Picture perfect: How to snap up coverage in a flash
Posted By Andy Smith
The saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, we’re not going to be that ambitious, but it should sum up a good 400 or so – the average number of words in a press release.
Here’s the scenario: you’ve got a cracking PR story – it’s timely, it’s novel, it’s interesting and it’s significant. However, I’m afraid to say that, most of the time, that’s just not good enough. Without a good picture, it’s unlikely to excite even the most bored-stiff journalist and your email will be sent to Trash before you can say ‘kind regards’.
A great picture really can be the difference between your story being used or dropped, or the difference between it being page lead or a nib (news-in-brief for those not in the know). Nowadays, videos and infographics are becoming increasingly important for online platforms but, when it comes down to it, as long as you’ve got a good story, the only essential is a photo. And not just any photo – the photo needs to pack a punch and completely sum up the story being told.
Here are our top tips for capturing the picture that’ll paint your business in the best light.
- Go professional
First things first: it’s really worth investing in a good professional photographer. While smartphone cameras are great and the newer models no doubt offer exceptional quality, they don’t come with a lighting technician, director and editor – key requisites for a stand-out photo. Yes, it’s an additional expense, but if you go with a homespun version and your story falls flat, you’ll be wishing you’d left it to the pros. We’ve got a trusted circle of contacts we can always count on to do a top job.
- Choose your subjects carefully
News wouldn’t exist without people, so more often than not there’ll be a person or people at the heart of your story – and they should be at the heart of your photo, too. Anyone central to the story and quoted in the press release should be in the photo. Does your story relate to specific community group or a class of schoolchildren? Get them in the photo.
- Pick a relevant setting
Headshots are fine if you’re writing a bylined article and that’s what the journalist has requested, but if you’ve got a piece of news, you should ideally have a proper set-up.
As much as possible, you need the location to tell the story for you. If you’re issuing a story about a shop, you’ll want the photo taken at the shop; if a manufacturing business is central to your story, you’ll want to be in the factory; if it’s a property story, a good construction site wouldn’t go amiss. Of course, not all industries offer such tangible backdrops. Technology companies, for example, are particularly difficult to find locations for. However, it can be useful to consider the end user in these instances. If it’s a fintech company, could the photo be taken at a bank? If it’s health technology, go for a hospital.
- Be creative
Once you’ve got your people and location sorted, it’s time to think about what will really give your photo personality. Are there any props you can use? Is there a way you can visually reflect the story? For example, if the story’s about a manufacturer reaching a milestone output, you could have a huge mountain of whatever it is that’s been produced. If it’s about the launch of a new bakery, have your protagonist pouring flour into a mixer.
Of course, the story won’t always be especially event-based, so there may not be some terrific stunt you can set up – in which case, see the next point.
- Get your product or brand in shot
The only components of a news story that you have complete control of are the quotes and the photo. Use the opportunity to sell yourself! It won’t be appropriate in all instances to go into full-on promo mode – such as a CSR or charity story – but if it’s a standard promotional shot, make sure you get your product in there. If your business offers a service, rather than a product, then be sure to include your branding, whether it’s on a wall in the background, or on clothing, lanyards, mugs – whatever!
- Offer variety
It’s important to give journalists a few options so, when briefing the photographer, outline a few different scenarios you want including, as well as who you want in each shot and any particular angles you’re after. Make sure the photographer takes a mixture of portrait and landscape shots, too; for online publications, landscape is preferred, but print titles have templates to work to and often a portrait photo fits the bill.
Got a story you want to bring to life? Let’s chat.