They say that ‘a picture tells a thousand words’. As someone who works in PR, I spend the majority of my day crafting and toiling with the English language but my job has also taught me how much truth there is in that age-old phrase.
In fact, the more press releases and features I compile and distribute, the more I realise the value that a great accompanying picture can hold.
Many articles do get published without images and there are rare occasions where stories don’t actually warrant them, but often a great picture, which captures the atmosphere of whatever story you are trying to tell, can determine the quality of coverage that can be achieved.
It can be the difference between a NIB (news in brief) and a full page spread, and, in some cases, can determine whether your press release is used in a paper rather than lost to the realms of cyber space.
With the value of images so high, I urge anyone undertaking PR to ensure that at every event a camera is firmly strapped to their wrist and with cameras on every smartphone there’s no excuse!
Taking several images means you’re more likely to get the one the press love, but there are some key rules, which can help you to achieve the perfect shot:
• Often the best stories and, therefore, the best images, are about people; so make sure you include them! Unless it is completely out of context, make sure that people in the shot are looking at the camera and that their facial expressions match whatever message your story conveys.
• It may seem like a given but avoid the ‘schoolboy errors’ of photography. This means there should be no fingers edging their way into shots, bad lighting or people with their eyes shut. Review the picture and take several to make sure that you get the one you need!
• In terms of lighting reviewing a photograph can help. If it looks too dark on the preview move to somewhere brighter (near a window, outside etc) or if you’re more of photography expert adjust your lens to improve the lighting.
• Investing in editing software can help too, at MK we use this to smarten up our images, from cropping out unwanted clutter in the background, to perfecting the contrast or shading of different pictures.
• Finally, always get your shots in colour. Although black and white ones can be very artistic an increasing amount of media now appears online and so colour photographs are essential. It is also far easier to turn an image from colour to grayscale than the other way around.
In conclusion never neglect your duty to get a great image – it can help you secure the coverage that your organisation deserves, as well as drawing attention to the story when it is used.
They say that a picture speaks a thousand words, well, it could get you a thousand words published too!