The importance of high quality photographs in the PR industry

July 31, 2012 · 2 comments

in Business,Culture,Events,portraiture,Resources

Photographs are powerful and persuasive, and underused in Public Relations. Many editors complain that they seldom receive press releases accompanied by photos, and rarely are those press releases accompanied by print-quality, high resolution photographs that are ready to publish.

Using second-rate low-resolution photographs in press releases is harmful because, in business, first impressions mean everything; and naturally a professionally captured photograph sends out a positive message to the target market. No matter how well written the press release, poor quality imagery, and even worse, no image at all – will not grab the attention of the reader.

The ideal press release should include an outstanding photograph and a well thought out, articulate caption to capture the attention of the reader. People like pictures. Pictures tell stories and they also provide the eyes with a rest in between copy.

Readers first notice the photograph, then the headline, and if these elements interest them, they’ll continue to read the article. If the photo is below standard, the chances are the article won’t be read.

Reading a long article can sometimes take a lot of time and, for some people it can be boring, especially compared to looking at a photograph and reading a caption. Research has proved that people generally have a powerful reaction to photographs; and the more impressive the photograph, the more emotive the response – even though the reaction is mostly subconscious

The importance of image size

Many people – PR agencies included – don’t understand image size requirements for print. A 72dpi image that is 50kb may look fine on your screen, but it most certainly cannot be used for print. Only 300dpi images that are around 1MB images are suitable for printing.

I supply my images in two folders – a high resolution folder for large format printing (A3 print size), and a medium resolution folder (1MB) sized for PR use for submission to magazines, newspapers and other publications. This removes the stress from the client when they need to send images to accompany their articles, as I’ve already sized the images so that they are small enough to be emailed and are suitable for print.

At many publishing houses and in newsrooms, the editors’ inboxes are inundated with press releases, most of which are only text. Great photos seldom accompany press releases – being the exception rather than the rule – and the result is that a well-written press release without a photograph yields minimal benefits for the PR agency and their clients (and often end up being trashed by a busy editor who doesn’t have time to source a print quality image before deadline.)

According to research done by PR Newswire, just by adding a photograph to a press release will get you 14% more hits. That’s a lot of eyes.

Corporate portraiture versus mug shots

One editor I know says that it amazes her when companies send her photographs of the CEO or MD, which are nothing more than a very bad “mug shot” taken by the secretary, often with a brick wall as the background. As mentioned, first impressions are everything, and a professionally photographed corporate portrait conveys a positive message, while a “mug shot” gives a negative impression of the company.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Julian July 31, 2012 at 4:51 pm


Leigha Morrison April 10, 2013 at 8:22 am

I am a PR student at Ohio State and I found your post to be right on the dot! Due to some of the classes I have taken, I was able to learn about the right resolutions to use. I think that for those who are not familiar with the photography or design side of communication, your information and tips are really helpful! I would like to get your opinion on a subject in which I have recently been studying, what types of images or how many images do you think should be included in a multi-media news release? As these types of documents are becoming increasingly popular, I think that it is important to understand what is a good balance of various kinds of content.

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