Posts Tagged ‘visual’

Visual Storytelling: Who Knew It’s Been Around For More Than a Hundred Years?!

Friday, January 25th, 2013
Flickr Image: josefnovak33

Flickr Image: josefnovak33

Marketers and public relations practitioners have long known that storytelling is critical to any campaign. Storytelling is about relating to people, about making a connection with your audience.  PR has long been a text-based, word-driven method of communicating messages, but it’s no longer enough to simply broadcast these written messages.  “PR historically has been about words—telling. Now it’s show and tell,” says Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman in a recent AdWeek article.

I’ve read copious articles in the past year on the “new trend” of visual storytelling. Articles that point out we are a society of “visual learners.” Visual storytelling classes have recently been added to university course catalogs, professional development and continuing education workshops and webinars are abundant. Infographics have become a popular way to socially share messages in the past couple years. Some say this shift is due to how we consume information and communicate in the digital mobile age. But I say this is a trend that actually began more than a hundred years ago!

Over the holidays, my husband and I watched the History Channel mini-series “Mankind The Story of All of Us” that we had DVR’d. In the final episode, they talk about the Congo rubber trade in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s under King Leopold II’s dictatorship and the brutishness of forced labor. A common occurrence was to physically maim children as a warning to villagers. Enter Alice Harris, a British missionary, and her camera. (I know you were wondering where I was going with this J).

Brian Williams, of NBC Nightly News (and one of the commentators in the series) says, “The invention of photography and the means to get them in front of people held more power than its inventors ever imagined. Photos don’t blink and they don’t go away. Once you’ve seen that image, you can’t rewind.”  Harris took hundreds of photos of the atrocities—photos which were then published in newspapers across the world, shocking millions of readers.  These photographs were so horrific and communicated so broadly that it transformed public opinion and changed society, forcing King Leopold to quit the Congo rubber trade.  I would argue that this was the beginning of visual storytelling—at least in the modern mass media age. (Visual storytelling actually dates back to more than 30,000 years ago with cave paintings.)

In addition, “Once you’ve seen that image, you can’t rewind,” Williams went on to say, “The expression ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ –that’s a low ball estimate. A picture, a good picture, is worth so much more than that.”

This is especially true in today’s digital age. As PR and communications professionals we are increasingly tasked with disseminating messages in a crowded online space. The content we produce must not only gain the attention of audiences – but keep it as well.

Like our ancestors, we must create stories that paint pictures – either via our words or via images – to sway public opinion and, perhaps more importantly, persuades people to respond to our calls to action.

Check out this BurrellesLuce Storytelling newsletter for more helpful tips.

Technology Might Be Changing, but Media Relations Best Practices Still Apply

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

bullhornillustration_3418213772_f18071b855_o.gifAs we watch the Internet’s evolution, the introduction of mobile news, and the growth of social media, we tend to think that media relations is also changing. Not really. True, communications technology is changing, but media relations itself remains essentially the same. 

We already know the media relations basics, right? 

  1. Do your homework and research.
  2. Think like a journalist.
  3. Write a catchy headline or subject line.
  4. Know who you are pitching. 
  5. Use the K.I.S.S. method – keep it short and simple.
  6. Be honest.
  7. Know your story and why it’s newsworthy. 

Most importantly, in the words of Jon Greer, “If I could wave a magic wand and change one thing about PR, it would be this: to make all press releases and PR pronouncements about the interests of readers, users and editors, not about the organization issuing the press release.”

What is changing is how we get this information in the hands of the media and the format. (Reminiscing break: remember when you used to stand at the copy machine and spent hours stuffing physical press kits with printed releases, photos with caption stickers, and any other collateral you could think of?  I sure do!) 

Now, all press releases need to be multimedia. Print publications may use a video for their website. Radio and TV stations may not only use the audio or video sound bites, but also a printed story for their website. 

Sternal Communications Understanding Marketing site recently published a PR Checklist for Media Relations to help you ensure your story is strong enough to make it through the newsroom clutter. 

What are you doing differently these days to make sure your media relations program is successful?