As we look back on May releases, what stood out during this past earnings period were Investor Relations (IR) announcements breaking that old, traditional block-paragraph template. A favorite study of ours is on eyetracking– how readers engage with content seen on screen – from Nielsen Norman Group. One of their main takeaways gives good reason to avoid this type of formatting:
Make no mistake, the F-shaped scanning pattern is bad for users and businesses: it means that users may skip important content simply because it appears on the right side of the page. Good web formatting reduces the impact of F-scanning. If your pages have big chunks of unformatted text, people will scan it in an F-shape.
A company should be doing all they can to engage their readers with the content they present. Even in more traditional (read: boring) IR announcements, you want to avoid your reader just flying down the left side of the screen, possibly missing key messages you were hoping they’d capture.
The type of content formatting this month’s press releases use – everything from using bullets and bold, to including great multimedia assets – is also a nice way to control the narrative as much as possible. It enables your key messages – data points, executive quotes, etc. – to stand out. And it helps ensure your audience (be it a journalist, investor or consumer) retains those messages after they’ve moved on.
5 of the Most Impressive Press Releases of the Month
The following IR announcements stood out on this front in May:
1. AT&T's WarnerMedia And Discovery, Inc. Creating Standalone Company By Combining Operations To Form New Global Leader In Entertainment
With great use of subheads above the main body, easily digestible paragraphs; and strong use of bullets and bolded section headers, AT&T and Discovery presented a visually compelling piece of content here for this major announcement. What really made this release go above and beyond, however, was the fantastic PDF supplement they included that gave a clear and concise snapshot of the deal’s highlights.
CEVA utilized the subhead field well, using bullets to break up its main takeaways, and once again stood out by including an engaging, easy-to-read infographic with quarterly highlights.
Twitter also made nice use of a subhead to highlight key data points and bullets to keep the reader engaged – and stop them from just scrolling down the left side. What stood out here as well was leading with their executive quotes in the main body, which is not the norm in an IR (or any type) of news announcement. And whether from this press release or another source, that quote from the CFO stood out in earned media pickup. (E.g., ZDNet.) Coincidence?
Sempra does a great job breaking the traditional block paragraph template by leading with an embedded image pull quote and clear, concise data points in this infographic. Their bolded section headers really stand out in their positive messaging, too: “building resiliency”; “continuing growth”; “making progress.”
Remember: Section headers, just as with the headline, should always have strong, positive action verbs whenever possible.
This release presents nice, short paragraphs to keep the reader engaged and has an easy-to-read bulleted section under a bolded “recent highlights” section header. What puts this story in the top five for May, however, is the image Fathom includes in our enhanced carousel at the top – where a reader doesn’t even have to click it to get the key data points they want readers to remember.
Quick tip: When it comes to presenting data points in an image like this or more classic inline infographic, less is better.
No matter what type of news announcement you are providing your target audience(s), remember to always create content that engages a reader’s eyes inward – fighting against that quick F-shaped scan down the side. IR announcements don’t have to be so boring! And truly, using features highlighted above will increase reader engagement.
To gain more insight into how to engage media audiences, download Cision’s 2021 State of the Media report.
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