09 Apr How to Use Your Photos for Your Media Pitch
If you walked into a room full of people, which person would you rather be?
The person standing on a chair going, “Look at me! I have things to say. Let’s be friends.”
The person that people gravitate to and say, “Look at you. I’ve heard wonderful things about you. Let’s be friends.”
Personally, I like to be left alone, but it is always preferable to be the one that people approach and want to engage with. Very few people make friends by being aggressive with their introductions.
The same is true in the world of marketing and communications. Instead of shouting “Buy Me!” into the void, communicators craft compelling content using words and visuals to tell their story and make connections with their audience. You can do this with creative and eye-catching advertising, but sometimes, you can have more of an impact by exploring a story from a public relations angle.
The benefit of public relations is that media is earned rather than paid, which means that PR is a cost effective way to gain credibility and boost your brand awareness. The hard part is getting your story out there. While we cannot give you the “Top 10 Tips to Pitch a Rocking Awesome Story,” we can give you a few tips on how to use your photos for your media pitch.
Do Your Research
As they said on G.I. Joe: An American Hero, “Knowing is half the battle.” If you want to be featured in a publication, study their print and/or online versions to learn about the types of stories they run. A featured story on a news site is not going to be the same as an editorial magazine. Knowing how they use images and where they fit in the story will help you as you generate ideas for your pitch.
Shoot for the Cover
“We have a philosophy when we are on a photo shoot. It’s ‘shoot for the cover,’” says Mary Lou Coyle, President of Coyle of Studios. “If we know that a client wants to pitch their story to a publication, we create images that would look killer on a cover.” This means photographing vertically and composing the shot to allow the incorporation of text. You will need horizontal images for your website, marketing materials, and possibly the interior of the publication, but you should always be prepared for the cover.
Make Your Photos Literal
Don’t get cute or clever with your images when it comes to a media pitch. “Make the photos literal,” advises Lisa Coster of Coster Communications, Ltd. and Dorothy Fuchs of Purple Dot Public Relations. “If you are promoting wine, send a photo of wine. If you are promoting a festival, send a photo with people. Photos of a previous event are acceptable as long as the branding has remained the same and the photo is not promoting something the current event will not include, i.e. a specific entertainer or caterer.” Being literal with your images allows a reader to absorb your story quickly and without confusion.
Depending on the type of publication, you may need multiple photos to complete a spread. After you have your literal photos (i.e. an overview of a kitchen), the writer or editor may want detail shots highlighting a special element of the story (i.e. a marble countertop or carpentry work on cabinets). Interesting detail shots will entice people to spend time looking at your photos and reading your story. They will want to dive deeper and know more, which is something your PR team will love.
Know When to Send Your Photos
Not all writers and publications are the same, so you cannot approach your pitch distribution with a one-size-fits-all mentality. “In my role as Baltimore regional editor for Capitol Communicator, I am on the receiving end for a lot of pitches, and my No. 1 frustration is receiving press releases but no photograph,” says Jeffrey Davis. “We are required to include photographs with every story, and anyone who reads the Capitol Communicator can see that photography is just as prominent as the written content, so my first tip is to always include photos with your story pitches.”
However, there are writers and editors that do not want your images right away. “Many reporters/producers will not open email messages with attachments. But, send photos as a way to follow-up. You can say, ‘GM, I sent you the release and am following up to inform you that I also have photos,” suggests Coster and Fuchs. Davis also advises including a link to Dropbox or another share site that incorporates multiple images.
Resolution & Captions Matter
High resolution images and captions are essential to media pitches. “If reporters/producers have pixel and size guidelines, follow them.” says Coster and Fuchs. “Add captions using active voice. If the photos are of a small group of people, be sure to identify them by name and organization.” Basically, if the author doesn’t know who or what they are looking at, then even the most beautiful images are useless.
It’s also important to acknowledge your photographer, whether they are a paid, staff, or in-kind photographer. “Include a credit line so we can properly credit the photographer in the caption,” Davis instructs. Your photographer worked hard to capture your photos, and it is important to give them credit in the publication or online.
Interested in more tips? Check out our post on “How to Prepare for a Photo Shoot.”