This is a monthly column written by WWPR member Beth Stewart.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Washington Women in Public Relations.

As a budding communications professional I often find myself in this balancing act between bringing rich, engaging content to my firm’s audience while also trying to stay current and entertaining in our ever evolving industry.  And something tells me even the seasoned communicator has the same issue.  We’ve all come across an infographic or two or even those enticing “listacles” on such infotainment sites as
BuzzFeed.  But does it really make sense to interpret one message in an infographic over video?  Or forgo a press release all together for an exciting image instead?  The reality is multimedia has transformed the way audiences are absorbing information and we as communicators need to understand how to hone in on this powerful tool.


To get a better grasp on using multimedia, last month I attended PR Newswire’s and the Business Development Institute’s forum on “Employing Visual Content for Compelling Storytelling.”  Speakers included:


  • Michael Pranikoff, Global Director, Emerging Media, PR Newswire
  • Larry Gamache, Communications Director, Carfax
  • Stacy Bowman, Director of Public Relations — Local Stakeholder Engagement, Sodexo
  • Kevin L. Rettle, Director, marketing, Insight and Innovation, Sodexo
  • Russ Radar, Senior Vice President, Communications, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
  • Amanda Ponzar, Director, Communications, United Way Worldwide
  • Ryan Smedstad, Director of Creative Services, Penske Truck Leasing
  • Peter LaMotte, Senior Vice President and Chair, Digital Communications Practice, LEVICK
  • Andrew McClellan, Creative Director and Senior Vice President, Fleishman-Hillard


Below were my biggest takeaways:


  • Keep your client’s goal in focus. It is easy to get wrapped up in the creativity of visual content but it means nothing in the end if you don’t stick to your company’s goal in the first place.


  • Infographics are still in. I often wondered if infographics were becoming stale for many viewers but much to my personal happiness, every panelist agreed infographics will be sticking around a little bit longer.  However, one panelist did shed some light on the fact that extremely long and large infographics are quite cumbersome and should be avoided.


  • Visual content should be one piece in the entire campaign puzzle. We can’t expect to rely on one content piece to tell the entire story.  It’s using a combination of tools and channels that will make us the most successful.


  • There is no secret button to make a piece of content go viral. The key is to simply create content that is valuable to your viewer and that will enlighten and make his or her day better.


While every speaker provided unique insight into employing visual content the greatest theme was the importance of using traditional media.  Traditional media doesn’t go out of the window just because we have more channels at our fingertips.  The key is to use a combination of tools to enhance our audience’s experience.