One thing PR pros hear a lot of these days is that they need to ramp up the level of multimedia elements/rich media that they include in their campaigns. But whether it’s due to a lack of measurement tools, budgetary constraints or simple inertia, there is a disconnect between the rhetoric and the reality when it comes to how communicators can make better use of things live video, audio, animation, gamifiication, slideshows and infographics in their overall messaging.
Indeed, roughly 56% of PR and marketing executives either “rarely” or “sometimes” include multimedia elements/rich media in their press releases, according to an exclusive study conducted by PR News and PR Newswire. Just 9% of respondents said that they “always” feature multimedia elements/rich media in their press releases, the study said.
It’s not like they don’t get the positive value of multimedia, either. Asked if they see a difference in the response rate between releases that include visual elements versus those that do not, 38% of the respondents said “sometimes,” 16% said “rarely” and 22% said “frequently.”
The online survey, which was conducted this summer, garnered a total of 452 responses. It focused on the degree to which PR pros include visual storytelling for both traditional and digital PR channels; the types of multimedia elements that are used for social-media platforms and the biggest stumbling blocks to enhancing the use of multimedia/visual elements for communications.
Similar to other new forms of communications, funding and a lack of resources remain the major barriers to including multimedia/visual elements in public relations efforts.
According to the survey, more than two-thirds of the respondents cited both factors—budget and resources—as the biggest stumbling blocks in ther visual storytelling efforts.
More than two-thirds of the respondents also cited time required for execution as an additional barrier.
A lack of budget, resources and time “seem to be on par with the pain points that our clients are facing,” said Kevin West, senior VP of multimedia at MultiVu, a PR Newswire company. He added that many marketing communications budgets remain “locked up in traditional methods of communicating and traditional content creation.”
But that may be changing, as market forces convince communicators of the need to control budgets in order to enhance multimedia content.
Asked who controls the budget for producing multimedia, 37% of the respondents said PR and corporate communications, while 38% said marketing, according to the survey.
THE TOP CHALLENGE
“It’s interesting that the budgets are now evenly split between PR and marketing,” West said, referring to the survey. “The fact is encouraging because there’s always been this perception that marketing always had control of budgets, so it presents an opportunity for PR people.”
And as PR pros start to budget for 2014, visual storytelling seems to be on the upswing for many.
According to the survey, 75% of the respondents said they plan to increase the level of visual storytelling and 19% said the level of visual storytelling would stay flat.
Just 1% of the respondents said that the level would decrease.
West stressed that the challenge for PR pros looking to land bigger budgets for multimedia storytelling is to educate senior managers on how rapidly the storytelling landscape is morphing.
“The role that the communicators can now play, with respect to visual storytelling, is explaining in detail the future possibilities of social capabilities and content creation and adding content to all of these new forms of storytelling, whether it’s Vine or Instagram,” he said.
He added, “A large education program is needed to communicate the benefits of visual storytelling and to facilitate getting that extra budget.”
Part of the problem with boosting visual storytelling is a lack of metrics: 56% of the respondents said they do not have reporting tools for senior managers to gauge the success of their company’s multimedia efforts. To make matters more difficult, 46% of the respondents said they report on their multimedia efforts on as needed/requested basis while 27% of the respondents said they report their efforts on a monthly basis.
“Right now [PR pros] are almost in a place where [tracking multimedia efforts] is not a must-do,” West said. “But within the next 12 to 18 months that will have changed to a must-have to ensure that they can provide value and justification to the multimedia budget they’re asking for.”
|1. How often do you include multimedia elements/rich media in your press releases?||Total|
|2. Do you see a difference in the response rate between releases that include visual elements and releases that do not?||Total|
|3. How would you characterize the quantity and frequency of online video that is used and shared in your messaging platforms and PR content?||Total|
|Overloaded - The volume may be too high||11|
|Underused - Would like to do more||357|
|Well-balanced - Enough to engage but not generate noise||73|
|4. How would you describe the overall use and inclusion of multimedia elements and visual storytelling in your social channels?||Total|
|5. Which multimedia elements are you using in the following social channels? (Check all that apply.)||YouTube||Google+|
|6 a. Select a combination from among the following social channels and multimedia elements (one channel and one multimedia element) that drives the most engagement.||Total|
|6 b. Multimedia elements||Total|
|7. Who controls the budget for producing multimedia content?||Total|
|PR and Corporate Communications||168|
|8. When planning for next year, will the level of visual storytelling:||Total|
|9. When planning for next year, will your budget for virtual storytelling:||Total|
|10. What are the biggest stumbling blocks to including multimedia/visual elements in your communications efforts? (Check all that apply.)|
|Access to Data||49|
|Lack of Adequate Content||126|
|Lack of Measurement Tools||69|
|Resistance from Clients||69|
|Time for Execution||267|
|11. How often do the PR/corporate communications and marketing teams collaborate on communications projects and campaigns?||Total|
|12. On which kinds of programs do your corporate and marketing communications teams collaborate best? Choose two.|
|Corporate Social Responsibility||72|
|13. Do you have sufficient and appropriate reporting tools and metrics to understand the success of your multimedia efforts?||Total|
|14. How do you report on your efforts to leaders and stakeholders?||Total|
|Ad hoc reports||144|
|15. How often do you report on your efforts to leaders and stakeholders?||Total|
Kevin West, firstname.lastname@example.org
This article appeared in the August 19 issue of PR News. Subscribe to PR News today to receive weekly comprehensive coverage of the most fundamental PR topics from visual storytelling to crisis management to media training.