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Why you need to focus on photographs in PR

When pitching to a journalist, your story is everything. While your pitching style, relationship with the journalist and engaging subject line can all make a difference; the story is the win-or-lose factor. However, in a competitive field, there is one secret left to give your story an edge – photography.

Whilst reading the full story will obviously offer a stronger perspective on the subject, even the best prose can’t compete with a picture’s ability to instantly provoke an emotion or reaction. Editors are just as susceptible to the power of images as readers, and the right image can convince an editor to run one story over another.

Working for a B2B PR agency, I understand the difficulty involved in selecting the right images to accompany a pitch. This is especially true of Science PR, where sourcing the right images can be challenging.

What is PR photography?

PR photography is all about choosing the perfect photo to accompany a pitch for an article, case study, or press release. It’s vital because images amplify the content, catching the reader’s eye and prompting their curiosity. A photograph sets expectations about the tone and subject – but it shouldn’t give too much away. An image should ask a question, and the caption should offer the answer.

How does it adds to a story

A well-matched photograph can be the key to getting your writing published and can even promote a story toward the front page. Images also make your story more memorable: research suggests that using an image increases the chances of a reader remembering it by 55%.

Images are critical to getting noticed on the internet. On social media in particular, images aren’t just an asset; they’re practically a necessity. On Facebook, 87% of posts that users share contain photos, and Twitter has found that including a photo in a tweet increases retweets by 35%.

Get the perfect shot

There are three key steps to perfect PR photography. The first step is setting the scene. This means choosing the right background to emphasise your subject and setting up proper lighting. Try to get the lens as close to the subject as possible.

The second critical component is angle. We’re used to seeing the world from standing height, so mix it up and sit on the floor, crouch or stand on a piece of furniture to get a new perspective. As news photographer Giulio Saggin, put it: “If you can’t move your subject, move yourself.”

The final consideration is action. Your pitch is probably full of verbs, and your photo should be equally dynamic. Capture the subject in motion or doing an action, and if that’s not possible, give them something to hold or capture an animated expression.

Scene, angle, action. It’s as simple as that.

Worth a thousand words

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” according to the adage, so it’s essential to make the most of every photograph. Remember to take a variety of high-resolution photographs whenever you have the opportunity, in both portrait and landscape – that way, you’re prepared for front covers and online content. Building up a library of photographs also lets you offer each journalist an exclusive image for their publication and a variety of options to best suit their layout.

PR photography is a powerful tool for getting your content noticed, read, and shared. And remember, “a picture shows something, a photo tells a story”.

Written by Fleur Stamford, comms assistant at PR agency TopLine Comms

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