PR TECHNIQUE: PNRs - How to get the most from your PNRs. A picture is worth a thousand words. So for your next product promotion or event, why not use a photograph instead of a written press release? Debra S Hauss explains how to capture the perfect PNR.

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.

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

cost money.

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

or longer.

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

on film.

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.’



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

or employees.

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