As an editor at PR Newswire, I have to read and proof-read many press releases on a daily basis. Among these press releases, only those that have interesting story angles or incorporate unique images into the storytelling make a lasting impression in my mind.
Including images in press releases is now a norm and the numbers are on the uptrend. According to a study on press releases distributed by PR Newswire, press releases with multimedia elements can improve the result of communications with the number of press release views increased by 1.4 times as compared to those that are just pure-text. In addition to that, based on “Journalists’ Working Status and News Gathering Habits in Asia-Pacific” survey report released by PR Newswire in 2016, 14% of the 482 survey respondents looked out for multimedia assets in the press releases they received.
Having said that, do all images have a positive impact on the distribution result? Here are three tips when incorporating images in your content:
Tip 1: Do not use image that does not allow readers to make direct association with the content of the press release and the company that is issuing it.
Looking at this image, can you tell which company issued the press release? A miner, a bank or a jeweler?
As it turns out the press release was issued by a mint, announcing that it has secured a license to sell gold/silver bars and cast coins in line with the Islamic gold standards. The image is relevant when it is viewed in context with the press release, but if the image is taken out of context, it is impossible to associate the source of the release to a mint. The issuing company can be a miner, a bank or a jeweler. Furthermore, a random search with the keywords “gold bar” and “coin” yields many similar images.
Similarly, by looking at the image below, is it possible to know the industry of the company that is issuing the press release? A technology company commenting on latest industry trends? New services provided by an e-commerce provider? Or could it be a new product launch by a tablet manufacturer?
This image comes from a press release issued by a private credit rating company specializing in data analysis. Its survey findings suggest that most Asian banks will pull out cooperation with suppliers who fail to pass safety review. The message that the photo tries to convey is “online security review”. The image does not allow readers to identify the source of company and there is no visible connection between the image and news source.
Therefore, vague generic images that are not directly indicative of the source should not be included in press releases as they may be rejected for distribution.
Tip 2: Data, charts and rankings: Decide on a suitable range of data to be used, leverage statistical charts to integrate large numbers, and pay attention to copyright issues
Data, charts and ranking lists are frequently incorporated into press releases. Sometimes charts are used to make numbers less cumbersome for readers to digest. However, never overload your press releases with numbers! Only data directly related to the press release should be included in charts, otherwise it will be counterproductive.
The image above is a good example of using a chart to highlight key data. The news source comes from a network security firm which issued a press release on a research report about trends and analysis on web application attacks based on data collected by web firewalls in 2016. The data was intuitively and clearly presented in a stacked bar chart, showing web attack trends vary greatly from industry to industry – the vertical axis represents the industries covered by the research and the horizontal axis specifies numbers of online attacks detected in different industries as a percentage of the total, with the total average indicated in the top bar.
Earning results from public-listed companies can also be easily and clearly represented by the chart below:
In this release, client uses a stacked column chart to represent the hotel business revenue generated from respective hotel properties before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.
What about a ranking list that the company has a position in it? In this release, the client announces the rankings of universities in the world. The full list contains 959 universities but the press release only includes the rankings of top 20 universities.
The data featured in the release is a reasonable range. It will be impossible to include the entire list in the press release as it will impact the overall reading experience negatively. One of the key highlights mentioned in the release is that the rankings of Australia’s universities continue to rise and the Australian National University is in the twentieth position. Therefore, using this image strengthens the release’s key message.
If two or more key messages need to be included in the press release and only one chart can be distributed along with it, an alternate solution is to embed a hyperlink in the release and direct readers to the ranking website for further reading.
However, do note that using third-party images without prior authorization and consent may lead to copyright disputes. It is therefore advisable for company to create its own tables and charts. Similarly, releases which contain images that may have infringed copyright will be rejected for distribution.
Tip 3: Infographics: Images should facilitate the delivery of the message. The fewer words used, the better
Infographics are another type of image commonly used in press releases to help visualize abstract concepts. It is easier and faster to gather information from an infographic than to understand it from reading the text. Humans only need 0.15 seconds to recognize a symbol and another 0.1 seconds to understand its meaning. Infographics combine both text and images which attract readers’ attention and help them remember and digest information presented in an interesting way.
The key to using infographics is to keep the design simple and concise. It defeats the purpose if the infographic includes a massive number of charts and text. Do you prefer reading texts instead of getting information from the image below?
So how can we deliver messages in a simple but powerful way? The image below is a good example:
The press release was issued by a technology firm explaining how the company became a leading industry player in the fast-growing Indian market after launching a popular digital interaction platform. The infographic clearly illustrates the three advantages of its digital platform: Cross Platform, Group Sharing and Amazing Speed.
The infographic includes simple and easy-to-understand text for readers to comprehend easily and quickly.
As the old Chinese saying goes, water can carry a boat, but can also capsize it. Multimedia elements in a press release are like a double-edged sword. When used appropriately, they are powerful tools for creating powerful and interesting press releases. So, the next time when you want to include an image in a press release, make sure you have optimized its potential to the fullest.
This original blog was written in Chinese by Karina Leung. Karina is an Editor at PR Newswire. She graduated from Department of Journalism at Hong Kong Baptist University, majored in Broadcast Journalism. Karina joined PR Newswire in August 2015 and she likes words.