Behold a new breed: The interactive press release

By: Brian Pittman
Published: Friday, Mar. 13, 2015

We’ve all heard about the demise of the press release. Yet, like the phoenix, it has re-emerged, with renewed vigor—because it has taken on a new form.

How? By becoming interactive.

Do you want wider reach for your news? Want more media hits? Then stop sabotaging your news with boring, text-only press releases.

Instead you should give editors, audiences and search engines what they crave: compelling visuals and interactivity.

Watch the PR University webinar, “Breakthrough press releases: 7 ways to create interactive news releases that get wider reach.”

Here are three quick, preliminary tips courtesy of webinar presenter Serena Ehrlich, director of social and evolving media at Business Wire:

1. Give editors plug-and-play content. Business Wire research shows that releases with images or video receive three times more engagement and impressions than plain-text news. That’s hardly a surprise: Visual learners constitute almost 65 percent of the world’s population. If you want to activate prospects and customers with your news, include images. The upshot? Text-only releases no longer work.

Similarly, the AP distributes Business Wire releases to thousands of media subscribers. “The AP told us in a recent webinar that their subscribers rarely look at releases—unless they contain multimedia,” Ehrlich says. “Every outlet—even radio stations—has a website that requires images,” she explains. Her advice is clear: Multimedia content is now essential. “Include an image or video with every release. It will boost media pickup and contribute to better SEO.”

2. Build a narrative arc with multiple photos. According to a recent Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers report, 1.8 billion photos are uploaded and shared every day. So how do you ensure your images attract editors?

Ehrlich’s advice: Don’t use text to communicate the usual story arc (e.g., “We launched X product and shared it with Y market, and Z was the result”), and don’t just include a simple photo of your product. Instead, depict the same story visually with a series of photos that:

Show the product being created.
Show the being shipped or distributed.
Show the product being used by the customer.
She also advises keeping backgrounds uncluttered, framing shots before snapping photos and ditching frontal headshots in favor of fresh, unexpected perspectives.

3. Upgrade static images with interactivity. Engagement with releases also increases whenever editors and others can click on hyperlinks, Ehrlich says. That’s why Business Wire recently added Picture Capsules and News Capsules (like this one for a Hasbro release) to its offerings. These capsules employ overlay technology, which allows for the placement of customized icons on digital images that, when hovered over, open links to additional content.

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These capsules give journalists, consumers and other influencers multiple content files, including videos, audio, documents, images, social media sharing and links to other websites, all within a single image.

“The average time that readers are engaging with these multimedia assets is now approaching 10 minutes,” Ehrlich says. “That’s a huge amount of time to engage with a release or news item, with clear benefits for both the company and the media outlet. Comparatively, a whole text release or news item can be scanned in 30 seconds.”

For more press release tips and secrets, watch PR University’s webinar, “Breakthrough press releases: 7 ways to create interactive news releases that get wider reach.” This training event will be co-presented by Business Wire’s Serena Ehrlich and Michael Smart, founder of MichaelSMART PR.

Brian Pittman is a consultant to Ragan Communications and manages PR Daily’s PR University webinars. A veteran marketer and journalist in the PR field, he is also a former editor of Utah Business magazine and a produced screenwriter.

Behold a new breed: The interactive press release

By: Brian Pittman
Published: Friday, Mar. 13, 2015

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