Study: Audiences favor press releases with visuals

Adding multimedia content can increase by nearly tenfold the likelihood that your online pitch will be opened and viewed.


Want more people to view your press releases?

Include more visual elements in them—doing so can increase the visibility of a press release by nearly 10 times, according to a new study by PR Newswire.

“If you include some sort of visual [in your release], you’re going to get better results,” PR Newswire’s Sarah Skerik told PR Daily.

To conduct the study, PR Newswire looked at 100,000 press releases published in 2011 and 2012 and tracked views and content. According to Skerik, a press release is “viewed” when someone clicks on a headline and opens the press release, regardless of whether it came via email, social media, RSS, search engine, or the PR Newswire website.

Press releases that include a photo are 1.8 times as likely (an 80 percent increase, if you prefer) to be viewed as their text-only counterparts, the study found. Inclusion of a video makes the likelihood 4.3 times as much as for a standard release. Press releases with photos and videos are viewed 7.4 times as often as text-only releases.

Releases with pictures, video, and downloadable content (such as PowerPoints and PDFs) were 9.7 times as likely to be viewed.

When a press release contains a visual element, the image will appear in the body of the release as well as in a thumbnail accompanying the headline in a search engine, email, or Facebook post, Skerik explained.

Skerik said the big lesson for PR professionals is that people are attracted to visuals.

“Content that has imagery naturally draws the eye on the page,” she said, adding that search engines rank content with visuals higher than text-only stories. “If you leave them out of your campaigns, you’re doing your audience a big disservice.”

Underscoring the importance of visuals is a shift in audiences for press releases.

According to a 2010 Forrester study, which explored the motivations of people looking at releases on PR Newswire, one-fifth of the visitors were journalists or bloggers. Others visited the site to research a possible investment or product, or to explore ways to promote a business.

“This environment in which communicators operate is continuing to radically shift, ” Skerik said. “It’s very much driven by our audience preferences, so our communications strategies should be driven by their preferences and behavior.”

The study marks the second year PR Newswire has compared visual content against text-only releases. In 2011, it found that multimedia press releases grabbed 77 percent more views.

RELATED: How to make your next PR pitch POP with art

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