Neil O’Sullivan: How We Increased our Newsletter Clickthrough Rate with Piktochart

Neil O’Sullivan, whom we covered in the past, is the National Marketing & Communication Manager for the Public Relations Institute of Australia. In this post, he will talk about how he used Piktochart to increase the PRIA’s newsletter clickthrough rate.

Enter Neil O’Sullivan

My journey with Piktochart started just over a year ago, around March time. At that point, I had made the move to the big smoke here in Sydney from Melbourne. A promotion into the National Marketing and Communication Manager with the Public Relations Institute of Australia was the reason for my transition. Since then, I have been happily entrenched in the beautiful suburb of Bondi, enjoying the beach life. Now on to business…

The Issue

For me, jumping into the national role was a bit daunting at first, as I know there was a big task ahead. On top of the additional responsibilities that are associated with the role, I also faced a number of challenges right from the outset. One of the main hurdles I faced, as well as our team, is that PRIA is a not-for-profit organisation. This in turn means that budgets are always tight and staff time and resources are even tighter. Unfortunately, I do not have a dungeon full of minions that I can unleash to help me implement my social strategy, content creation or community management. In fact, it is just little old me. Well, I am supported by interns, and usually have two working with me at any given time to help with the workload.

The Challenge of Transforming The PRIA

The second big challenge for me in the role was taking on the stigma of a 66-year-old brand, with a rich history. The industry the PRIA represents, Public Relations, is evolving exponentially, and the industry ten years ago had a very different look. In order for businesses to be successful nowadays, you must be nimble and flexible. The industrialised world is changing and the day of the factory is waning. Retail, data consumption, news and technology are now at everyone’s fingertips, either for free or for an affordable price.

First Project: The PRIA’s Newsletter

One of the projects I looked at when I started was our newsletter. At the time, open rates were poor, and the layout and design of the newsletter itself was very crowded, with lots going on.  Today’s media landscape is moving at an electric pace, and in order for PRIA as the industry to be representative, we need to make sure we are at the peak of industry developments. That is where Piktochart came in.

The idea behind the revamp of our newsletter came from an American PR expert duo, the Crescenzos that presented at our 2013 PRIA National Conference in Adelaide. Their session was entitled ‘Content is King’ and they spoke about how the modern day communicator should do less, but do it better. They used an awesome example of how magazine covers work. Even try it yourself, they use 3-10 words to encapsulate you into a story; whether its 6 second abs, or five new ways to be more productive, they grab your attention.

That is exactly the same tact I was taking for the updated newsletter approach. We took the magazine cover idea and tested how it might work for PRIA, a membership organisation. Straight away, it was a good fit, featuring our very own members on the cover each month, which was a great member engagement project. PR professionals work around the clock and are very time precious, and the previous newsletter was full of white noise, taking far too much time to navigate. Therefore, we went back to the Crescenzo mantra, do less, do it better.

One of the first revamped covers!

The Goal & Using Piktochart To Achieve It

When tackling a project, it’s important to create goals. These were simple in my mind;

  • make it clearer
  • make it more fun
  • think of snappier headings
  • achieve better open rates
  • make it reflective of what a modern day communicator would want to see

My inspirations for the revamp of the newsletter are based around brands like Cosmopolitan, Frankie, VICE, MTV and the likes of Pedestrian TV.

So, having the big hairy audacious goals is one thing, but how do you do it? We had no budget; I had no graphic design skills, which meant I was starting from scratch. I had to think laterally on this one. Through my research, I landed on Piktochart, and I had seen – being a comms person across all things media of course – that online graphic design tools were starting to be more common. I liked the look and feel of Pikto – as I call it – and gave it a bang. Funnily enough, I still remember my first infographic as if it were me remembering a first date (see below, do not laugh).


When it came to newsletters though, it is tricky to get it from point A to point B. Here’s how I did it:

Create the Cover and Have the Content Ready

You can do that easily in Pikto’s infographic builder.

  1. Simply upload the images you need to use, being on a Pro account helps as you can add more images, and design the cover as you like it. Tips: keep consistency on branding (to some extent), but you can get away with going off corporate guidelines if you are going with the ‘Cosmo’ look.
  2. Once the image is complete, you then need to image map it back into your email marketing system. Our EDM system is clunky, so this was not easy, at first. You either:
  • simply drop the image into the email first and hyperlink it to where the main content is held OR
  • I went a step further and wanted members to be able to hover over the text, which interested them the most and click on that text for them to be taken directly to that news story, blog, event date etc. This process is just a bit more complex. You will need to go to a free site like Image MapsYou upload the picture you have designed, then use their interface to hyperlink each piece of text. It is not too difficult! Once you are all done, you can save the HTML coding and go back to your own CRM or EDM system. Simply paste the coding into your source HTML section and voila!

The Results!

Here is our latest edition, which went out in June of this year. I hope that you will agree that it has come a long way since my first attempt.

PRIA’s latest newsletter cover

Since we have been using Piktochart for our newsletters, we have seen an increase in open rates to 35% amongst members, which is fantastic. It has helped us improve our reputation in the industry as a leading force. Our members are more engaged on a month-by-month basis and we have been able to celebrate some of our most founding members on the cover. Overall, it has been a great year and I look forward to producing much more in 2015 and beyond.

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