I’m amazed at how much effort goes into writing press releases, calling editors, staging events and how little thought goes into the photography to go with all of that. If only these companies knew how many meetings I’d sat in on where the first question after a story (or product) is pitched was “what does it look like” and then depending on what “it” looks like the story is either made or not. Get a clue people, the better the photography, the more coverage you will receive in magazines. In general this translates to spending more on photography.

I really feel like we’re headed in a direction where the PR/Advertorial images are going to have more legs than advertising because it’s something people feel like they can report on and share. Smart companies will commission several different kinds of shoots and release them to the different communities that are interested in talking about their product. If the photography is great then the conversation will travel far. This of course is good for photographers and bad for magazines (maybe photo editors will work commissioning editorial shoots for PR efforts). Magazines can’t survive on press releases, they need insertion orders to go along with them. Over the last decade as the advertising revenue has continued to tighten there’s been a slow draining of the trust consumers have with magazines, because the coverage things receive can be correlated to the advertising (with some notable exceptions of course.) Honestly, when was the last time you saw a real review of anything? Online probably.

So, when you get right down to it, reaching consumers with your message will eventually be about friends passing along a recommendation and they will be the one saying “yeah, but what does it look like”.

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  1. You only have to look at the awards FilmNZ has won for marketing New Zealand as a film location in the Location book. This is to say nothing of what Peter Jackson did in showing off the place also.

  2. It has always amazed me at how much everyone craves great imagery and yet no one (in business) wants to pay for it. Crazy. I’m soooo over it.

  3. Thanks for this blaringly truthful blog!

    As one who has modeled since age 14,
    working with the top photographers in
    Scottsdale, and Phoenix, Arizona, for the
    best agencies there, and for JF Images, in
    Denver, and Stott’s Shots in Vail, Co, this
    truth is so obvious. It’s unbelievable to me
    that it isn’t to too many now, as we see lately.

    Being in my own fitness business since 1981,
    only the best professional photographers
    in my area were behind my own public
    relations images and advertising campaigns.

    How anyone would use anything but these
    resources for the image reflecting their
    work, their dreams to realize in businesses is
    really registering on what has always sold best!

    Enjoying friendships with world class photo-
    graphers, your perspective is shared often in
    our conversations. Perhaps with people using
    their own webcams and cell phones to share
    their lives, businesses online, this idea of “reality”
    versus professionalism in imagery has created this
    abnomaly of leaving out the pros. Pros are best!

    My hope is that people will respect this tried and
    tested image by the best professionals in the field
    and reap the rewards of making an impact, giving
    this proven visually pleasing art a first priority
    focus and prosper beyond any prior expectations.


    Zna “Trainer”

  4. You are absolutely right.

    I don’t think people realize how much business and opportunity they are loosing after spending hard earned money on design, copy and than submitting “good enough” images.

    “Good enough” will kill your business

    This goes for web sites and any advertising or promotion. If imagery doesn’t catch the eye… opportunity is lost in less than three seconds.


  5. I’ve shot lots of PR related photography for a core group of clients and have seen strong images serve multiple uses: press releases (with national placement), website content, even re-use as special advertisements. The investment the production is small compared to the potential value of well made images. (which is the whole concept of PR: spend comparatively less for media placements through PR vs. buying your way into consumer advertising)

    Clients who hire PR photographers to make so-so pictures of the handshakes and ribbon cuttings are missing out on a chance to create important visual assets.

    The problem is the low cycle of expectations (and budgets) from the client which then attracts a lower talent level of photographer.

    The situation could be win-win for client and photographer: The client has the opportunity to create custom content useful in a variety of venues and the photographer can work in a field with better pay than the editorial market.

    Thanks for bringing up the topic of PR photography!


  6. Copy is legible hear-say. Image is validity.

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