Beyond PR

Apr 04, 2013

I Wanna See! Visuals are the Holy Grail of Storytelling

A 2 year old girl is being recorded on video by her father, and just as he’s almost done recording, she grabs for the camera.  Dad didn’t have time to stop recording, and a two year olds’ hands grasp the camera, you hear her immediate need for gratification, “I wanna see”.

This was the story being told and shown by Jim Lin, VP of Digital Strategy at Ketchum Public Relations in San Francisco and author of the BusyDadBlog, as he finished his workshop at the Visual Storytelling Workshop that was held last week in San Francisco.

The audience gathered to learn from Lou Hoffman – CEO and Founder of The Hoffman Agency; Jim Lin – VP & Digital Strategist at Ketchum PR; Brian Solis (via Skype) – Author and Principle Analyst at The Altimeter Group; and Lee Sherman – Co-Founder and Chief Content Officer at

Lou Hoffman started the day talking about the importance of telling a good story and how visuals serve as the shortcut to the emotional touch points of the story.  In fact, he spoke about a study that The Hoffman Agency did on articles in the economist and how 17% of the stories over a 3 month period included anecdotes in them, yet less than 5% of press releases do so.   A good story has visuals to connect, and as an example, he offered this video from Caterpillar:

Storytelling today has a new process.  Online, good stories can take on a life of their own.   Lou showed his theory of the new Communicator’s Story Spike:

Jim Lin then spoke up about how visual storytelling can be the cure for the “common meh”.  Good visuals can bring the true emotion to the story.  Piggybacking on those emotional touch points, Jim spoke about how people don’t always remember the stories (facts and figures), but remember how they felt in that moment….yet too many brands leave passion on the table to settle for just the facts and text.   The importance that multimedia can bring to the table…good snackable content…and related the contents of a multimedia story to that of a good lunchable – short text, nice video, good visual all in one box ready to be lunch.  This is truly the way to make your story an experience for the consumer of that story.  At PR Newswire, we know this is true based on our own studies that have shown that visual stories get more views and generate more engagement.

Brian Solis then joined the crowd gather via Skype to bring his passion on the subject front forward.  In just launching his new book, WTF Business – What’s The Future of Business – Brian spoke about creating a business book that was more meant to be a visual experience.  (I know it’s the first business book that I’ve seen that is in a coffee table book format. )  His desire to present his content in this way was developed with his passion to try new things and break the rules of common convention.

When it comes to breaking common conventions today, Brian passionately spoke about this being the best time for PR & Marketing professionals to recreate all the rules.  The trends of content marketing are about “stitching together moments of truth” for the passionate consumer.   Brian explores this “ultimate moments of truth” in his new book, and finds that connecting visuals and stories lead people down the path to purchase because we are now connecting facts & figure to emotional connection.

Finally, Lee Sherman joined us from, one of the most visually exciting companies out there today.   Lee is passionate about connecting data to that visual story.   People are starting to suffer from I.F. – Infographic Fatigue.   So, now we need to be able to tell a better and more cohesive story, and visuals can help do that.  Just check out this video created by

Visual Storytelling doesn’t have to be complex, but it does have to be emotional.   PR Newswire will be hosting another workshop on Visual Storytelling in Atlanta on April 24th.

2 Comments on Blog Post Title

Net66 09:12 EDT on Apr 4, 2013

I love visuals. If you were to compare a blog with an infographic to a blog post with solely text. I’d go for the infographic every time. Visuals are so important these days and more and more videos and animations are getting used, and getting success. Great Post

John McAuliffe 16:48 EDT on Apr 10, 2013

I couldn’t agree more with Jim Lin about how visual storytelling can be the cure for the “common meh.” Our company is a technology firm focused on providing hotels with solutions that help them create and amplify their visual stories. For years hotels have focused on marketing the facts and figures (their specific amenities) rather than the experiences that guests can expect. Today, the hotels that get the most attention and bookings are those that tell the most compelling visually driven stories.

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