31 May The power of a photo
Have a great story, but no photo to illustrate it?
Without a photo or image even the most brilliantly crafted story, blog, press release or website will fall short and lack impact.
As a journalist who is taught to respect and value the written word, this may sound unusual. Yes, words are important, essential even – but never, ever underestimate the power of the photo.
When I first started out in journalism, at the Northampton Chronicle & Echo and later for regional magazines and then travel publications, we had an army of photographers working alongside us. When the news or features editor sent me out to cover a story, a press photographer – known in the trade as the ‘snapper’ – almost always came with me.
Rarely the case nowadays, with newsrooms (particularly local newspapers) squeezed on budgets.
Instead of a bank of reporters and photographers (think Washington Post newsroom in All the President’s Men and the Boston Globe in award winning movie Spotlight) there are usually only a handful of writers and often not even one photographer employed and on the books.
So, given this new media landscape, what is best when it comes to getting your press release picked up by your target publication? How do you secure that perfect, accompanying photo?
- Firstly, never ever send a press release to a journalist without including an image (unless it is tv or radio). Journalists and bloggers will be far more likely to cover news that includes an image (although a terrible image could be just as bad as not including one in the first place).
- Make sure your image is professional, tells a story and perfectly reinforces the message in your press release.
- We regularly encourage our clients to consider hiring a professional press photographer – but don’t go down the route of a wedding photographer. A press photographer knows and understands exactly what the media want and this will massively increase the chance of your story being published.
- If you do hire a professional make sure you prepare a detailed brief – location, timings, date, and a wish list of images. You may only need one photo for the job in hand, but why not use the time you have paid for to get other images in the bank – staff headshots, product shots, etc.
- We always ask our photographers to share their images to the Cloud and to divide them into LOW and HIGH-res images. High-res images are ideal for the media but you will need lower res images for social media and it is a faff having to resize them yourself.
- If you are taking your own photos think quality. If an image tells a story, then the quality of that image will matter. If it looks blurred, the people in it are tiny against a boring landscape or it is not clear what the image is meant to be, you’ll lose people’s interest. A good image that clearly portrays what someone is doing, how much they’re enjoying it, what scenery surrounds them or what action they’re taking will energise something that is essentially still and make it feel full of life.
- Before sending any images to press make sure you name them – ideally with the names of the people photographed and location.
- Do not embed images into your press release – instead, attach them along with your press release to your email and send them as JPEGs (did you know JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group?!).
Every single photo tells a story. That’s why we love them. They bring to life our social media feeds, websites, blogs, and brochures. When you’re scrolling, what do you look at first – the words or the image? We all look at the image. That means it’s not just important to have a photo – you need a photo that’s good.
So, when you send out that press release, having a great photo to support it can literally be the difference between whether it gets printed or not.
Many people believe it’s all down to the power of the words. But, believe me, the image has just as much – perhaps even more – impact.
PS: We have a photographer of choice who we always turn to – and our clients have benefited from. See below just a couple of our favourites, taken for our clients by the talented Kirsty Edmonds, a South East Midlands based press photographer with masses of experience at newspapers and magazines across the UK. If you want us to introduce you just drop us an email or give us a call.