As a PR person, you know it's time to focus on multimedia when daily newspapers start posting Hollywood-style trailers on YouTube to attract readers. This two-minute promo for the Dallas Morning News series "Unequal Justice" is extremely well-made, and is backed not only by a five-part print investigation into killers released on probation, but also by an excellent multimedia section on

What this should tell you is obvious: If print communication alone is no longer sufficient for print publications, it probably isn't sufficient for you, either.
If you'd like some supporting data for this conclusion, here are a few bullet points and percentages:

  • Most Web users watch online video today. In fact, 1 in 5 say they stream video every day. (Source: Pew Internet)
  • Americans don't get their news from static print sources anymore. Only 13 percent say they get their news from newspapers and magazines, compared to 40 percent who use the Internet and 32 percent who watch TV. (Source: Zogby)
  • The media has a high demand for video content. Use of video by newspaper Web sites is expected to double over the next 12 months. (Source: Borrell Associates)

Video, audio and images can improve your PR program in two basic ways. First, they help you tell your story better, by making it more compelling and easier to understand. Second, they help you promote your story better, by incorporating new channels (such as YouTube and Flickr) for reaching the media, your customers and other audiences.
Multimedia should be a higher priority for some companies than others. For example, if your product has strong potential for television/radio coverage (cosmetic medical technologies are a great example), you should definitely post video to your Web site and include VNRs or b-roll with your media distributions. Additionally, all companies with a customer base of heavy Web users, or who generate a significant portion of their revenues through the Web, should be adding video to the mix.
For companies that fall into these categories, multimedia offers three compelling benefits:

    1. It can attract television/radio coverage to your story. Creating a video to tell your story shows that it can translate to non-print media. For companies on a budget, posting and distributing a YouTube video can be just as effective as old-school VNRs and satellite media tours -- and much, much less expensive. For companies who wish to showcase an expert for radio or television appearances, starting a podcast is a great way to establish your expert's credibility and experience. A TV producer considering your expert for a segment can use the podcast to vet that individual's broadcast skills.
    2. It can drive organic traffic to your Web site. Videos and images do well in Google searches. Having multimedia content on YouTube, Google Video, Flickr and other outlets gives Web users more ways to find your company. And by tagging your videos and images with your SEO keywords, you will be more likely to place highly in searches for these terms.
    3. It can help build and sustain your company's brand online. If your brand's standing among heavy Web users is important, adding video shows that you are keeping up with how they obtain information online. Another way to put it: If your communication methods are out of date, what does that say about your company's product?

OK -- so now that you're sold on adding multimedia to your PR program, where should you begin? Here are four baby steps for getting started:

    1. Think visual. Have a brainstorming session to identify the elements of your company/product story that would most benefit from visuals.
    2. Begin adding short videos to your Web site. Product demos, CEO interviews, you name it -- but keep it under two minutes.
    3. Start YouTube and Flickr accounts. Post (or repost) relevant images and videos to drive more traffic to your Web site.
    4. Learn the ropes before treading into the world of wacky viral videos. Until you know what you're doing, it's probably not worth the risk.

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Simple Steps for Adding Multimedia to Your PR Program

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image of Scott Baradell

Scott Baradell is CEO of Idea Grove, a unified PR and marketing agency based in Dallas.

LinkedIn: Scott Baradell

Twitter: @DallasInbound