Q: Are businesses behind the times re: multimedia news content?

March 26, 2010

By @Olivia_at_O

The way we read and report information security news is changing, but according to UK-based press release distribution company RealWire, some businesses and PR professionals have catching up to do.

RealWire, which specialises in online news aggregation, recently published some intriguing statistics on the usage of multimedia within press releases sent out over newswires.

The Countdown team found RealWire’s analysis compelling, especially for the ICT industry. With the 14th annual Infosecurity Europe quickly approaching, now is the time to get an edge over your competition by embracing more innovative ways of sharing company news.

RealWire’s analysis, based upon nearly 3,000 press releases distributed across six newswires in early December 2009, found that only 13 per cent of the press releases included at least one image.  A scant 2 per cent included audio, video or other social media content.

Adam Parker, RealWire’s Chief Executive, suggested the results implied a lack of multimedia planning and collaboration between marketing professionals from different disciplines. Parker also cited an apparent “skills gap” where audio and video creation were concerned.

However, I believe what Parker called a “skills gap” might be better referred to as a “time lag” as businesses adjust their mindsets and begin transitioning to more dynamic and interactive ways of experiencing and reporting the news. Amid all the excitement and promise of social media, it can be easy to forget that it is still a relatively new phenomenon. Twitter is only four years old; YouTube is five; Facebook is six. We’re in the preschool years. It would be mightily unreasonable, in my opinion, to expect the business world to change its PR approach as quickly as journalists change their reporting styles. So while Twitter and WordPress are now the trusted friends of many journalists (especially those in ICT), I think it’s only natural that we experience a time lag as businesses adjust their mindsets accordingly, and begin devoting the time and resources to making the transition.

So I was not as discouraged by these statistics as RealWire was. As an increasing number of businesses and marketing professionals begin adopting multimedia content such as video and audio in their press releases, I expect we’ll see a flurry of competition—bringing with it innovation—in how public relations will be approached in the future. Over time, the apparent “skills gap” or “time lag” will start to close. This is not something that should happen overnight, and it is well worth reminding ourselves that we are still in the early days.

But Parker was right when he said, “as an industry we need to address these challenges so we can enhance the creativity of our storytelling.”

It is our challenge, as public relations and marketing professionals, to take the first steps by persuading our clients to explore these new modes of communicating and experiencing the news—before the competition beats them to it. This is an excellent opportunity to rise above the others and get some marketing competitive advantage.

Never fear. The Countdown team will be covering multimedia in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for tips on how you can make your news more lively, dynamic and interactive.

Or share your thoughts with the team at countdown@launchpad-europe.com (or of course on Twitter @launchpadeurope)

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