Lack of Resources is Cited as a Barrier to Multimedia Storytelling

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.


“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
Always 39
Frequently 102
Never 45
Rarely 122
Sometimes 139
(blank) 5
Grand Total 452
2. Do you see a difference in the response rate between releases that include visual elements and releases that do not? Total
Always 47
Frequently 101
Never 45
Rarely 72
Sometimes 173
(blank) 14
Grand Total 452
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
(blank) 11
Grand Total 452
4. How would you describe the overall use and inclusion of multimedia elements and visual storytelling in your social channels? Total
Average 155
Excellent 57
Fair 126
Poor 69
Virtually nonexistent 38
(blank) 7
Grand Total 452
5. Which multimedia elements are you using in the following social channels? (Check all that apply.) YouTube Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Pinterest Instagram
Articles 41 322 311 257 110 38 15
Audio 49 42 44 24 17 3 5
Infographics 39 161 145 99 48 60 24
Photos 70 364 281 166 103 174 163
Videos 366 256 192 101 74 39 49
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
Facebook 220
Google+ 7
Instagram 7
LinkedIn 53
Pinterest 4
Twitter 86
YouTube 56
(blank) 19
Grand Total 452
6 b. Multimedia elements Total
Articles 110
Audio 5
Infographics 29
Photos 168
Video 117
(blank) 23
Grand Total 452
7. Who controls the budget for producing multimedia content? Total
Marketing 172
Other 92
PR and Corporate Communications 168
Product 2
Sales 4
(blank) 14
Grand Total 452
8. When planning for next year, will the level of visual storytelling: Total
Decrease 5
Increase 342
Stay Flat 88
(blank) 17
Grand Total 452
9. When planning for next year, will your budget for virtual storytelling: Total
Decrease 16
Increase 219
Stay Flat 203
(blank) 14
Grand Total 452
10. What are the biggest stumbling blocks to including multimedia/visual elements in your communications efforts? (Check all that apply.)
Access to Data 49
Budget 256
Lack of Adequate Content 126
Lack of Measurement Tools 69
Resistance from Clients 69
Resources 278
Talent 125
Time for Execution 267
11. How often do the PR/corporate communications and marketing teams collaborate on communications projects and campaigns? Total
Always 127
Frequently 141
Never 8
Rarely 40
Sometimes 111
(blank) 25
Grand Total 452
12. On which kinds of programs do your corporate and marketing communications teams collaborate best? Choose two.
Corporate Social Responsibility 72
Events 289
Research 76
Speaking Opportunities 86
Sponsorships 99
Thought Leadership 119
Releases 237
Research 76
13. Do you have sufficient and appropriate reporting tools and metrics to understand the success of your multimedia efforts? Total
No 255
Yes 187
(blank) 10
Grand Total 452
14. How do you report on your efforts to leaders and stakeholders? Total
Ad hoc reports 144
Dashboard 81
Other 61
Standardized reports 152
(blank) 14
Grand Total 452
15. How often do you report on your efforts to leaders and stakeholders? Total
As needed/requested 211
Monthly 123
Other 37
Quarterly 73
(blank) 8
Grand Total 452


Kevin West,

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.