What Am I Looking At? The Importance of Visuals in PR

CBS-morning-ShowWhenever you are inviting press to an event, it’s important to tell reporters what they are going to see. Television and print are both very visually driven, but so are other media. In this digital age, every outlet has an online component, so even radio appreciates a good image to go with a story!

News outlets are always busy, and sometimes can’t even send a reporter out to each story. When reporters are short, they will send a videographer or photographer if there is something to capture live. Then, reporters will simply craft the story based on your press release. If there isn’t a visual clearly laid out in the media alert, they will be likely to go elsewhere.

Here are some examples of visuals that the press will want to capture on film or tape and then share with the masses:

Posters—if you’re holding a press conference or protest, be sure to include in the media alert that there will be posters. Even go as far as to write out the slogans that will appear on the posters—or what the crowd will be chanting.

People—if you’re holding a rally or a walk, make sure to note how many people you are expecting at the event. Will everyone be wearing the same t-shirt or color? Breast cancer awareness is a great example—when you see a group of people wearing pink, you can almost always assume they are doing some type of breast cancer awareness event.

Reenactments—People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has taken street theater to the extreme, parading “naked” people around in different scenarios to garner media attention, and it works. You don’t have to be naked, but individuals using pertinent props can make a visual impact.

Animals—There is nothing the camera loves more than a fuzzy face. (Trust us on this one, we are an animal-centric public relations firm, after all). Bring animals to your event to interact with reporters and photographers/videographers. Make sure they are friendly and ok with crowds. If you can’t bring a live animal, but your company or organization has a mascot—have someone dress up in a costume. Mascot costumes are good for more than press events—they also get a lot of attention at leafleting events, state fairs, or even conferences. Who doesn’t want their photo taken with human sized cat?

In addition to providing media with engaging visuals, if you are going through the time and trouble to hold a press event, we recommend hiring your own photographer and videographer. Hiring your own team to cover your event is a good way to hedge your bets. Plus, you can then send your photos to the media that wasn’t able to make it to your event, and your event could still get coverage. Also keep in mind that if you don’t document your event yourself, you won’t have any footage or photos. Television and print publications copyright protect their visuals—and gaining access to use them publicly will be impossible or expensive, depending on the outlet. It is much more affordable to hire your own team.

With photography, make sure to hire a professional who will be able to turnaround a handful of great images quickly (within hours), so you can have them to send to reporters and post on social media. Keep the photos on file for your annual report or even fundraising appeals.

The same goes with videography. It’s always in a company’s best interest to develop a B roll package (footage provided free of charge to broadcast news organizations as a means of gaining free publicity). The more events you hold, the more diverse and interesting your B roll package will be. Then, when you get an opportunity to tell your story, you will again be able to provide great visuals.

Visuals are critical in PR. Media loves capturing and sharing engaging visuals, so creating good visual content, and making the press aware that you have done so, will be highly effective in communicating your company’s message to the public.

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