Pack a punch with pictures: part 1

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IF US Tigers had a pound for every time we’ve seen promotional opportunities missed because companies have failed to come up with decent photographs we’d be very ‘fat’ cats.

Photographs are one of the most commonly neglected areas of business marketing plans, yet a decent image library is a really simple thing to create that can reap dividends on the promotional front.

During our time as journalists we’ve seen some of the world’s most groan-worthy shots – from the infamous pointing picture and dull cheque presentations (even if it’s a big cheque, it’s still boring!), through to rows of suits shaking hands –there are far too many to count.
But, oh, for that rare moment of joy – a strong, good quality image that sells a story, really captures the essence of the message and has reader appeal.

As marketers, we speak to journalists all the time and guess what? They still get bombarded with boring, poor quality imagery. The digital age has certainly made it easier for us to take, produce and store images but lots of people still don’t properly understand the difference between a low resolution and high resolution image. The result? The publication can’t use your picture and, sometimes, that means the end of any article too. What a wasted PR opportunity!

Imagine this scenario: the regional paper is keen on running a story on your business – great news! However, they need at least two or three pics to go with the article – one of your MD, pictures of your warehouse/office etc… What do you do? Do you coolly agree that you’ll have a selection of high resolution images emailed to them in the next hour when you’ve gone through your image bank, or, do you break out into a cold sweat and wonder how you’re going to source a camera, round up key personnel, take pictures and get some ready in time for deadline?

Going back to basics

If you fall into the latter camp (as a lot of businesses do), here’s some homework for you.
Let’s start with the basics. Do you have a decent camera on site? It’s always a great idea to have a digital camera on hand as you never know when a good picture opportunity might present itself. It doesn’t have to be top end, whizzy and do everything bar make the tea – just a camera that can provide high resolution imagery (jpeg or tiff files at a minimum of 300 dpi* are often the standard requirement for printed publications, but check with them to make sure).

Tiger Tip: Always make sure you check the settings on your digital camera to ensure you’re taking high resolution imagery, not low resolution. The camera will often use the words ‘large’ or ‘super fine’ but check your user manual to be sure.

In an ideal world, with a big enough budget and enough time, it’s always great to work with a professional photographer to put together a company portfolio. Nothing beats collaborating with someone who will have the ideas, time and expertise to present your company in a professional way.

However, if budgets and time are a little tight, even putting together your own shots can be useful. Perhaps a staff member is an amateur photographer and would relish the chance to show off their skills (always a good idea to quality check first though!). If so, get them involved, make sure you give them a picture credit for their work and encourage them to do their thing.

Firstly, think about what pictures you’ll need to start off your new company portfolio. We’d suggest a good selection of shots of key personnel, ie directors, department managers etc – anyone who is likely to act as a spokesperson for the business and/or who may be quoted in any future press releases – plus some good team shots. If you have products, take some of these too (it’s advisable to get professional help with these, as it’s crucial to get lighting/setting correct to show them at their best). Work out who in your business needs to be photographed and get a date in the diary to hold a photo session, or sessions.

Ensure you get a good variety of exterior and interior office/warehouse shots – maybe some of your staff at work (if they’re happy having their picture taken, of course). Try and be creative with the pictures, don’t just take a picture of a group of people in a line or over pose the shot; be inventive, find unusual locations for your photo session, don’t be scared to experiment with relevant props or tilt the camera at an angle to produce a livelier framed photo.

Chill out, man

Above all, spend time ensuring those to be photographed are relaxed. Many, many people hate having their photograph taken and that can show in the finished product, so do something to make them feel at ease.  If time and deadlines allow, why not plan in a day or half day and put on a buffet lunch, play some music to create a good atmosphere and share some positive company news with them.

When you’re actually taking your shots it’s important to take a wide selection of portrait or landscape images (vertical or horizontal). Our experience working on news and picture desks tells us that if you supply both types of pictures you may well stand a better chance of getting your photo included with an article.

Finally, another really, really basic requirement is to ensure you have a high resolution, print ready logo. There’s nothing worse than discovering the logo supplied is only low resolution (fine for online work but NOT for printed promotional material). Believe it or not, this does happen all too often.
If you’ve had your logo professionally designed, make sure you receive both a low resolution and high resolution version for your image bank.

So, now you have the beginnings of your very own image library and it’s time to rock and roll. But what should you do with the pictures when they’re taken? How should you store them? How can you use them to promote your business?

Watch this space for part 2 of our Tigertastic photo guide… coming to a screen near you SOON!

*dpi stands for dots per inch – literally; it’s how many little dots are crowded together in an inch of space to create your picture. The more dots, the clearer the image. Online images only need to be 72dpi, whereas images for print usually need to be a minimum of 300dpi – it’s a good idea to aim for about 10cms across at 300dpi, so your pic can be used across at least two newspaper columns.

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3 Responses to Pack a punch with pictures: part 1

  1. Rosemarie says:

    Excellent post. As a webmistress the number of times I have had delays in projects because of poor photographs trying to represent what should be a really exciting business are too numerous to mention. It’s a very very old phrase, but the ‘picture says a thousand words’ is really so true and the right image can make such a huge difference. (And then there’s the “oh, I just copied off the web” – don’t ever go there!)

  2. Alison says:

    Thanks for your comments Rosemarie. The 72dpi versus 300dpi (web versus printed publication) issue happens all too often so we always try to work with our clients to help them build up a good portfolio of good quality pics. Here’s to fantastic images in future for all of us!

  3. Kamryn says:

    Great blog yo72&8#1u;ve got here.. It’s hard to find quality writing like yours nowadays. I really appreciate people like you! Take care!!

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