Forget lengthy press releases, canned quotes and boilerplates. Sometimes all it takes to capture the media’s attention is a visually compelling image and a short caption.
Forget lengthy press releases, canned quotes and boilerplates.
Sometimes all it takes to capture the media’s attention is a visually
compelling image and a short caption.
Photo news releases (PNRs) enable PR pros to get pictures out more
quickly and stand out amidst a sea of written press releases. And while
the PR industry has been slow to adopt PNRs, improving technology is
making it a more viable option.
What kind of photos make a strong PNR? A scan through PR Newswire’s
NewsFoto’s online photo gallery - a distribution site for PNRs - yields
everything from Muhammad Ali posing with his new Wheaties box to Ronald
McDonald giving beanie babies to hospital patients.
’The shot has to be visual to catch the interest of the reporters.’ says
Anna del Rosario, senior specialist of corporate public relations for
Oracle in Redwood Shores, CA. ’Don’t send a boring black and white head
shot of an executive because it’s not usable. That is a waste of
everyone’s time and money,’ adds one NY-based photo editor.
To get the best results from your photo shoot, Greg Jones, director of
marketing for New York-based Medialink, advises that PR pros meet with
the photographer beforehand to help set up the shot. ’Ideally, if you
have the lead time, make use of your photographer as a counselor instead
of just a point-and-shoot guy,’ he says.
In addition to being transmitted directly to editors, PNRs can be stored
on wire service archives such as AP Topic Gallery, PR Newswire at
Newscom and Business Wire. This method of distribution, however, does
For instance, PR Newswire charges anywhere from dollars 200 to dollars
1400 per picture depending on distribution and other variables. But the
wire services do simplify the process of reaching thousands of photo
editors in a short span of time.
Alternatively, you can do it yourself. So how do you get your image to
the editors or wire services? You need a computer, a high-speed modem,
either e-mail or file transfer protocol, digital editing software such
as Adobe Photoshop and a scanner for digitalizing hard-copy
AP standard, which most production desks adhere to, dictates the digital
image be 200 dots per inch, in RGB (red, green, black) format and
measure eight inches by 10 inches.
The advent of high-end digital cameras has been a boon for getting a
quick, decent image to the wires and editors quickly.
While a PNR done with a digital camera costs approximately 75-100% more
than a traditional photo, PR executives say the added convenience
negates the extra expense. With the digital camera shots, ’we get
immediate placement,’ says Emily Cohen, manager of West Coast corporate
media relations for Lucent Technologies in San Ramon, CA.
While the improved technology comes at a price, del Rosario says her
company has no problem investing the extra money for digital photos and
requires digital photography for all deadline projects. And even if an
event occurs at the last minute, there is a good chance the photo can
make it into the next day’s news. According to del Rosario, a last
minute Christmastime charity event made news in more than 10
publications thanks to a digital camera PNR.
’I can put a photo on the desks of 80% of the editors in the nation in
about one hour,’ says Court Mast, president of Mast Photography in San
Francisco. Traditional photos shot on film must be taken to a developer,
then delivered to the wire service, which Mast says can take 3-5 hours
Some digital cameras ’produce images good enough to be published in an
annual report,’ says MaSt Digital photography tends to be inferior in
quality to traditional photos for people shots, but Medialink’s Jones
disagrees. ’The quality of the digital photo is equal to a good 35mm
shot,’ says Jones.
But this is only if a camera is top of the line (which can cost around
dollars 10,000). A regular photograph scanned in and sent digitally will
yield a higher quality image, notes Jeffry Abelson, photo desk
supervisor at Business Wire. ’You can spot a cheap digital image a mile
away,’ he says.
’Digital photos tend to look flat and lifeless. You can’t beat them for
a quick turnaround, though,’ adds the NY photo editor. So if you have
the time, perhaps a traditional photo is the route to take.
In the editorial realm, however, digital photography is beginning to
dominate. As many as 50% of photos from live events coming into the wire
services are digital, reports Kathryn Weinstein, photo editor of
Business Wire in New York.
PR still has some catching up to do with digital photography. According
to Weinstein, promotional and product shots are still predominantly shot
No matter how the PNR is taken, the key thing is to reach those with the
power to publish it. As Hal Buell, photo advisor to PR Newswire in New
York says: ’In the PR business, you want to make it as easy as possible
for the editor to use the picture.’
PHOTO NEWS RELEASE DOS AND DON’TS
1. Use a visually arresting image. The photo should tell the story.
2. Meet with the photographer ahead of time to map out the shot.
3. Use a regular camera if you have time for higher quality.
4. Use a digital camera if you need a quick turnaround. If you do use a
digital camera, make sure that it’s top quality.
1. Don’t use the PNR for traditional, stagnant head shots.
2. Don’t use black-and-white film. It’s easy to convert a color image to
mono, and color is cheaper too.
3. Don’t assume that all photographers are familiar with digital
photography. Many photographers still use only 35mm film.
4. Don’t forget about your web site. Digital photos can be downloaded
directly to your company’s web site or they can be e-mailed to clients