Although internet marketers and video content producers often work with PR people, they rarely collaborate on creating video news releases or VNRs. The reason is obvious: The cost of creating, optimizing, and distributing a video news release or VNR is relatively higher than a press release without multimedia, and the benefits are generally unknown. That’s why you may want to pass this case study along to the public relations professionals who work with your organization. They may or may not be impressed that Laura Sturaitis, the Executive Vice President of Media Services and Product Strategy at Business Wire, and I presented this success story today during the professional development workshop on “Best Practices for Demonstrating ROI in PR Messaging” at the PRSA 2013 International Conference in Philadelphia.

However, most PR people will be intrigued that Pat Hall, the CEO of Get City Dealz, and I just won the inaugural U.S. Search Award for the “Best Use of PR in a Search Campaign” for this case study during last week’s Pubcon Las Vegas 2013. And they’re very likely to be fascinated that Holly Firfer, an Emmy nominated correspondent and anchor for CNN, who was the MC for the U.S. Search Awards, said, “This entry was very highly rated by judges who felt that it was a very worthy winner of this category and wanted to reward this solid campaign with impressive metrics and accurate attribution.”

Press Release With Video Gets 55.4% More Views Than One Without [Case Study] Greg Jarboe and Pat Hall accept US Search Award from Mel Carson 606x404

Mel Carson of Delightful Communications (left) presents the US Search Award for Best Use of PR in a Search Campaign to Greg Jarboe of SEO-PR (center) and Pat Hall of Get City Dealz (right).

Testing Three Different Kinds Of Press Release

So, what’s the backstory? Back in February 2013, SEO-PR, my content marketing agency, Get City Dealz, a technology company in New Orleans that specializes in assisting merchants in promoting their businesses on its deal platform, and Business Wire, the global leader in press release distribution, conducted a test to find out if including a video or photo in a press release generated better results than a press release which didn’t include multimedia.

Get City Dealz created three similar press releases. Each one featured a different local merchant that offered a daily deal or local bargain in New Orleans on the recently launched Get City Dealz platform. Each of the press releases was distributed via Business Wire at 6:30 a.m. on successive Saturday mornings in February.

The first release for Jazzy Nola, a French Quarter boutique, went out on Feb. 2. It included a video entitled, “Get City Deals & Jazzy Nola Team Up to Bring New Orleans Great Deals!

The second release for Orleans Grapevine, a restaurant in the French Quarter, went out on Feb. 9. It included a photo of one of the Cajun Creole restaurant’s menu items and specials: a Shrimp Remoulade served in a beautifully hand carved Conch Shell from Belize.

Press Release With Video Gets 55.4% More Views Than One Without [Case Study] orleans grapevine creole shrimp remoulade on GCD 606x524

Orleans Grapevine used Get City Dealz to promote a Shrimp Remoulade served in a beautifully hand carved Conch Shell from Belize.

The third release for Glam 504, a boutique shop, went out on Feb. 23. Although Glam 504 focuses on unique jewellery and clothing that has New Orleans flair, the release didn’t include any multimedia.

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The target audiences for all three press releases were more than 1 million tourists and 5,000 media members who were converging on New Orleans for two major events -- the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras.

The Results: Press Release With Video Attracts 55.4% More Views

By April 1, 2013, the first release with a video had 5,059 release views and 230 link clicks, according to Business Wire’s NewsTrak Reports. The video, which was uploaded to YouTube, also had 69 views. The second release with a photo had 3,406 release views and 181 link clicks. The third release with no multimedia had 3,255 release views and 169 link clicks.

Press Release With Video Gets 55.4% More Views Than One Without [Case Study] Business Wire NewTrak Report April 1 2013 606x346

Business Wire's NewsTrak Report for April 1, 2013

So, the video news release had 55.4% more release views and 36.1% more link clicks – and the release with a photo had 4.6% more release views and 7.1% more link clicks – than the release with no multimedia. Together, the three releases had 11,720 release views and 580 link clicks to landing pages on the Get City Dealz site.

My agency also used the Google Analytics URL Builder to tag the links in the three releases. This enabled the team to see that visitors from press releases visited an average of 3.12 pages per visit and spent an average of 2 minutes and 16 seconds for the duration of a visit. It also enabled the team to see that 72% of the visits from the releases were new, compared the site average of 42%. also saw an 85% increase in referral traffic in February over January. This came from websites like Yahoo! Finance and Reuters, which carried the releases, as well as social media like Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest. also saw a 407% increase in organic search traffic in February over January. It’s also worth noting that the number of unique visitors to on weekends doubled in February over January.

When I was in New Orleans in April, I heard a couple of stories that added some anecdotal evidence to these “impressive metrics.”

First, the Get City Dealz VNR for Jazzy Nola featured some unique wine tumblers made in a distinctly New Orleans style with a gold fleur de lis imprinted on the tumbler. The release helped sell out of the order of wine tumblers, which were great for tourists and visitors wandering the French Quarter during the Super Bowl or on the Mardi Gras parade route.

Second, the video news release also mentioned that Jazzy Nola was promoting their Roger Goodell voodoo dolls on Get City Dealz. Fashioned with “G-O-O-D-E-L-L” beads and a heart that has a black pin and fleur de lis through it, they were hand made by Laura Blackburn. At the press conference on the Saturday before the Big Game, the media asked Goodell about the voodoo dolls and he joked that he’d just read about them that morning. Oh, the Roger Goodell voodoo dolls also sold out in a matter of days.

So, whether your PR people are trying to reach the public or the press, adding a video to a press release can help them reach their goal. And, VNRs are something that you can collaborate with them to create.

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  • Lei Gainer

    Curious to know if media outlets picked up the video and used it on their sites (or news programs). Did you track that?

  • Douglas E Brown

    I have had similar experiences in using video for PR. Glad that someone wrote it up in black and white numbers. is one of the few high-power PR sites that does not up-charge for video inclusion. They seem to be by far the best price of the bunch when you consider including video or other rich media content.

  • saucertosser

    The results appeal to me intuitively -- I think we all pretty much agree that video is the #1 way to engage viewers now. However, I would love to see the study repeated using a couple of more controls: 1) instead of three different press releases, use the SAME press release, one with video, one with an image, and one without either; and 2) send all three releases out on the same date. I suspect results would be the same, but just sayin'.

  • DSLR Video Studio

    Video is the most effective PR tool for press releases, adding interviews, service & instant awareness.

  • DSLR Video Studio

    Video as a show and tell tool is effective for multiple news, announcements and content channels.

  • Greg Jarboe

    Headline impressions can be misleading because it counts a headline ranked #10 in results as well as a headline ranked #1 in results as 1 impression. That's why I focused on release viwes, which counts the times someone clicked on the headline to read the release and the number of link clicks which counts the number of times someone clicked on a link in the release to go to a landing page on the Get City Dealz website.

    • Neil Davidson

      Thanks for clarifying Greg.

  • Michael Antico

    Thanks for the article. Its something that I've been able to track on my own email communications and press releases. Now I just need to get my team to change its ways.

    • Greg Jarboe

      Changing habits is hard. But hopefully the case study is a compelling argument to do a test.

      • DSLR Video Studio

        Definitely agree to that.

  • Neil Davidson

    Hi Greg
    I was wondering how the video actually influenced views? I guess that journalists receive a press release as an email or on a RSS feed that they subscribe to and then just see the headline before determining whether to click on the link or not? Therefore did the video or image actually impact the number of views?

    Does headine impressions mean that the recipient just saw the headline before determining whether to click in and read the whole thing? Or were the impressions views of the actual release and link clicks were clicks on links in the release to each of the businesses websites?

    Am I reading this incorrectly as it looks to me as though video actually had a negative impact in this case?