Every so often we hear that press releases are dead. Just recently the Google updates about treating press releases as advertisements had PR folk jittery once again. However, there is ample evidence to show that the digital age has given press releases a new lease on life.
These digital releases are not your grandmother’s releases – you do have to craft them very differently from the traditional press release born in the 20th Century.
Adding multimedia and targeting the public, rather than the media, is the key.
SEO-PR, Business Wire and Get City Dealz of New Orleans just took home the first US Best Use of PR in a Search Campaign award and the Excellence in New Communications Award in the Visual Media Category of the Corporate Division for a series of press releases they tested that showed conclusively just how effective this approach can be.
SEO-PR, Businesswire and Big City Dealz in New Orleans tested the value of adding multimedia to a press release. Not surprisingly, they found that adding images and video upped the views and clicks remarkably.
Each one featured a different local merchant that offered a daily deal or local bargain in New Orleans on the recently launched Get City Dealz platform. Each of the press releases was distributed via Business Wire at 6:30 a.m. on successive Saturday mornings in February.
The first release for Jazzy Nola went out on Feb. 2 and included a video. The second release for Orleans Grapevine went out on Feb. 9 and included a photo. The third release for Glam 504 went out on Feb. 23 and didn’t include multimedia. The target audiences for all three press releases were more than 1 million tourists and 5,000 media members who were converging on New Orleans for two major events – “The Big Game” and Mardi Gras.
By April 1, the first press release with a video had 5,059 release views and 230 link clicks, according to Business Wire’s NewsTrak Reports. The video, which was uploaded to YouTube, also had 69 views. The second release with a photo had 3,406 release views and 181 link clicks. The third release with no multimedia had 3,255 release views and 169 link clicks. So, the release with a video had 55.4% more release views and 36.1% more link clicks and the release with a photo had 4.6% more release views and 7.1% more link clicks than the release with no multimedia. Together, the three releases had 11,720 release views and 580 link clicks.
SEO-PR used the Google Analytics URL Builder to tag the links in the three releases. This enabled the team to see that visitors from press releases visited an average of 3.12 pages per visit and spent an average of 2 minutes and 16 seconds for the duration of a visit. It also enabled the team to see that 72% of the visits from the releases were new, compared the site average of 42%.
PR Newswire released figures a year ago that showed that adding images and videos to a release can increase views and engagement by as much as 9.7%. And it’s not only the public that are demanding visual content with the news – editors, journalists and bloggers do too. The PRESSfeed 2013 media relations survey shows that visual content is becoming expected by the media. Many publications won’t use content without visuals.
Yet despite this research very few press releases today include multimedia. The main reason given by companies and agencies is the lack of skill and resources to produce and track visual content.
This should not be the case. There are many free or low cost tools that make it possible to produce interesting images and compelling videos. Google Analytics is free. Anyone can learn to do this. Make it a priority for 2014.
- Train your current PR staff to produce compelling visuals that will enhance and extend a story.
- Add visuals to every blog post, press release or fact sheet.
- Learn to add tracking parameters with Google Analytics
- Learn to track your content and interpret the results – use tools like the Google Analytics PR Dashboard and Meritus Digital
- Measure outcomes, not outputs.
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