Deconstructing new media: Five ways to show and tell

March 3, 2010

Harvey Levin beat me to the punch. Nightly, “TMZ’s” host challenges a group of 20-something producers to give him the story. He pushes and prods. Laughs and cajoles. I often think our in-house media meetings at Gregory FCA would make similarly great TV, as we challenge each another to find and frame the story, and serve it up.

That serve is increasingly visual. Even print media today wants visuals to spur Web traffic. It can be a video, photo slide show, narrated PowerPoint, or animation. And for their online properties, print media wants the attention-grabbing visuals that engage and hold their audiences.

Rich Levin, our crack Editor-in-Chief and social media director, is the best I’ve ever worked with in delivering visuals. Collaborating with Kate Richie, one of our top media placement pros, they approached Fritz Nelson at InformationWeek with a challenge: Video our client creating an enterprise application in five minutes, without programming. It’s something their editors have never seen before. So it was a good story presented to the right person at InformationWeek.

InformationWeek loved the idea. The resulting video is worth more than a thousand words (or clicks).

It also got me thinking about what you should know about the visual side of an evolving media landscape. Here are my tips for using visuals in media campaigns.

1. Visuals drive readership. Even traditional media, such as BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Fortune, now want online visuals. They will use them to leverage their print coverage by pushing readers to their Web site to see a procedure, view a product, or experience a slide show.

2. Corporate B2B videos and animations now have new life. You can use what was once strictly a sales tool as crucial part of a media campaign. Whereas old-school, traditional media was loath to include a submitted photo in their print story, new media will accept visuals for Web content if they enhance the storytelling.

3. The visual might just be the story.
In a holiday electronics story we handled for one client, the online slide show of cool devices that we created was crucial to the campaign’s success. By working a bit of SEO magic and encouraging media covering the story to point back to our slide show, we were able to drive thousands of hits to our photos. In a green technology story we developed for another client, the number of inbound visits to a related video exceeded 21,000 after it was featured on a top technology blog.

4. Visuals are key to social media campaigns. As Mike Lizun, a Senior Vice President at Gregory FCA, often says, “Do as the media does, and you will get results for your client.” If the media is using more online visual content, then you should too, in blog posts, comments, and other social media avenues.

5. A good story is always first. Remember, however, this doesn’t throw the No. 1 rule of the media out the window: Tell a good story. If the media thinks an idea is a good story, they usually determine how many different ways they want to cover it … print, online, and increasingly, with videos and slide shows. Be prepared to tell your good story in all of those ways.

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