Visual press releases: a hands-on guide
One of the most common questions we hear from PR professionals is, “How can I make my press releases more visual?”. Most PR pros understand that visual content is important, but for an industry that still relies heavily on pitch emails and text-based press releases, making the switch to visual PR can be daunting.
Well, PR pros, you’re in luck. This post is your ultimate guide to creating visual press releases. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, but we promise it will be worth it. Here’s a quick overview of what’s in store:
- Types of visual content – There are four main types of visual content you can use in your PR programs. We’ll cover them all, complete with plenty of real-world examples.
- Best practices for each content type – Most of these are just common sense, but don’t skip over this section. We’ve thrown in a few helpful hints that might not have occurred to you.
- Helpful DIY tools – For those of you who want to go the DIY route, we’ve put together a fantastic list of online tools to help you do so. Bonus: they’re all easy to use, free or inexpensive, and incredibly powerful.
- Outsourcing tips – If you intend to outsource content development, check out our list of vendors and guidelines to make sure you get the most for your money.
There are many reasons to include visual content in your press releases, but the biggest by far is that visual content gets shared more. A lot more. Facebook posts with images get 53% more likes and 104% more comments than the average post. Tweets with pictures are nearly twice as likely to be retweeted. And content with compelling images gets 94% more views than content without.
If that’s not enough to convince you that visual content matters, chew on this: A 2012 study by PR Newswire found that press releases with photos garnered nearly twice as many views as text alone. The more multimedia you add, the more that percentage skyrockets. Press releases with text, photo, video, and downloadable files received up to 9.7 times the views as plain text releases.
If these stats came as a surprise, content editors are one step ahead of you. They already know that visual content matters. They’re urging journalists to include more visuals in their articles, and the more you can give journalists what they need to be successful, the more coverage you’ll get for your clients.
Now that you’re fully convinced of the importance of visual content (you are, right?), let’s cover some key types of visual content and best practices for leveraging each type. Some are so simple, you can start adding them to your press releases right away, while others require more time and resources to develop. Either way, it’s definitely worth the extra effort.
Images are the workhorses of visual PR. Easy to use, cheap to obtain, and proven to increase views, adding images to your press releases will drive better results across the board.
Protip: Images are especially handy when you share your press release on social media – they’ll automatically generate an image preview, which, as you saw from the stats above, increases the likelihood of engagement.
Below, the communications team at Brussels Airlines includes images to make their press release more interesting and engaging (click the screenshot to see the full release):
Brussels Airlines uses Prezly to share their stories. Here’s a case study with the media relations manager.
Want more examples of visual press releases?
Best practices for images
Images work best when they are eye-catching, high quality, and relevant. Steer clear of generic stock photos. Instead, choose images that clearly relate to your story, as in the above example.
For press releases, it’s best to use high quality, high-resolution photos. For pitch emails, include an image preview that downloads quickly (shameless plug: Learn how Prezly can help with that!). Make sure it’s easy for journalists to download your images by using a social media press release, not a link to a wetransfer or worse, a password-protected image library.
If you’d like to dive deeper into this topic, check out this great collection of tips from Meltwater on optimizing your visuals to get more engagement.
From a 15-second shot on Instagram to professionally shot commercials, there’s a reason viral marketers love video – it’s arguably the world’s most effective storytelling medium, eliciting powerful emotions and memorable narratives in just a few seconds. Videos add a human, relatable component to your press releases that’s difficult to capture with text alone. They’re also great for explaining ideas that would be complicated to write out, such as a new software release.
Check out Lenovo’s brilliant addition of video below the text body in this social media press release.
Best practices for video
Don’t be daunted by the time and expense of creating professional videos. An off-the-cuff Instagram video filmed with your smartphone can be just as powerful. However you choose to create your videos, remember to keep them short (a few minutes, tops!) and simple. Overcomplicate the story, and you risk losing your audience.
Protip: Don’t host massive video files on your server; upload them to YouTube or Vimeo instead. There are several benefits to doing this: it helps your press releases load faster, automatically generates previews when sharing on social media, works across all devices, and perhaps best of all, gives your content an SEO boost.
Ready to get more creative with video? Have a look at these 25 brands who are winning on Instagram for inspiration.
When you have a data-driven story to tell, infographics are a natural choice. Visually appealing, easy to read, and chock full of viral potential, the best infographics literally paint a picture with your data, making it easy to understand and simple for readers to follow along.
Best practices for infographics
Simplicity, clarity, and good data are the keys to a successful infographic. Start with the question, “What impression do I want the reader to take away from this data?”, and design your infographic around the answer.
Use your data to tell a clear narrative, and don’t deviate from it. Use only as many visuals as you need. A simple, easy-to-understand story is always better than an overcrowded collection of statistics, no matter how good it looks. If you’d like to try your hand at an infographic press release, here are three gorgeous examples to inspire you.
Protip: Get more traction by sharing your infographics on Pinterest, the ultimate visual social media platform.
No longer a repository for dusty decks of old webinars and keynotes, SlideShare is the most trafficked presentation-sharing site in the world. At three billion slide views per month, it’s also an incredibly powerful PR and content marketing channel. Hit the front page, and your content is almost certain to go viral, generating tens of thousands of free views for your brand.