10 Techniques for Crafting Interactive Press Releases That Pop

Best practices from Business Wire.

Business Wire Dell Picture CapsuleHashtags may be on the verge of becoming passé, but “hyperspotting” is in. The latter is one of several ways to make press releases more hi-tech, customized and effective, according to executives at Business Wire.

Sarah Shepard, Business Wire’s regional VP for New York, presented at Ragan Communications’ PR and Media Relations Summit in New York earlier this spring about creating multimedia press releases that gain traction. Recently we checked in with Shepard and her colleague, Scott Fedonchik, VP of marketing, for more on the latest updates. Below are their top 10 tips.

1. Create multidimensional releases

It takes 20 touchpoints to convert a prospect, according to Shepard–so adding multimedia elements to press releases increases the odds of higher traffic and viewers taking action. As a PRNewser post noted a couple of years ago, text-only press releases are less likely to break through the clutter.

In terms of engagement metrics, Fedonchik reported that Business Wire ran an analysis of 12 of their news capsule campaigns (more on that format later) that appeared on their wire in the past 90 days. It turned out that on average viewers spent over 6 minutes engaging with this multimedia content, which is a considerable amount given the time-strapped media audience.

2. Understand new SEO results and headlines’ role

Optimizing headlines and body copy is still critical as well as adopting practices based on the impact of recent developments. Now that Google is including press releases in search results, Shepard said using the right keywords is important. Brand names should appear in headlines wherever possible.

3. Audit your assets

During the early stages of creating a multimedia release, it’s best to take stock of all brand or company communications materials that may be incorporated. Assets may include: blogs, podcasts, webinars, infographics, visualizations, photos, audio files, videos, product images, demos, presentations, reports, maps, events, logos, memes and FAQs. As Fedonchik noted, these may be PDFs and other downloadable items that journalists can use when developing a multimedia story.

4. Make experts availableBusiness Wire Best Buy Home Theatre TV Cropped

Shepard also recommended organizing a roster of experts at the company to have on hand as sources for quotes, along with their bios and short videos of their event appearances. These can also serve as useful resources for reporters.

5. Learn the latest digital tools

Hyperspotting is a valuable press release feature involving the addition of contextual links (resembling arrowheads) into an image. They provide viewers with additional content, as Fedonchik explained. When readers hover their mouse over the areas, videos and product descriptions appear and social sharing capabilities are enabled. Hyperspotting is used in news and picture capsules. An example is Wyndham Hotel Group.

News capsules are also handy devices to incorporate into press releases. Shepard described them as portable microsites that are easy to embed with different interactive tabs. They provide multimedia experiences by adding documents like reports, photos, videos, and links to social media and websites. Examples include Six Flags and Shell.

Picture capsules use similar capabilities, with the focus on visuals. They can make static images interactive by adding rich content like photos and videos. Once viewers click on the areas, the images display (Best Buy home theatre TV, pictured). Other examples include Dell and MasterCard.

6. Keep content short and sweet

See what your audience watches in long-form on platforms like YouTube and shorten it, Shepard advised. Fewer than 3 minutes is best.

7. Add visuals to tweetsBusiness Wire MasterCard Picture Capsule

Photos take up more space, so press release related tweets with visuals are more likely to be noticed and shared.

8. Use numbers

Numerals (1,2,3, etc.) improves viewer engagement, according to Shepard.

9. Measure ROI

Individual press release elements can be monitored to assess their impact on ROI. One might compare phrases, like press release vs. news release.  Short URLs, or clicks to tweet, can be created to check engagement. Other trackable metrics: increases in awareness, visibility, social impact, influencer activation, reader reaction, geo-location and message adoption. As Fedonchik noted, Business Wire recently introduced reports to assess the influence of news releases on stock market performance.

10. Review examples

Business Wire has amassed many examples of multimedia press releases that have deftly incorporated many of these features, including those cited above.

Overall Takeaway: Clearly multimedia press releases require more advance planning than standard text releases. Still, news and picture capsules are the wave of the future, while text-only releases will soon be relegated to time capsules.

Images courtesy of Dell, Intel, Best Buy and MasterCard