Social media learned one of its most valuable lessons from the world of PR: pictures that tell stories make the biggest impact. Think Kate Moss doing a line of cocaine – exclusively published on the cover of The Daily Mirror in 2005. That eponymous front page went global and caused a major sensation for all the wrong reasons. The popular supermodel Kate had contracts canceled and was heavily lambasted. But once she cleaned up her act (or maybe her PR profile!) the ensuing years brought even more bookings than ever.
The moral of the story isn’t to get photographed leading a rockstar lifestyle, but in a way that exposes the power, potential, emotion and memory linked to a picture.
National newspapers trail heavily behind Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram in their ability to get a picture to become viral across the globe in an instant, but the principle remains the same: pictures that tell stories create engagement.
Simple rules for photos & PR campaigns
Marketing professionals are aware of the importance of images, but they still make mistakes. Campaigns may not achieve the recognition of images like that of Shabat Gula (featured on the cover of National Geographic in 1985 "Along Afghanistan’s War-torn Frontier"), but marketers still have a responsibility to supply the mainstream and social media with the best possible imagery.
Smartphones are catching up, but still lack the finer editing and focus functions of dedicated cameras. When sending images with press releases, always make sure the images are hi resolution (at least 300 DPI). Ensure each image is around 1–2 MB's in size and try not to attach more than two to three per email. If you accidentally send a 50 MB picture it be rejected by the server or crash the journalist's inbox, which won’t leave a good impression!
Mugshots are for Alcatraz!
If you're promoting a brand, product or campaign involving people, the worst thing you can do is send a mugshot or a man in a suit with a blank wall behind him. The picture will say nothing. It will make no impact, isn't engaging and look and feel like content from a 1970's corporate brochure. If you're photographing people from an industry which has a typecast specific dress code, try and break the mold. Commercial property professionals should remove ties and stand on building tops (whilst always observing health & safety!).
Contrast your color
When being photographed for a business profile for example, wearing black, sitting on a black leather sofa with a dark background won't work. Always wear colors that contrast (not clash) with your background. Remember that once printed in a newspaper a green outfit could seamlessly blend with the grass behind it, leaving a very odd image.
Keep it real
Pouting lips and posturing selfies aside, social media culture has also taught us to be more spontaneous, adventurous and comfortable with having our picture taken. Many of us are guilty of just having holiday snaps taken of us whilst walking towards a sunset or in front of an iconic view. But social media's gift to the world of is to take distinctive and unique pictures. So, don’t be afraid to ask your photographer to be more creative and try to catch you in your natural state. That kind of shot will come across as much more authentic.
More Tips on Social Media & PR Campaigns
There's so much more to a successful PR campaign driven by social media, you can find out more by reading our Q&A from #SMWLDN or watch the video recording below:
And if you are in need of some personal PR advice, feel free to contact me directly at Meerkat PR.