Photos, videos and graphics have always been a central part of PR. From eye-catching stunts, to celebrity endorsements, the growth of social media has again reinforced the power of good quality pictures. Sites and apps like Pinterest, Instagram, Instagram Video, Vine, Snapchat and Storify are capitalising on our love of imagery – where a short and sweet message is all you need alongside pictures which tells a thousand words.

A recent survey found that 44% of the public was more likely to engage with social media which contained pictures over any other type of content – whether its memes, links or status updates. The Daily Telegraph receives approximately 50,000 images a day, compared to the meagre 5,000 a day it received 10 years ago. With the sheer volume of images constantly being sent around cyberspace, there’s more competition for PRs to get their pictures seen by the right people. Equally, we need to feed the public’s growing appetite for clever, funny and snappy images which also promote our clients.

In an attempt to stand out from the crowd, one thing to offer your customers (with very little hassle) is a ‘behind-the-scenes’ picture. Something more unique, humanising the subjects involved and giving the viewer a feeling of inclusion – trumping a stiff, corporate photo every time! One fantastic example of this, is a photo Barack Obama’s campaign team tweeted when it was announced that he had been re-elected as president. Within 12 hours, this simple picture of Barack hugging Michelle under the words “Four more years”, broke records as it was retweeted nearly 700,000 times.

The evasive nature of social media also makes it possible for anyone to get involved, so that you can take and upload your own memory of a particular event then and there. Hunter wellies, have launched a campaign to coincide with this year’s festival season entitled #BEAHEADLINER. Aside from rocking up and offering festival-goers the chance to swap their old wellies for a brand new pair of Hunters, celebrities have been getting involved too – tweeting pictures of themselves wearing a pair of Hunters, at festivals and using the hashtag. All of this has then be put together into one rather lovely Pinterest board.

Lego  is another company doing a great job of involving its customers by encouraging them to take creative pictures of Lego and submitting them online. The best picture was then selected to be featured in a Facebook campaign. At a Brand Republic conference, the company’s head of social media, Lars Silberbauer, made it clear that “[Lego] are at a stage where we would rather build a stage around our customers’ content than a campaign using fixed assets”.

When you also take into consideration that many media corporations simply don’t have the funds to always send out a photographer, there’s no reason why you – as a business – can’t take this into your own hands, or ask your PR agency to factor it into their client package. Sending in a ready-made press release, complete with photography might just give your company an edge when fighting for those all-important column inches. So we’ll end by offering you a few…

Top Tips

    • Don’t waste time chasing – think that about how many images The Daily Telegraph receives again… journalists aren’t going to respond to everyone or use every picture sent in so if yours really is special, don’t waste time and just try sending it on to someone else.
    • Working with your photographer – firstly, make sure that the photographer you’re using has experience in the right fields, then discuss what you think might work, allowing room for their creativity too. Remember, you both have the same goal and that’s to get your pictures the most media exposure as possible.
    • Just a sprinkle of branding – overloading a picture with company logos and products is a sure fire way to kill its chances of being used. Instead think more subtly and take inspiration from companies like Cadburys – who carefully use that particular shade of purple to remind customers whose advert they’re looking at.
    • Timing – think about what’s happening in the world and avoid dates that are likely to see your company’s picture swept off the newsdesk – things like the World Cup or Glastonbury which will dominate the news. Equally, take note of when particular newspapers, magazines or shows go to print/ air and give yourself the best chances of being included.