The art of storytelling has long been part of the public relations craft. It is up to the PR team to weave a tale where the buyer is the hero, the problem or issue is the villain and a vendor plays the role of a trusted advisor or mentor helping the hero in their quest, providing them with the tools to achieve their objective and save the day. This buyer-centered storyline is particularly important in the highly competitive (and often difficult to understand) B2B technology landscape, where big money and big reputations are on the line.

Competition continues to intensify while, simultaneously, attention spans are becoming shorter, and the way people prefer to receive information has shifted. We now know that the brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than the time it takes for the brain to decode text; therefore, we are now placing a higher value on visual content over written, and the age-old method of storytelling has transformed into storyshowing. As a result, visual content marketing strategies are top priorities for marketers this year, but what people may not realize is that this need for visual aids is not limited to conveying a concept to a potential buyer.

Newspapers are shrinking and publications are disappearing. Today’s journalist is busier than ever, covering multiple beats and trying to keep up with the demand for immediacy the Internet has created. This has turned B2B tech PR into an oftentimes fierce competition, and capturing the attention of these journalists can be just as challenging as closing a deal. Words alone are not enough. Or rather, words are too much to clearly articulate a story. Incorporating images, graphics and videos into media outreach increases your chances of catching a journalist’s eye, ensures the technology is understood and ultimately leads to better coverage.

How can visual content be incorporated into media outreach?

The Company Introduction

Is this the first time the company has reached out to a particular journalist? Rather than just sending your standard “meet and greet” pitch, create a personalized video featuring the CEO and brief background on the company. This is the first step to becoming a resource, thought leader and trust advisor. By including a video you will not only grab the recipient’s attention, but also illustrate that the company is serious about forming and investing in a long-term relationship with the journalist, and by extension, the journalist’s readers.

The Product Launch

Far too often B2B marketers fall into the habit of telling a story where the product is positioned as the hero. This places the product at the center of the story with everything else in its orbit – the problem, the goal and the buyer – when the buyer should be the focus of the adventure. The buyer is the one making the decision to purchase, after all, and let’s be honest: don’t we all want to be the hero at the end of the day?

Furthermore, it is important to give the role of the hero to the buyer because the buyer is also the reader. When approaching a journalist, you must always keep the reader in mind and make sure your story is relevant and appealing to the journalist’s audience. We have already established that the way people prefer to receive information has shifted. There is a higher value placed on visual content versus long-form text, so why not approach the journalist with the visual content he or she will need to appeal to his or her reader and your buyer?

Create a comic strip, infographic, SlideShare or video to visually tell the story you wish to convey. Sending this visual content embedded within a pitch (or perhaps in lieu of a pitch) will enable you to take the journalist on a visual journey, help him or her understand the product and why it is significant to his or her readers. Include a call to action within the story to prompt the journalist to request more information or (hopefully) a briefing.

The Press Release

According to research from HubSpot’s former social media scientist Dan Zarrella, adding visual content to a press release can increase engagement by 55 percent for videos and 18 percent for images. Take this concept a step further and rethink how you distribute press releases. Don’t just blast out the release; provide journalists with a complete package. Include a shareable headline, shortened link to the release and a social media friendly image or video. Or take it even one step further by including a ClickToTweet link to the press release.

Whether your client wants to admit it or not, not every announcement will result in numerous briefings. But by providing a journalist with everything he or she needs to quickly fire off the news via his or her social channels, you can easily increase your odds of getting the word out when a full article just isn’t in the cards. This demonstrates respect for the journalist’s time (which every journalist can appreciate) and the patience of a true mentor, while simultaneously remaining in the peripheral for both the journalist and reader when guidance is needed.

Not a photographer, graphic designer or filmmaker?

No problem. Social media agency Laundry Service has found that Instagram-style photos perform far better than glossy, in-studio stock photos. Traditional photos had a 2.35 percent click-through rate while organic-looking images had rates as high as eight percent. Furthermore, tools from Adobe Color to Canva to Vine have made creating visual content accessible to even the most creatively-challenged. These tools also make it possible to produce visual content quickly, easily and inexpensively. (Bonus: The visual content created for media outreach can also be used on social channels.)

Having trouble getting the media’s attention?

Don’t forget that journalists are people too and their preferred method of consuming information has also likely shifted along with the rest of us. Incorporating visual content into your outreach can only increase the chances your story will be heard, seen and, most importantly, understood.