Visual Storytelling: It’s the Newest Name in the PR Game

By Giuseppina Chiaramonte

The Hoffman Agency, San Jose

It’s no secret that the way we interact online has gotten increasingly more visual. Take the proliferation of sites such as Instagram and Pinterest. You can even just take Facebook – remember when your profile only highlighted one picture – and it was kind of small? Now Timeline highlights you, yourself and your nine latest photo escapades all in their largest and most vibrant visual glory. 

Yes, the world has caught the Instagram epidemic, and it’s starting to affect the way we consume information too. We now move so fast and are bombarded by so much, that it’s the picture – not the story headline – that catches our attention and causes us to click.

So what does this mean for the PR pro – the person working so hard to nudge a way into that headline?

If anything, it means we’ve got to get a little more creative in how we catch a journalist’s attention.

By moving away from traditional narrative tactics, PR pros can experiment with embedding charts in their pitches, infographics in their press releases and videos with their contests. Visual storytelling bestows new meaning to the question we often ask ourselves: “Just what does success look like?”

Of course, showy visuals won’t make up for a lack of a story – and pairing the wrong visual could do more harm than good. You don’t create an infographic just for the sake of having one, but because it adds something to the story you’re trying to tell. But when done correctly, visual storytelling can reap rewards.

The new shift to “visual PR” might not be the most natural transition for a PR pro. As our CEO mentions in a blog post on visual storytelling,

“People gravitate to the PR profession for two reasons, they like to write or they like to interact with others. In either case, the visual part of communications is an afterthought at best.”

Though – if the aim of a PR pro is to gain news coverage that is informative and engaging – I can’t imagine anything more engaging (or clickable or sharable) than a good photo or funny video. Looks like the lines between PR and advertising are becoming increasingly blurred …

At the risk of becoming a TL;DR, I’ll wrap up with saying that wire services are also taking notice of the shift to visual storytelling. In an effort to combat corporate speak, PR Newswire held a conference this past March on ways to employ multimedia for compelling storytelling. They’ve also posted a video (featuring our very own Lou Hoffman) on why visual storytelling is important:

What are some other ways PR pros can use visuals to tell their clients’ stories?

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