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Five Questions About Visually Engaging Your Audience

Five Questions About Visually Engaging Your Audience

This month, as part of our Five Questions series, we’ve asked Universal Information Services Vice President Todd Murphy to share his thoughts on how businesses can ensure that the photos, videos and other content they use in their digital marketing efforts are making a meaningful connection with their audience.

1. Universal Information Services has been in business for over 100 years. How has the way brands use media content changed in that time? And how has it changed since you personally have been in the industry?

Todd Murphy, Vice President of Universal Information ServicesFundamentally, brands are still very interested in the impact they have on their target consumer. What has changed is the level of sophistication we’ve developed in informing them of their impact.

With social media, people are able to create messaging and shape behavior in new ways. Traditional media may generate a story that is amplified through social media. Conversely, social media may spark a discussion that eventually reaches a big enough wave that the traditional media covers it.

Where success used to be simply measured by volume of story placement, we can now tell our clients what specific messages are resonating, or not. We can show clients specific and actionable insight that lets them modify their PR or marketing campaigns in real-time. Since I’ve been with the company, our focus has turned to delivering real and accurate insight for our clients so that we can statistically demonstrate what messages are resonating with the media and — possibly more importantly — which messages are creating a secondary discussion.

2. How do the companies you work with use their visual and media content to create engagement?

Beyond our media monitoring services, our digital preservation services are helping leverage historic media. Many of our clients are tuned in to the value of their documents. Here in Omaha, I can look out my office window and see several companies that have been here for generations. Their archives not only tell the story of the company, but of the city. That is certainly something that people can relate to and engage with, and we encourage these organizations to utilize that media. Restoring their assets to a digital format does this.

But there are ways for younger companies to use their existing content as well, and the more visual, the better. Human nature wires us to pay attention to specific colors, sounds and images more so than other inputs. Engagement does increase when a PR effort reflects that.

3. How does a company know what content to post?

The data shows us is that there is not a single silver bullet that always works. Using best practices — including a high level of authenticity and credibility — can improve your engagement. Where most efforts go wrong is in discounting the effect human nature has on their content. We see that sometimes with younger companies. They have these great ideas for campaigns, but they get caught up in tactics and forget how people actually consume information. Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should do it. Measuring the impact and outcomes of your efforts is still – and always will be – critical to the success of an ongoing PR or marketing campaign.

4. What are some of the things brands should keep in mind when creating or archiving content that they want to be able to use for years to come (i.e. making sure it stands the test of time)?

I’ve mostly spoken from the perspective of measuring the effectiveness of PR and marketing campaigns. This question crosses between both our media measurement services and digital preservation service we offer to institutions. When restoring historical documents so they can be leveraged now and in the future, it is imperative to consider the format in which the data will be consumed: the easiest way for the consumer to receive and use the digitally recovered media.

Similarly, PR and marketing efforts need to make sure they aren’t making it difficult to consume the content they create. No matter how compelling that link bait headline may be, most will give up if they have to jump through too many hoops to view the content.

Media content and digitized media both must be easy to store, use and manage if it is to be useful and valuable.

5. You specialize in corporate organization, copyright law, and U.S. legislation affecting the use of media. Are there any special considerations every business should be aware of when leveraging existing media for engagement?

When it comes to posting online, using your own original content is best, if you can. If one doesn’t have the means to create their own images, video or other multimedia assets, licensing that content is critical in order to avoid a potential problem from the original content owner. We’ve seen many organizations get in trouble by dropping an image into a blog that they have pulled from Google Images or some other website. There are fewer concerns when information is only used for internal review and analysis.

If you have legacy media like film, video, photographs or documents, you are generally the owner of the content. That’s why, if you have the footage, it makes sense to update and restore it so that it can be used to engage your clients. Depending on what it is, you may even be able to monetize that legacy media.