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Whenever someone mentions multimedia, I automatically think of those nondescript grey metal A/V carts of my high school and university days. (I know I’m dating myself here.) They’d always hold a messy assortment of what was then hi-tech: 16MM film projector, slide projector, TV/VCR combo and a bunch of cords.

And while I liked the idea of multimedia, I never imagined myself as the person behind the cart.

Of course, the audio-visual landscape has changed dramatically since then. Yet most communicators – myself included – are still woven to the word as the ultimate form of communication. PR school taught people why great writing is an essential part of the profession. And in many ways it still is. But…

In the beginning, there was the word…in the end, maybe not so much

I still can’t believe that when I started my blog, I was arrogant enough to think that words were enough and didn’t want to use images.

As we all know, we’ve moved from a print-focused world, to desktop and now to mobile and it’s up to us to get better at showing, not just telling. That means building visuals into our communications not as an add-on but at the concept stage. It also means learning to master a whole new set of skills. And that takes an open mind, commitment and non-billable time.

So why don’t we reimagine the A/V cart of old by transforming it into a multimedia story cart and consider the kinds of things it could carry if it was being pushed by PR:

Video to go. Google recently announced that the number of searches on mobile eclipsed desktop. They’ve also been talking a lot about micro-moments – all the times during the day when we reflexively turn to our smartphones to find something out. They call these, ‘I want to know/go/do/buy’ moments. And D S Simon’s 2015 Media Influencers Report found that 75% of producers, online editors and bloggers will use video on their sites. So why don’t we put those two things together and build in social media video that connects us to the people we’re trying to reach when they’re in the moment.

Pretty pictures. A few years ago, I sat in on a workshop by Paul M. Bowers who was sending people out on assignment to take themed-based photos and then offered feedback on the work in near real-time. One thing he said that stood out for me is that PR pros don’t buy stock headlines, why do we use so many stock photos? He challenged all us to get better at photography. And the only way to accomplish that is by doing. Using our smartphones to capture ideas in images and learning how to fine tune and edit them so they don’t look like an after thought. Since then, whenever I give a talk, I try to include as many of my own photos as I can. They may not be the best around, but I like trying to create visual ideas. And I believe I’m improving – at least I hope I am.

All-purpose word cutter. And speaking of editing, communicators need to get their hands on a handy device to trims away those excess words. Come to think of it, Twitter is a good place to start. Use brevity in your writing and try to think of images that can better convey your points. As you can see by this post, I still have a ways to go.

I’m not saying we should abandon words altogether. But we do need to look at the world in a more visual and, while we’re at it, a more mobile way.

What would you add to your multimedia cart?

A version of this post was originally published on Waxing Unlyrical.

 

About Martin Waxman


Martin Waxman conducts social media and online crisis training workshops, is a digital and communications strategist and speaks at events across North America. He's the co-founder of three PR agencies, president of a consultancy and has worked in the industry for 25 years. He writes a monthly column for Marketing Magazine, teaches digital strategy and is chair of PRSA Counselors Academy.

2 comments
Sharon Fenster
Sharon Fenster

And speaking of word clutter don'f forget jargon.  It needs to be eradicated and replaced with supporting images instead.


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