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How is rich-media used in Public Relations?

“Rich Media” is “Typically, a type of advertisement technology such as a web site or banner ads that are more advanced than standard GIF animation. Rich media banners include: Flash, Shockwave, streaming video, Real Audio/Video, pull-down menus, search boxes, applets that allow for interactivity, and other types of special effects. Rich media offers an enhanced experience relative to older, mainstream formats” www.allaboutjazz.com

Public relations firms have primarily used rich media as a tool for sales and marketing initiatives such as streaming emails, on-line ads and flash animation. These strategies have been very successful.  As a business communication vehicle, rich media can engage, entertain and inform audiences faster and far more effectively than any other type of communication. (P. Tierney, 2003). 

Below is an example found on youtube. This mobile ad leverages interactive rich media advertising to promote the recent film “True Blood”

“Studies have shown that individuals only retain 10% of information they read,  20% of the information they hear, but 50% of the information they see and hear” (D.G Treichler Research, 1967). 

The rapidly increasing penetration of the internet into people’s homes, (79% of US Internet homes by 2008) business’s (80% of Global 2000 companies by 2006) and lives (P. King December, 2002).

Using these statistics means that professionals working in the P.R industry using forms of rich media when communicating can enable the industry to take advantage of the power of the internet’s reach and interactivity via methods like video, voice and flash animation in driving purchase intent, brand favorability, aided brand awareness and even message association, it also serves to deepen customer connection and ultimately, the online experience.

Online initiatives and campaigns that incorporate rich media are more likely to enhance their increase customer retention and ultimately convert to potential revenue.  Through programs like Adobe Atlas, rich media is able to be tracked and measured in terms of success rates with regards to online campaigning and advertising. 

Rich media can be useful by producing live webcasts for high-impact customer events with large audiences including content with streaming audio, streaming video, presentations, live Q&A sessions, and polling questions. For example, reality television programs like “Big Brother” used extensive forms of rich media through the use of voting polls, mobile updates of current activity, 24 hour online streaming and to some extent download online contestant biographies.

Crisis communication— Japan Disaster, a crisis such as this, time is of the essence. Business executives and governments  know they’ve got to get the right information to the right people as quickly as possible to restore consumer confidence. Certainly, it can be done with text. But the importance of seeing and hearing a company’s leader during trying times simply can’t be underestimated. Integrating a reliable enterprise media network enables companies to rapidly respond to crises with targeted rich media communication, and also lets them protect their most important asset—their reputation.  (P. Tierney, 2003)

The global interactive games industry is an emerging area of new media. It is sometimes referred to as the new “super medium”. It is said to be at the forefront of many of the most significant innovations in new media (Flew & Humphries). The significance of interactive games to new media development extends substantially beyond their current role. The Economist observed:

“Games are widely used as education tools, not just for pilots, soldiers and surgeons, but also in schools and businesses… Anyone who has learned to play a handful of games can generally figure out how to operate almost any high-tec device. Games require players to construct hypotheses, solve problems, develop strategies and learn the rules of the in-game world through trial and error. Gamers must also be able to juggle several different tasks, evaluate risks and make quick decisions… Playing games, is thus, an ideal form of preparation for the workplace of the 21st Century, as some forward thinking firms are already starting to realise”.

The Interactive gaming industry  presents the opportunity for PR professionals  to re-think the way they’re currently communicating with customers, prospects, partners and employees as McKinsey & Company found in a recent report.

The significance of rich media as an emerging industry, in particular interactive gaming is most certainly a field that needs to be seriously assessed and incorporated within businesses practices to compliment traditional P.R communication. Dr. Humopanieni described the virtual activity as a “very natural way of exploring what is around you”.

Virtual practices in an industry could be of benefit in circumstances like product trial, product testing and research and even audience engagement. Employee training policies and practices could incorporate this into staff and business development strategies.

However, trying to successfully forecast the impacts that this trend could bring upon industry will take time and continued research. As  Peter Tierney makes mention his article in back in the early 2000’s, “we have been given the building blocks of technology and have started to become more widely available. It is now into the hands of the industry to incorporate strategies to adopt the emerging trend and take full advantage of its potential and innovative capabilities.




P. Tierney (2003). Econtent leadership series (web)

T. Flew 2008,  New Media: An introduction 3rd edition. Oxford Press

The Economist online magazine

P. King (2002). Residential Broadband Modems and Gateways: Global Market Forecast—Strategy Analytics (Web).


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