to improve outreach and overall bring greater value to your audience.

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About Maggie Latham

Maggie Latham is a Cision contributor.

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