Pictures have become more important than ever in the age of scrolling news, Instagram and Snapchat. Thousands of images arrive at picture desks every day so communications professionals need to know what makes a powerful shot to have any chance of getting their commissioned images into the news media.
I’m married to a press photographer so, in my household, there is no escaping the value of images. As a journalist who has worked across newspapers, magazines and online, I’ve been trained to always think in terms of pictures and I asking myself constantly what images can go with whatever story I’m working on. Although not every print story will carry an image, a strong image can make or break a story. Here are some of the key reasons why:
1 It can ensure your story has more space in a publication
An image-led story will potentially take up more space in your target print publication. If you have a poll press release that can be reduced to a nib (news in brief), including a Dropbox link to relevant pictures that add to the story could make it into a page lead.
2 Online outlets need images with every story
Websites such as Mail Online require a minimum of five images (and often many more!) to go with each news story so if your idea does not have images it doesn’t stand a chance of getting in. Similarly, BBC online and other digital brands depend on strong images and there will be pictures with almost every single story. Whereas print has limited space, blogs can take (almost!) unlimited images if they are good enough.
3 The picture can become the story
A well-thought out and newsy picture stunt can become the story itself. Check out this one of a replica of The Kiss carved out of Marmite which got tons of coverage including a whole spread in the Evening Standard. Pardon the pun…
And who can forget the picture shot by a well-wisher of the Fab Four Royals – Kate, William, Megan and Harry which scooped all the professional photographers waiting for the money shot.
Don’t forget about the file size
Do think about the file sizes when sending in pix. If you are sending pix with a pitch then you can send small res files, send a link to high res images, or let the journalist know that higher res are available. For online publications, low res Instagram pix are fine but if you are pitching to a newspaper of magazine you will need high res (above 2MB). Anything less will look rubbish in print.