A picture used to tell a thousand words. Now, in our fast-paced culture where the next story is just one quick swipe away, a striking visual is everything.

Grabbing attention is a big challenge these days. A great editorial photo can be a real difference maker for media relations success. It is so often the crucial element in securing high quality print and online coverage for a news story or big announcement.

Understand what makes a great editorial shot and you’ll be well on the way to ensuring that your next company event or press launch receives the attention it richly deserves.

Knowing your audience

The first, and most important step, to great editorial photography is taking the time to be clear on who you are trying to reach with your news – before picking up the camera.

A firm grasp of your target audience, both in terms of media contacts and potential readers, will help to inform the style and formality of your shot, and the message you wish to convey visually.

If your number one goal is to secure national media coverage, you will need to pull out all the stops to make sure that your shot tells the story instantly in a highly striking fashion.

According to news and photo agency SWNS, national newspapers in the UK now get sent up to 50,000 pictures each and every day, so the competition is huge. Work with accomplished PR photographers with national expertise, and trust their judgement when it comes to cutting through the vast digital noise.

Being creative

We now live in a highly visual society. These days many of us would consider ourselves to be pretty decent photographers, and have the technology right there in our pockets allowing us to capture big moments as they happen.

Over 80 million photographs are uploaded each day to Instagram, now one of the world’s popular social networks. Just let that daily figure sink in for a moment. It’s huge.

This vast rise in online photography has unquestionably raised the bar for PR photographers, yet ironically it’s also led to increased demand for professional, well-composed editorial photographs. News outlets crave and need strong visual content to appeal to time-poor readers with shorter attention spans.

With this increase in demand comes an opportunity: to be highly creative, and to use photography to enhance stories in compelling fashion. Quirky staging, out-of-context positioning and natural shots are all approaches increasingly used by PR photographers to help pique reader interest.

Considering every possible layout

Busy journalists simply do not have the time to chase for alternative photographs to suit their editorial needs. Don’t miss out on the chance for valuable media coverage just because you didn’t offer up a wide enough selection to choose from at the right time.

Print and online coverage comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes these days, and your editorial photography should be flexible enough to work in any situation.

Winning photoshoots will cover off everything that a publication could possibly need – including shots in portrait and landscape format, headshots, full length, product and action shots, all supported by clear captions. Quite simply, the more choice you provide, the better your chances of success.

Forward-thinking PR agencies now use dedicated online newsrooms to make sure that every story is supported by a wide array of great editorial shots, ready to download in a range of resolutions, 24 hours a day.

Avoiding branding

For national and consumer media, overt corporate branding and blatant product placement is a turn-off when it comes to editorial photography. Media outlets, unsurprisingly, are not in the habit of giving away free advertising, and will avoid doing so wherever possible.

A great editorial photograph should be able to get across the essence of a brand without explicitly having to feature a logo within the shot.

The inclusion of key stakeholders is fine – as long as they are essential to the story being pitched – but the best editorial shots avoid a ‘PR look.’ These shots appear authentic, natural and un-posed. Corporate line ups and ‘grip and grin’ handshakes are to be avoided wherever possible.

They’re just not that … interesting.

Adding value

Your photo is only going to be used if it has strong editorial merit. Before commissioning photography, it’s always important to carefully consider how newsworthy a story is, and what assets you can supply to boost the chances of securing the right kind of coverage for your brand.

Editorial photography is only one part of a full package here. A strong, fact-laden press release, topical and interesting quote from a relevant spokesperson, and supporting video (wherever possible) are all key elements that should be provided alongside photography to boost success.

Editorial photographs should always be strong enough to stand up on their own merit, but if you can support a great shot with a full package of useful content, you’re much more likely to reap the benefits.

Want to stand out from the crowd?

In this multi-channel media age, getting your brand or company to stand out and reach the widest target audience is more challenging than ever. That’s why working with an experienced PR team can give you a real edge. If you’d like to find out how we can help you stand out, just drop us a line.