PRs need to see storytelling as visual


News audiences are watching more digital news video. Newsrooms are investing in creating more video content to keep up with demand. Yet Public Relations practitioners still mainly only communicate with words.

In a new study by the Pew Research Center U.S. adults were surveyed about their digital video habits. According to the report almost two-thirds of U.S. adults now watch videos online and more than half of those (36%) watch news videos. This is up from 40% of U.S. adults who watched or downloaded any kind of video in 2007 and 26% who watched or downloaded news videos.

This trend chimes with demands of media in Australia, too. Mail Online’s Natalie Trombetta told corporate communication professionals at CommsCon in Sydney last month that her news site is always looking for “dynamic content” continuing “pictures should be part of the [PR pitch] package as standard”. As reported here last week the Mail Online has only been operating in Australia for five months, but has already claimed sixth spot in the Nielsen Online Ratings March survey which ranks top Australian sites by unique audience for news.

Digitisation has freed newspapers from the tyranny of pagination and with it the need to fit body text and headlines around images on a page. The differences between media channels have become blurred, too. If you watch Dominic White presenting a piece-to-camera on the Australian Financial Review news site and then listen to ABC’s Media Watch. Is one a podcast and the other a radio programme? Does it matter?

Claiming top spot in Nielsen’s most recent online report is News Corp Australia’s news.com.au. Compare this newspaper site with Australia’s state broadcaster abc.net.au . Both news websites represent a similar blend of text and image.

According to a survey conducted in March 2013 by Medianet, the commercial arm of Australia’s national news agency, 80% of journalists say they want multimedia included with press releases.

Similarly online newsroom provider Wieck Australasia surveyed 770 PROs and journalists. It found that 79% of media use images at least once a week.

Research by the Society of New Communicators – a US organisation – found that 83% of media regard images with content as important, (65% very important; 18% important) but only 38% of PR pros add images to news content. Fifty three per cent of media regard video with content as important (35% very important; 18% important).

Images should be integral to a brand’s communication mix. My analysis of Q1 2014 press release traffic in Australia shows <5% of content carries an image – moving or otherwise. This seems a lost opportunity at a time when media outlets are actively seeking visuals.

 

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