Digital photography gets wider view

For decades, media coverage of photography was aimed at two distinct consumer audiences - the casual user interested in point-and-click, easy-to-use cameras and the enthusiast looking for complex equipment and the knowledge of how to take advantage of it.

For decades, media coverage of photography was aimed at two distinct consumer audiences - the casual user interested in point-and-click, easy-to-use cameras and the enthusiast looking for complex equipment and the knowledge of how to take advantage of it.

But the switch over to digital imaging in recent years not only revolutionized the photo industry, it also dramatically expanded the number of outlets willing to cover the latest cameras.

"Now we can reach out to media that's much broader in scope and range," explains MWW Group VP Saurabh Wahi, who heads the agency's Nikon team. "It's not just photo magazines and the traditional hobbyist publications. We can reach out to tech publications like Wired and Popular Science, as well as tech/computer outlets like PC World and MacWorld.

The switch to digital has also brought a lot of new camera manufacturers into the field. Karen Thomas, president and CEO of Thomas Public Relations, says that means you have to work a lot harder to distinguish your client's cameras in the media.

"For a women's magazine, we may push the colors and the cool style, while the men's outlets tend to look for high-end gadgets so we stress features like image stabilization," says Thomas, whose clients include DXG and FotoNation.

In the recent past, many digital cameras also sought to attract media by boasting of high megapixel counts, but Wahi says, "The megapixel range of the camera is no longer the center of gravity. The media is a lot more focused on usability so we tend to highlight a camera's feature set."

John Owens, SVP and editor-in- chief of Popular Photography & Imaging, notes the switch to digital has been a boon for the enthusiast press, adding that his outlet has seen a surge in newsstand sales.

Popular Photography combines extensive product reviews with advice on how to use the latest cameras to take great photos. Owens' advice to PR pros is to get cameras and information to his staff as early as possible. "Our lead time is several months," he notes, "but we still want to break a lot of stories."

Thomas stresses looking beyond obvious outlets, noting things like the scrapbooking surge which offer new hooks for the latest cameras and photo-related services.

She also advises leveraging as many seasonal angles as possible. She recently got a royal blue camera from her client DXG included as the "something blue" gift on a Martha Stewart Show devoted to weddings. "Each market is looking for something different, though many of these are not extensive reviews," she says.

Pitching... photography

Look beyond the traditional holidays to suggest cameras as ideal gift items for media doing Mother's Day, Father's Day, graduation, and summer-travel stories

Although many mainstream outlets will only do picture and paragraph camera reviews, it's wise to get new products into editors' hands. So work with clients on an extensive sampling program

The latest digital cameras are technological marvels, but don't get too enamored with pitching megapixels and specifications. Focus instead on price, ease of use, and feature sets when reaching out to general-interest outlets

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