We periodically hear that press releases are “dead.” Well, they’re not. Public relations pros can energize their press releases with well-chosen visuals.
Humans are hardwired to be attracted to images. Visual content is more likely to be viewed and shared across social media networks. Studies show that Facebook posts with images get 53 percent more likes and 104 percent more comments. Tweets with images are almost twice as likely to be retweeted.
Likewise, press releases with visual content attract more views and prompt more shares. One study concluded that press releases with photos gain almost twice as many views.
Editors want more images. Public relations professionals who provide visual content are more likely to see their press releases published.
First caution: Throw-in visuals don’t help; visuals must have immediate impact that commands attention.
“Selecting the right images for your press release might seem like an afterthought, but it turns out that the image you choose can be just as important as the message in your press release itself,” stresses Ronn Torosian, CEO of 5W Public Relations, in a post for B2C.
Nevertheless, many businesses and PR teams fail to include images in their press releases and other content. Typically, they cite lack of skill and resources to produce and track visual content.
To invigorate press releases with visuals, follow these best practices:
∙ Create a visual that illustrates and advances the key message of the story. Developing a great idea for a visual often takes as much or more time, effort and creativity as writing the story.
∙ Use the visual’s caption to summarize the story. Captions are read more often and more carefully than body copy.
∙ Optimize photos for search engines. Include your keywords in the image’s file name, title, alt- text, and description.
∙ In order to promote sharing, state in your website (or in the news release itself) the terms and conditions under which others can use the image. Freely sharing your original images creates significant SEO benefits if the attribution includes a link back to your website.
∙ For press releases pitched to journalists, obtain high-quality, high resolution photos.
∙ For news releases sent directly to journalists via email (not through a news release distribution service), do not include visuals as an attachment. Instead, the email should include download links to the visuals stored on a secure server. For that matter, the news release itself should not be attached to the email pitch. That way, journalists do not have to fear that an attachment hides a virus.
∙ Brand your image with your website URL and/or logo. That discourages stealing and ensures that viewers will know who owns the image when it’s shared across social networks.
∙ Conversely, make sure you have permission before reusing an image found on the Internet. Some require proper attribution; others allow you to modify the image, and others don’t. PR teams can also buy others’ images through online services like Fotolia and iStockPhoto.
∙ Strive for high-quality images that align with your brand and are relevant to the release. Avoid generic stock images, and beware of images that can be misconstrued. You don’t necessarily need a professional photography if you are able to take photos that are clear, well lit, composed well, have good contrast and, most of all, contain visual impact.
∙ Add tracking codes to press release URLs to track content and measure results. Measure outcomes, not outputs.
∙ Instead of hosting gigantic video files on your server, upload them to YouTube or Vimeo instead. That helps your press releases load faster, automatically generates previews when sharing on social media, works across all devices, and gives your content an SEO boost.
∙ Although infographics can be used for almost any message, they are most ideal for survey results, statistical data, comparison research, and messages targeted to multilingual audiences. Simplicity, clarity and good data are hallmarks of successful infographics. Focus on a single answer or impression to deliver. Use the data to tell a clear narrative and don’t deviate from it. Don’t include more data than needed.
Last caution: News release distribution services often charge extra to include additional visuals with the press release. The extra charges can escalate costs quite quickly. Make sure you know and understand the additional charges before submitting your online press release distribution order.
Bottom Line: Images and other types of visual content can turbocharge press releases by increasing views and shares. Knowledgeable PR pros follow best practices, including obtaining high-quality, relevant images and using URL tracking codes to track and measure performance of releases.
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William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.