The technologic revolution of the past several decades along with the digitization of all things media over the last several years have transformed the way businesses and brands reach and engage with their audiences. The media service agencies supporting them have had to evolve right alongside, re-tooling and even completely re-inventing themselves.

Some moved swiftly to add and update their services while others struggled to keep up with the changing landscape. Whether tortoise or hare in the reinvention race, all PR professionals are keenly aware they must adapt to better serve their clients. We at 72Point are no different.

PR survey pioneers in the UK, we created an extremely, relevant, highly synergistic, multi-divisional media content business proposition in the early part of this century supporting our PR agency clients and brands on the quest for earned media exposure.

The heart of 72Point is and always will be national news content and editorial expertise. Our original business, South West News Service, the UK’s largest independent press agency, has been delivering hard-hitting news on a daily basis since 1978. We have a world-class editorial team at our fingertips and this means we have first-class news generation ideas, can create page-ready news copy, and have a direct channel to the powers in the media at our fingertips. And yet we had our own day of reckoning when we realized that in the new digital world, a survey and news copy would no longer be sufficient to satisfy the ever more diversified, primarily online media.

To keep up with the technology of the times and the needs of our evolving PR agency clients we began to more firmly integrate visual content services with our existing USPs and we urge you to do the same. We actively encourage our clients to think not only in terms of newsworthiness but to also think in terms of their target audience’s content consumption behaviors.

Videos, pictures, infographics, animations and interactives are no longer optional supplemental material for news stories, but are now emerging as the focal point for gaining earned media PR exposure with survey led news as the content driver with the news copy as a supporting player.

The idea of using visual content as the core of an initiative can be a joyful invitation to tap the creative fonts of many in the PR industry but daunting to others. Getting the most from your media outreach in today’s environment requires the same communications planning, strategy development and tactics but we urge you to think a bit differently –  visually. Here are some tips to get you started.

  • With every story or press release you send out, make sure you have painted a picture of what you are saying. Most people are visual learners and are likely to absorb more by watching a video, viewing an infographic or looking at a picture than by only reading text.

By creating or selecting images that clearly align with the content of the news copy, you have more editorial control as you determine the visuals that best support your story and you increase your chance of securing relevant coverage when the media outlets don’t have to do the extra work of finding the visuals their digital sites demand.

  • Decide which visuals make the most sense for each particular story – photos, infographics, live action videos, animations, interactives are all great on their own and in combination but the story you’re telling will determine which one(s) are appropriate for any given story.
  • Infographics: If you need to repurpose them an infographic is a great way to go. Infographics are perfect for highlighting key statistics supporting your survey driven news story headlines, and can be ‘sliced up’ into several bite-sized graphics making them ideal for sharing multiple times across any number of social channels.
  • Videos: If budget allows and the story calls for it, think video. The demand for online video is at all-time high and there is nothing out there to suggest the rapid growth we’ve witnessed thus far won’t continue for quite some time. News media want to maximize time spent on their site and they need a place for the video advertising they sell and need to attach as pre-roll to relevant video content. Your video is a great solution for both.

For the brand, the potential reach of a video is massive. A short, to the point, 90-second film is a powerful tool ready to be shared millions of times across websites and through social media channels. Like an infographic, a video can be re-purposed. It may be conceptualized as a means to securing media coverage for your story, but it can also be posted on your own site and used across your own social channels and as other marketing collateral

Word of caution – don’t over-brand your video. If a news content story supporting video looks like a paid advertisement, it – and likely the story – won’t land the coverage you seek.

  • Research: Keep doing it. A news story based on, or including, market research is more attention grabbing than one without. Survey-led stories have an edge – the statistics are quantifiable, the story has news credibility and a smart, funny, surprising, relevant topic for your survey will get you results with talk value translating to more earned media, more social-sharing, more impact

Digital is not the future, it’s the present and while text will always have a place in the digital landscape, visuals will be the driving force for maximizing coverage to boost a brand’s online presence.  A fully integrated initiative with strong visual content is a must.

And one last note – keep evolving. We will too!

72Point US recently sponsored the PRSA Conference; read Mindy’s fast5 Q and A, where she discusses content creation.

*This blog is adapted from a blog post originally posted on 72Point UK earlier this year (2016)