Strike a pose: The power of images in social media and PR

A picture paints a thousand words or so the saying goes. Images have the power to grip an audience and tell a story without a word being written.

Such iconic images as the embrace in Times Square at the end of the second world war and the Beatles crossing Abbey Road are ingrained in the minds of millions of people worldwide.

And now with the ability to disseminate images around the globe with a click of a button, it has never been more important for businesses to use images to their advantage.

But what goes into a gripping PR or social media image?

There are a number of things when taking a photo that you need to consider before you press the shutter (or tap the screen).

Audience

You need to consider who you are trying to target with the image. Typically speaking, publications like a staged and posed photo as it fits in well with their standard style of image.

These types of images can also work well on social media, but you should also consider other types of photos used online.

Candid photos, or moments where the subject is caught off guard, can work particularly well on social media, particularly where there is an element of excitement or scale in the image.

Social media also allows you to get a lot more creative. If you are at an event, for example, why not try and find a unique location or something that stands out and that is visually interesting.

The best test for this is to think like your audience. Would you instinctively click on a post with that image displayed? If the answer is no then why waste your time.

Subject

People are naturally inquisitive about people, so always try and include a person in your image. This is particularly important for PR images, as many publications will not use, and often complain about, images without people.

A photo of a cake stand with some muffins on might relate to the story of a cake sale, but why not have staff members posing like they are about to tuck into the treats, or have the managing director look like they are about to cut into the cake?

Seems cheesy and cliched I know, but local papers and blogs love this type of content, especially as they often don’t have a dedicated photographer these days to get out and take their own images.

On social media, it is also important to include people in your photos, but try and make the images seem more natural if you can. By all means, arrange the subjects prior to taking the photo, but do so in a way that would seem natural to most people.

Social media is also a fantastic place to share interesting, attention-grabbing images and we would actively encourage businesses to assign a member of staff as chief photographer and get them to take regular images of office life, events and celebrations that can be shared on social media.

This is particularly important for platforms like Instagram that rely exclusively on images in order to create and post content.

Most importantly try and make the image look fun – think of it as an advert for your business. A group of people standing with their arms crossed looking glum is very intimidating, so try and get people to relax.

Composition

When taking a photo, you need to be conscious of what is in the background of the image. Try and avoid including things like plug sockets, water bottles, furniture, handbags and stray items of clothing, as it draws attention away from the subject.

Make sure the main subject is in the centre of the shot and arrange people around it. The lighting should not too harsh or to dim. Outside environments are preferable as the lighting is more natural.

Take both landscape and portrait shots where possible. Certain publications may have space for one but not the other, so the option of both is best.

Also, explore more than one angle when taking the photo. A head-on photo captures the image well but is not very dynamic, so both low, high and rotated angle photos should be explored, within reason.

Format

When sending photos to try and make sure they are in .JPG or .PNG format. These are the two most common forms of file format for images.

Also, make sure the device you are using is set to a high resolution and that the image is sent in its original form. It is perfectly fine to use a latest generation smartphone to take images, but just make sure the settings are correct and the file is not compressed for storage, as this can affect resolution.

Images should roughly be around 1MB or more in size for print publications and 500KB or more for online use. This allows images to be re-sized by publishers to suit their needs.

Try to avoid taking images in black and white or with any type of filter added, as these cannot be edited by publications, which can be very frustrating for them.

If needs be, we can help edit these aspects at a later date if requested for use on social media or on a specific platform.

Frequency

When it comes to social media it is important that feeds contain variety and are updated frequently, so it may be worth taking a number of photos on a weekly basis of interesting things that have happened around the office so they can be promoted on social media.

What about a video?

If you think that a video may be more appropriate then, by all means, feel free to record the event instead. Sometimes a video can be far more effective on social media and give more of a flavour of what is taking place.

We will try to cover videography in a future article to help you become the next Steven Spielberg so keep following our monthly themes.

If you would like advice on photography for PR and social media or have a specific question about how images should be used, please feel free to contact us.

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