Beyond PR

Apr 12, 2012

Facebook Ups the Ante on Images: Is Your PR Program Ready?

Options abound for creating visuals to enhance your communications. Without visuals, content can't be pinned on Pinterest and doesn't get as much attention on Facebook, or in search engines.

Earlier this week, Facebook spent a Billion (yes, billion with a capital B) dollars on Instagram, a company with no revenue and thirteen employees that has created a fun and functional photo-sharing app loved by millions of users.  Images are big news in social media and technology. Pinterest continues its rapid ascent, as people and brands collect, organize and share images and video via Pinboards (text-only content can’t be pinned.)  And Apple is fueling the fire with the visually dazzling retina display featured with the new iPad.

But despite all this attention to visual content, most PR pitches and the majority of news releases are sent out unadorned, their authors relying upon the written word to convey meaning, capture attention and spark action. Visuals are often left out of the message strategy, despite the fact (yes, fact, not theory or assumption) that visual content draws more views and interaction online.

Search engines and social networks know their users gravitate to visual content, and they reward it accordingly: messages with visuals get more “Edge Weight” from Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, and get more exposure in search engines.  Press releases that include multimedia get more reads and more social shares than their plain-text cousins.  At this point, we have to consider using visuals to be an imperative for PR.  But what do you do when you don’t have access to fresh images for your campaign or pitch?  You don’t necessarily need a glossy, professionally-shot image.  There are other clever ways you can develop imagery for your content, if you’re willing to think creatively – and a little informally too.

Here are some easy ways to create visuals to make your message stand out.

  • Turn text into a picture.  Pinterest and Facebook are loaded with quotes turned into simple graphics with color and eye-catching fonts.   The web site offers fun and easy ways to create visuals with your own text.
  • If your campaign includes a list or data, turn it into a simple infographic.  People love to share information, and simple graphics help content travel far and wide.
  • Add simple captions or phrases to photos that evoke or relate to key messages.  (Note: be sure you have rights to the image before publishing it!)
  • Use a stock image from Getty to enhance your press release when you use PR Newswire to distribute your news.  Images are free when you select a premium photo distribution circuit, or can be purchased to accompany your news when you use another newsline option.

So the next time you’re drafting a message and don’t have an image at hand, get creative and put something together yourself.  You audience (and your boss!) will thank you.

Related reading: Make Your Next PR Pitch POP With Art

 Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media, and is the author of the free ebook Unlocking Social Media for PR.

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