01 October 2012
Helen Westgate, Director

PRs - forget pictures at your peril

Kelly Brook DFDS Dover

In the incredibly fast moving media world in which we PRs operate, the importance of the photo story element should never be underestimated in any campaign. 

In an ideal world, I believe that all the releases and features that we generate for our clients should always be sent out with a picture to also tell the client story, but visually.

This week there has been a very interesting development. Marie Claire, the monthly women’s magazine owned by IPC, carried a video ad for a Dolce & Gabbana fragrance in its October issue. Yes – that’s right! A video ad running in a magazine! 

When the reader opened up the pages of Marie Claire, they saw a 45 second ad with sound. An incredible innovation on behalf of Procter & Gamble, the owner of this fragrance, and one that points to the direction that all of our media is heading. 

As more and more of us receive our daily news digest online each morning, whether on a mobile or a tablet, we are just as likely to read about news stories each morning as watch filmed footage of each story. Broadcast news is no longer only available on TV. You only have to look at the Mail Online to see the increasing number of video links containing relevant footage that are now being included at the bottom of news stories.

This blend of the written word and video means that for PR professionals, the media environment now facing our clients is becoming increasingly challenging.

Not only do we have ensure that all written client messaging is prepared and finalised, we must also ensure that both still and moving images will be available to go with a planned story. This means all manner of things, from submitting filmed interviews with clients, case study features or sourcing relevant archive footage, to go with the releases that we send out. 

One PR tactic that is definitely changing is that old favourite - the photo call. Now, photo calls must become moving events or “happenings”. They are no longer merely static stunts, just aimed at the lens of the still photographer. To make an impact with broadcast cameramen, things need to move. If a photo call is not run as a mini event, it just won’t be featured.

Earlier this year, we ran a multi-media photo call with Kelly Brook to promote our client DFDS Seaway and its new route from Dover to Calais. In staging the photo call, we ensured that all the needs of the photographers were met. Kelly was a busy girl that morning on the dock, as she spent as much time standing for the stills photographers as breaking open bottles of champagne for the broadcast cameramen, who she then showered with the champagne although they didn’t seem to mind! The important thing is that they had something fun and interesting to film, which summed up the nature of this client launch and was why it served as a visual focal point in all the subsequent broadcast coverage.

I remember right at the beginning of my career talking to a TV journalist about a client. I had got his interest but he said to me, “That’s all great but what have you got in terms of footage to tell the story?” In my view, this emphasis on the visual is going to become even more dominant than it already is. 

The interesting development is that we need to think just as much about the video elements of our clients’ stories when we are selling into print/online media, as we do when we contact the more traditional broadcast channels. If we PRs don’t take this all into account when formulating ideas at the programme planning stage, our clients will lose out in achieving the goal of high impact and targeted coverage.


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