How To…Build A Multimedia Press Release

If press releases are one of the founding tenets of traditional PR, then multimedia press releases are the wave of current development. Thanks to the explosive growth of new media, as well as the waning attention spans of information consumers, print-only releases are working harder than ever to inform and intrigue. The age-old weak points of print releases - information overload, dull headlines, key facts buried at the bottom, irrelevant news - still remain, but many of them can be put to rest by incorporating multimedia components into the original product. Here's how:

Know the lingo. Multimedia releases should contain at least some of the following (see sidebar for a complete list): live links to blogs, relevant news coverage and relevant blog posts; visuals like photos, video files or descriptive graphics; RSS feeds; and a "tagging" feature, a la Technorati or Digg. But knowing what all these things are before incorporating them is key. Many are self- explanatory, but the devil is in the details.

For example, when including executive headshots or event photographs, make sure that the resolution is at least 300 dpi: that stands for "dots per inch," and it measures printer resolution. Anything less than that is often too low-res for print publications.

Then, consider the tagging devices. A Technorati tag is a keyword or category used to describe the subject matter or topic. It categorizes and bookmarks terms for future searches, which in turn contributes to referrals to the release. In a similar vein, Digg is a combination of social book-marking, blogging and syndication; the user-generated-content site allows users to submit stories/releases, and they are ranked based on reader feedback. A press release that has a "Digg this" tag will begin compiling click-throughs, and the more clicks it gets, the higher up on the Digg site it will be featured.

Be germane. Don't pile information and multimedia features into a release just for their own sake. Rather, include items that are endemic to the nature of the story. If you are announcing a promotion, include a jpeg of the executive, as well as quotes from him or her and his or her direct report, and perhaps a sound bite of a recent speech/press conference. If you are announcing the release of a new product, include a video clip of it in action. (Makers of Blendtec Blenders did an outstanding job of this with their viral videos demonstrating the blender's ability to pulverize everything from golf balls to iPods - just imagine the YouTube pick-up.)

Don't forget the basics. Contact information, company information, key facts ... you know the drill, but it's easy to forget when you are focused on the bright and shiny multimedia features. Also, given the new-media age, consider including the following under contact information: instant-messaging screen name, Web site and, if you have one, a Skype address. (Skype is a free Voip [voice over Internet protocol] solution that enables users to make local and international phone calls over the Internet at no charge. It is useful for companies that have offices or clients around the world who are looking for an inexpensive way to communicate. It's also good for executives who are on the road but have access to the Internet.)

Keep it clean. Multimedia press releases are susceptible to information overload, so keep design in mind to minimize clutter.

Multimedia Press Release 'Must-Haves'

Traditional Press Release Components:

Contact information for the client, the agency and the spokesperson (include name, title, email, phone number, IM address (if one exists)

A short, attention-grabbing headline with keywords that are likely to be searched

Essential facts in bullet format for easy digestion

Quotes from relevant senior managers to be used in media coverage, with full attributions (names, companies, titles)

Corporate information

"2-D" Visual Components:

High-resolution (300+ dpi) jpegs of press-release subject: headshot of executives, photos from an event, shots of a product, etc.

Company logo

Graphs/charts if applicable

"3-D" Visual-Audio Components:

Links to digital videos: product demonstrations, interviews, speeches, news clips

Links to YouTube/social networking clips/online ads, if appropriate

Links to an audio file/podcast

Embedded-Hyperlink Components:

Links to downloadable executive summaries, white papers, speech transcripts, etc., when applicable

Link to company Web site

Link to corporate blog

Links to recent news coverage of the press-release subject

Technorati and "Digg This" tags

RSS feeds to client/corporate news releases