It’s often said a picture is worth a thousand words.
It turns out that it may even be worth better results from your public relations initiatives.
A study by PR Newswire found that press releases with photos garnered nearly twice as many views as text alone.
- Articles with images get 94% more views
- Readers connect with images in just 13 milliseconds
- Our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text
Another fascinating finding here by Poynter – images can even help create trust in readers: “Headlines and comments, along with graphics and photos, are crucial. An older U.S. reader said the right photo was key to interest as well as credibility: ‘I am a visual person, and so if there’s imagery, that will catch my eye, and then I’ll read the headline. If there’s no imagery, I may just run right past it.’”
Visuals Can Be an Afterthought
In my work with clients, I often remind them to think about the visuals. One of my manufacturing clients said I have now “trained” her to remember those whenever we’re preparing to pitch a story.
As we develop story ideas to pitch to the media, taking time to consider the visual elements we can provide can at times be as important as the story itself.
One journalist shared with me that while the subject and the opening line of a pitch matter most, “High-quality lifestyle and product images have inspired me to come up with an idea for a story.” Conversely, I’ve heard of situations where a client lost an opportunity because they didn’t have a high-resolution image to provide.
I appreciate it when clients prioritize visuals because they can make such a difference. If you’re pitching a story or writing a press release, you should be thinking about visuals you can include or offer along with it. Better to think and plan ahead than to get caught with no images when the reporter expresses interest.
Yet another reason it matters is that the days when media outlets might send a photographer out to your location to take photos for a story are over. Many no longer have the budget, so they may ask you to provide your own visuals.
Often in B2B public relations, clients are asked to provide images to accompany contributed articles. Recently, the editor of an industry trade publication shared guidelines for publication stating that the client must provide high-resolution images to accompany the piece.
And, most journalists now think in terms of multimedia, per this piece on Poynter. “Visuals shouldn’t be an afterthought. They’re a key part of the story that will expand your storytelling far beyond what text alone can do. Embrace collaboration with visual journalists in your newsroom. Bring them into the process as early as you can, and watch as your story grows richer with their work.”
I would offer that same advice to clients. Your story will grow richer with the right visuals to bring it to life.
Tips to Develop Public Relations Visuals
Here are some tips to help you boost your public relations visuals game:
1) When possible, use your own photos. I once asked a client to send me an image to accompany a press release, thinking they would have some photos they’d taken to choose from. Instead, they sent me a generic stock photo they pulled from a Google search – not exactly what I had in mind.
2) Think through what visuals you can offer. What images do you already have in your library that you may be able to incorporate into your digital PR efforts? What photos or videos can you capture for a story idea in the works?
By thinking about the visuals early in the process, you’ll increase the odds of being able to capture and include compelling imagery in your efforts.
3) The higher the resolution, the better: If you take photos using your phone, be sure to send them at the highest possible resolution to ensure the best quality. When submitting an image to a print publication, 300 dpi (dots per inch) is considered high resolution.
4) Hire a pro. Once you decide what visuals you want to include, you’ll have to determine how to go about capturing them. If your budget allows, consider hiring a professional photographer to take photos.
Sometimes, the photographer can come to you to take photos of your executives, for example. That makes it convenient – and ensures consistency in the background used for a more professional look.
5) Think beyond photos or videos. Infographics can be another element to offer. Your graphic designer may be able to help, or to create your own infographic, try a platform like Venngage.
6) Add imagery to your site: Consider adding some of your visuals to the news area on your site. Post these in your “News” or “Press” area (which I highly recommend you have – it makes things easier for journalists – which increases your odds of earned media coverage). Elements like logos or executive headshots are good candidates for this.
7) Ensure images are cleared for editorial use: One editor mentioned that while including visuals can make a difference in his level of interest, “The pitch must make clear if the visuals are cleared for editorial use.”
This post is helpful if you want to learn more about the difference between editorial and commercial use of photos.
8) Use stock images – in some situations: For social media or blog posts, it’s acceptable to use royalty-free stock images if you don’t have your own photos.
Including visuals on social media increases the odds of posts being shared. Per Prezly, “Facebook posts with images get 53% more likes and 104% more comments than those without. Tweets with pictures are nearly twice as likely to be retweeted.”
9) Invite media to cover events: For events that may warrant media coverage, invite media outlets to attend to capture their own footage.
When I asked some reporter contacts about this, one replied: “If the event happened in the past and a PR pro is sending images/video, it’s usually a no. But if WE have a chance to get compelling video, it’s something we consider when assigning stories.”
Visuals Help Bring Your Story to Life
Providing the highest-quality imagery possible with any story you pitch can do wonders for your results. Don’t let it be an afterthought. Be sure to think and plan for the visuals as you map out the details of any story or press release you plan to pitch to the media.
Need assistance with your media outreach? I can help you pinpoint which of your stories might be most appealing to the media – and assist you in determining visuals to accompany your story pitches.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
About the author: You’ll find Michelle Garrett at the intersection of PR, content marketing and social media. As a public relations and communications consultant, Michelle’s articles and advice have been featured in Entrepreneur, Muck Rack, Ragan’s PR Daily, Attorney at Work, Freelancers Union and more. She is the co-host of #PRLunchHour on Twitter Spaces and is the founder and host of #FreelanceChat. In addition, Michelle was named among the top 10 most influential PR professionals by Commetric in 2021 and ranked no. 3 on the PR Measurement Twitter Influencer Index in 2021. She was named one of The Most Influential Tech PR Professionals in the World 2021, and a Top Digital PR Leader in 2020.