Photos & design = newsworthyness

•March 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

On January 24, 2008 I blogged about the use of photography in the public relations world. The focus of that blog was on a story I read in the Toronto Star about yet another sad story of a “dangerous” pitbull. This story made front page news that day. I think it made the cover story because the photo that accompanied the story (the dog and its owner) was superb.

Now the same pitbull story is back in the news.

http://www.thestar.com/article/346232 

BUT it lacked that one edge that helps drive the story home – it had no photograph. No visual cue to strike emotion in the reader. This is a very noticeable difference in the two stories. The first story the reader saw the picture before even reading the story. That leaves opportunities to decide what your thoughts are BEFORE reading the copy! Which leads me to my focus: photography makes things more newsworthy.

So take a note PR lads and lasses. If you want your news release, your event, your letterheads, your website or your WHATEVER to get noticed, it needs elements of design (or photography).

Daniel H. Pink wrote a book I love called “A Whole New Mind”. It’s a great book on how the world is shifting. It’s shifting from the information age to the conceptual age and it’s shifting due to three things: Abundance, Automation and Asia. After it outlines why the world is shifting, it explains how we can adapt in six simple chapters. The first way we can adapt is through… you got it, design.

I think public relations is at a folly due to abundance. There is so much of everything now. We live in a sea of worthless information floating around on-line, in our mail boxes and in our newspapers and magazines. Some practitioners use design well, others do not. (Hence the subtitle of my blog: “just because you have an index finger, doesn’t mean you should take photos”)

One company that uses photography well is Fayeclack Communications Inc. in Mississauga. Their website is www.fayeclack.com and they’re an agency with a focus on food. Their intro presentation is very well done (except it avoids the rule of 3s – they give four examples). Photos are scattered throughout their site with a very classy presentation. Every dish you see on their site drives home the complexity in which they know food. I’ve never heard of any of those dishes and here they have stunning photos of them.

On the other hand, design elements like in Maverick PR doesn’t tickle my creative bone. Static, stock photography shots of generic business men and women isn’t design. It’s adding photos because “we don’t have any yet”. It’s that type of design that doesn’t impress me.

It’s easy to see one piece of design and say it’s great without context. Once you compare what some companies are doing versus other companies, then you’ll see who has the eye for design. If it came down to me choosing either A or B and it was a deadlock tie, I’d choose the one that’s the prettiest to look at. Wouldn’t you?

PR (and photography) are prepared for the future

•February 5, 2008 • 1 Comment

  I’m engulfed in the book ‘A whole new mind’ by Daniel H. Pink. The bright orange soft cover book is filled with facts and stories about how the future is changing. We’re evolving from the information age into the conceptual age. Our lives and jobs will be shifting from left brain thinking (logical, linear and factual) to right brain thinking (abstract, patterns and non-linear).

 I’m tickled to hear this great news. I’m tickled because I’m a photographer and a communicator – both right brain thinking fields. Daniel H. Pink says we’re shifting to the conceptual age due to three factors: abundance, Asia and automation.

  Abundance: There’s so much of everything now. It’s not good enough to just release a functional product. It has to be aesthetic and creatively noticable. Asia: Jobs and tasks can be done much cheaper by 3rd party Eastern countries. Automation: Computers can complete certain jobs with great speed and preciseness.

  So if you have a job that can be done by a computer or done overseas cheaper or can be overlooked in a world of abundance – you’re in trouble.

  Photography and public relations are two fields that cannot fall into the abundance, Asia and automation trap. They’re safe because a computer can’t do it and Asia can’t do it (for us) either. In fact, due to such abundance of business – photography and public relations are in demand. Both disciplines help separate businesses from the competition with creativity. Especially photography. Effective, visual elements are on a fantastic rise in all businesses now. In some cases, even public relations needs photography. Try and find a company that isn’t aesthetically painted up with pictures and design elements. You can’t.

  I’m curious if anyone has noticed this trend happening. The farther I dig into this book, the more i see and believe it. The information age is already drawing to an end. 18th century brought agriculture age. 19th century brought industrial age. 20th century brought information age and 21st century is the conceptual age.

  Are we in favor of this shift? Would you consider yourself to be a right brain thinker? Do you believe the information age will end soon, and the conceptual age will begin? And are you excited to be in the public relations or photography field during this booming time?

Photographers love blogs – but can’t find them!

•January 28, 2008 • 2 Comments

About one month ago, I bought a new DSLR camera. I’m the proud new owner of a Nikon’s newest camera the D300, the SB-800 speedlight and the new Tamron 24-75 f/2.8 lens. Beauty Kit.

Blogs are still new to me. Before I purchased the pro camera ensemble, I would have loved to read other peoples blogs about Nikon’s latest release. Alas, all I could find is people posting examples of pictures (which were taken at photo shows).

The one time I could have benefited from reading blogs I couldn’t find one. So in this posting, I’d like to accomplish two things. 1) Share my thoughts on finding the right blog 2) blog about the D300

1) I wish there was a search engine just for blogs. Maybe there is. Can someone show it to me to it if such a luxury exists? I’m showing a moderate interest in blogs now, but I’m finding it difficult to truly participate in this medium. It’s almost like blogging is underground. That bloggers only know about the right blogs, because they blog.

The Internet is filled with a lot of waste. Unfinished & ancient sites plague the waves. Looking for blogs about PR or photography or about great grilled cheese recipes is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Can someone shed some light on blog searching for me?

2) My D300 is awesome. It feels, sounds and acts like a professional camera. The cameras ISO can drop to 100 and rise to 6400. In my opinion, ISO 200 gives the sharpest image. There’s lots of chatter going around that the D300 is just the D200 re-released (and is $500 more expensive). Go D300 for sure. 51 auto focus points? So good.

The one thing I wish I knew about the camera before I bought it is the RAW files it takes aren’t viewable with the Camera Raw file that associates with CS2 – you must have CS3. So if you’re in the market for a D300 or a D3, keep CS3 on your birthday list. Lightroom apparently can view them, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

Now, if Nikon (the manufacturer of the D300) released a blog about their new release, would you find it convincing? Or would you see through the transparency and realize their comments are bias? Can a company successfully and convincingly blog about their own products and services?

photos affecting stories

•January 24, 2008 • 2 Comments

Today in the Toronto Star, the front page story depicts the sad face of a bull dog “Rambo” who is fighting for his life.

  I’m curious if the public is aware of the impact that good photography has on the stories we read. Before this sad doggie story is even read, we see the sad, sad puppy dog eyes and our emotional bucket is full before we get past the headline.

  Knowing this, can we as PR practitioners use and abuse photography to skew our target audiences perspective of our story? A poorly laid out event can be buttered up as a smashing success with the aid of a single sharp image of the organizers smiling in front of their awards table.

  Do we admit that we can be affected with a single photo? Can an image move a story from one emotion to another with the right image? What do we think about this media add-on?