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Published on Fri Aug 14, 2015 by David Colbran
As it suggests on my homepage, ‘good photography is good business.’ This is never further from the truth when it comes to Public Relations Photography.
Businesses are always looking for a return on investment and for press officers securing quality coverage is an essential element in measuring success.
But why bother with getting great photography you’ve written some great words, surely that is enough? It might be, but don’t forget the adage ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’. Often in a rush a stock shot is used, something a little out of date or worse still a wonky image from a phone! And of course editors receiving your release may not have time to read the text, but a stunning complementary shot will give you the edge over competitors.
1. Write a detailed brief. A sensible starting point is explaining the audience of the release – don’t assume the photographer will know your product or business. Explain if it will be sent to trade press, used on the web, or perhaps to local press. All require slightly different approaches.
2. Think about what you are trying to get across – what could bring your story to life? Celebrity endorsements? Unusual locations? Members of public involved?
3. Include a contact number of someone who is going to be at the location and make sure they are expecting a photographer. I’ve arrived at offices on numerous occasions, reporting to the reception; to find out they aren’t expecting me. Think about model releases as well, you will need them / are the images to be used in advertising campaigns? Who is bringing the releases? Most photographers use them but will need a reminder to bring them to PR or press photo calls.
4. Preparation is the key to most things in life. Photography is no different. The best PR Agencies will work closely with their clients before a shoot, to ensure everything is just right. From getting the branding in place, to making sure locations are clean and tidy. Often forgotten are uniforms, out of date signage, or just general clutter. Getting this sorted out before the photographer arrives, means there will be more time to try different angles and creative ideas.
5. Be there yourself – most photographers will be well used to client direction and it can also smooth things if the photographer needs other members of staff in the shot, or perhaps access to a certain location on site. Also most photographers will not be totally familar with your brands - you may want to highlight some particular aspect of the client's business.
6. Think about any health and safety issues. Pretty dull I know but essential to create a professional and safe photograph. For example are staff in the photo wearing the correct personal protection equipment (PPE)? Does the photographer have adequate public liability insurance, just in case something goes wrong? Is the workspace clear and free from trip hazards?
7. Quality counts for a lot. Despite many media outlets relying on citizen journalism and photos of sunsets or cats, quality images by photography professionals will always be a good PR investment. Picture editors are more likely to promote your clients brand if they receive great images.Plus professionals will have off camera lights, equipment back ups and creative ideas get the best out of the shoot.
8. Use props! Few pictures are duller than a line of suits. Bring props, products and even children to the shoot. A good photographer will be able to make suggestions based on the brief in advance but if the PR has a few ideas up their sleeve, it is always good! For example, rather than an oversized cheque for charity work, re-create how money was raised – photos of cakes from a bake-off, staff wearing suits but in trainers for a fun run etc.
9. Think action! Editors and journalists are much more likely to use active images of people doing things. Interacting with customers, talking with colleagues or performing something from the days business will be much more likely to hit the spot, than a static composition with individuals staring into the camera lens.
10. Finally, make the shoot fun. An enthusiastic public relations officer and a keen photographer combo secures the best results. From a simple task of getting people to smile, to doing something a little more unusual in the shoot, a fun approach is essential.
So if you are looking to put some of this advice into practice and need experienced PR photographers, give me a call. While I'm based in Liverpool I've worked across the UK - even factoring in travel I will still be competitive compared to London freelance fees.
A recent example of photography and PR working well and getting loads of press coverage was a press photography for Paddy Power and Frank PR job I did recently.
2016 update - wow checking my site analytics, this page has received thousands of impressions and a really high CTR % (that's the percentage of users who see this on a Google search and then visit the page - CTR = click through ratio). So if you've arrived here and read to the bottom of the article and found it useful, please share / like the page using the social media buttons below, I'd really appreciate it ! Sharing is caring, as they say.
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Author: David Colbran
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