A picture tells a thousand words – effective Press photography

February 4, 2009

One of the most important things forgotten by many newcomers into the world of media relations is the power of a picture to tell a story, or to enhance the editorial offered to the Press.

For the sake of saving a couple of hundred pounds, a novice PR practitioner can often ruin the chance of gaining publication in a target newspaper or magazine, due simply to the fact that they did not invest in utilising a Press photographer.

And when you bear in mind the fact that editors are bombarded with literally hundreds of PR emails daily, it can be the picture that makes or breaks the media’s decision to run a story or include a commentator in a feature.

I would even go so far as to state that a professionally-taken, relevant, contemporary and correctly-formatted jpeg press image accompanying a press release automatically increases the chance of PR editorial being used by 50 percent.

Indeed, it can even be the image alone that ensures editorial is published. Think about it: editorial budgets are being cut, time is increasingly tight, many editors do not have the time to research in-house picture libraries, and their sub-editors (should the media organisation still actually employ sub-editors) are also against the clock with many other tasks and responsibilities.

If you can make their lives easier, by supplying a well-written, factually-correct, appropriate, interesting and unique press release, combined with a strong piece of Press photography – you are well on the way to securing publication in your target media.

This has been a cornerstone of all the media relations delivered from my PR business for clients over the last six years – in fact, I will not approve any PR editorial for issue unless it is accompanied by Press photography.

But what should you be looking for?

A good Press photographer will add value in the following ways:

1. They will deliver a visual representation of the editorial, often increasing the worth of the piece to an editor, enhancing the readership’s experience and loyalty to the magazine or newspaper over time. You help them sell copies.
2. You make the editor look better, by increasing the editorial value of the publication they are producing. You become a trusted PR image source.
3. You save the editor time – the most valuable editorial commodity.
4. You save the editor money, because they do not need to send a staffer photographer out to cover the item.
5. A Press photographer will save you time, because they will re-work, touch up and deliver the images electronically in a digital format which is preferred by the editor, and which you can also use in other marketing collateral.
6. You save yourself time and increase your editorial credibility, because you are supplying what the Press want, when they want it, and in the format they want it. If you conduct your media relations in this way, your value increases.

What will a Press photographer deliver?

Ideally you should be expecting to see the following:

1. A series of shots from the event, before they are re-worked, so that you can select the strongest images for Press usage. The photographer will be a trusted adviser here, in pointing out the best media images to submit.
2. Timeliness: you should expect to see the first shots sent to your email inbox within 24-36 hours of the event itself. This is particularly important if there is a timeline or deadline to the event itself, in terms of newsworthiness.
3. Formatting peace-of-mind: a good Press photographer will know the preferred formats required for Press images – typically, they will need to be provided to a Client re-worked, enhanced and at 300dpi resolution for newspaper and magazine usage in picture news stories or feature placement.

Where do you find a good Press photographer?

Consider the following sources, as with anything there are a lot of photographers out there, but not many outstanding ones:

1. Word-of-mouth: ask colleagues and trusted business friends who they have used locally in the past to provide great Press photography.
2. Ask the editors themselves who they recommend, if this is appropriate: you will often find that staffing Press photographers in newspaper and magazine newsrooms are employed on a freelance basis, and will be able to work on external Client shoots for media consideration.
3. Get online and research: you should find that reputable, well-established and reliable professional Press photographers will have polished websites with great portfolios and glowing testimonials for you to peruse before booking.

I would personally recommend a trusted UK-wide operation, such as www.professional-images.com, which provides nationwide Press photographers at industry-standard rates or lower. I have used this company for more than three years, and have not been let down once. Spotless.

What sort of budget do you need to consider?

A reasonable budget for a single shoot can range between £150 and £300, plus the cost of reworking images and supplying. The photographer will, of course, own full copyright on reproduction of their work. Check this with them first.

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