OPINION: The Big Question - Does the PR industry invest enough resources in quality visuals?

In a survey of 200 art editors conducted last week, three-quarters

claimed they had downgraded or spiked PR-generated stories because of

the poor quality of the images accompanying the copy


'Yes. Beauty PROs tend to be imaginative and skilled at highlighting

what is unique about products to hit the market - be it the latest shade

of eyeshadow or a new treatment. Where we feel products are of interest

to our readers, we are quite prepared to shoot them ourselves if a

quality picture is not supplied by the company - but if they are, so

much the better. Whether we go with a press shot in our magazine or our

own studio shot would depend largely on where and how the image is to be

used. The design of every page is unique, so it would be impossible for

a PR company to arrange pictures to fit each magazine's style.'


'Yes. But while the industry invests plenty of money in this area, it is

being spent inefficiently. Client money is spent on preparing

photography and other visual assets, with little or no thought about how

to use these assets for maximum returns. To make the investment

worthwhile you have to give the media access. It's pointless having

expensively produced photos and graphics sitting in your filing cabinets

or on your network server where journalists can't get to them. The

internet is the definitive communication tool so let's start using it.

PROs must invest in web-based solutions for managing, controlling and

distributing images, or accept their stories may be dropped or relegated

as a result.'


'If only it would! As we know, since we employ a full-time staff snapper

of our own, pictures can double the chances of a story being used.

There's even a difference between a good image and an excellent one.

Three things make an excellent picture: composition, lighting and

retouching. Everything used to depend on the first two of these, but now

good composition can also be enhanced significantly by retouching. This

can make eyes bluer, skin and teeth fresher and help secure page one

rather than page seven coverage.

There's no doubt a client's confidence is boosted with better

photography, especially at senior level. The job of PROs is to make

their client look good. That's what good photography does. Remember -

whatever the audience, people still eat with their eyes.'


'No. I've worked in trade press for eight years and it never ceases to

amaze me how rubbish most PR pictures are. It's not so much the

technical quality - in fact we often have to bin well-executed pictures

on the grounds that the subject is so awful. PR agencies and their

clients never learn that pictures of punters wielding cheques or of

lines of grey suits are boring. I suppose clients put agencies under

pressure to include company bigwigs in the pictures. In that case they

should be more ruthless - ask them if they want coverage or their egos

massaged? Given the field I work in, where most of the organisations

covered are public bodies, as a taxpayer I get a bit outraged that

public money (NHS publicity budgets) is wasted on such dross.'

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