Get the Picture or Get Lost – Why PR Needs Visual Thinking

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Get the Picture or Get Lost
Why PR Needs Visual Thinking
                                 

    By Kevin Dugan, @prblog http://kevindugan.com 06.01.09

 

Get the Picture or Get Lost – Why PR Needs Visual Thinking Between PR Newswire and BusinessWire, around 2,000 press releases go out over the wires each day. Wow, 2,000 press releases! How many of those actually contain news? Noise from traditional PR tools across fragmented media channels are fueling bad pitches and stunts that have little or nothing to do with helping the client’s business. As a result PR people are struggling to help clients stand out – in any way possible. But more isn’t the solution to any problem. Better is the answer. How do we improve? We must embrace the visual. Visuals decrease our word count and increase our effectiveness. And in a Web 2.0 society it's become cheaper and easier to make our efforts über visual. The evolution of news and search is making this visual leap essential. Online News Leads the Way Since USA Today introduced us to the infographic, it’s become a powerful tool to communicate an idea simply and quickly. From print to online, newspapers continue to show PR the opportunity at hand. And yet this is more than just online storytelling. Consider experiments like SEED magazine's Phylotaxis, MSNBC's NewsBreaker or the eye-catching Newsmap. Newsgames and Newsclouds? MSNBC's NewsWare lab includes the news-infused NewsBreaker - a game that targets youth. Younger audiences are already online and usually gaming, so the successful NewsBreaker delivers the news to them in a format that matches their online consumption habits. MSNBC is also testing NewsBreaker in multiplexes to engage crowds, get them talking about it and build awareness outside of their core audience. This news and entertainment mashup is a smart example of changing to meet audience needs and lifestyles.

above: newsmap and newsbreaker Users are urging content providers to serve up more information in smaller spaces -- without losing organization and context. Newsmap, a predecessor of tag clouds, creates a snapshot of the most recent news headlines. It then uses colors to organize each story by category and by size to emphasize the breadth of coverage for each story.
©June 2009 by Kevin Dugan for more visit kevindugan.com or @prblog Page 2 of 4

Get the Picture or Get Lost – Why PR Needs Visual Thinking

The New York Times Skimmer interface mimics this approach in a simpler vein so that readers quickly decide which stories they want to see on a single screen. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Newser relies on images to get more stories across to the reader. The site's ambitious tag line is "Read Less, Know More." Sounds like good way to spend your time. Searching for News Bing and Wolfram Alpha are just part of the classic struggle to fit as many results as possible on a single page. Usually in the experimental stages, some visual engines include Spezify, CoolIris and Fichey. They all treat a search result visually whether it's text, video or picture. These results bring visitors a discovery process where they browse through images to find what they need.

above: cooliris and spezify This discovery process also sets apart The New York Times Reader 2.0, on which the Gray Lady is betting a lot of her farm. Reader 2.0 morphs offline, online and search into one experience. You can page through the day’s news before selecting a story as if you were scanning its print edition. Both Reader 2.0 and Skimmer promote well-defined search with interfaces designed to help you quickly determine what you want to read. And they’re very visual too. See What I Mean The line between content, an image search and a news search is quickly blurring. How do PR people tap into this? First by looking on our computers. PowerPoint 2007 has tools in it that can make an infographic. And the PowerPoint’s slides can be saved as .jpg files. Or try some online tools including Gliffy, Chartle or iCharts for more sophisticated options. Think in Snapshots Here’s an experiment for you – before writing another news release or pitch, visit the Flickr Related Tag Browser for inspiration. Type in your topic and compare it against current event keywords like "swine flu," "H1N1" or "bankruptcy." It's interesting to see which pictures people post on these topics. Even Google is experimenting with search terms that are “related” using its visual Wonder Wheel. For extra credit – after brainstorming use a story board to outline the key points of your document. Looking at your content in a whole new way is going to help improve it.

©June 2009 by Kevin Dugan

for more visit kevindugan.com or @prblog

Page 3 of 4

Get the Picture or Get Lost – Why PR Needs Visual Thinking

above wonder wheel and flickr related tag browser Cut Through the Data Smog, Don't Add to It Content is changing to meet the demands of a mobile, time-starved world. We’re seeing it broken down into easily digested sound bites, headlines and visuals and then shared all around the Web – a global phenomenon. News and search are becoming ever more visual in an effort to help curate and catalog huge amounts of information for a curious and ADD-enhanced public. PR people had better think visually about their stories so viewers gather as much intelligence as possible from a single glance. Thinking visual is, effectually, thinking about success.

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©June 2009 by Kevin Dugan

for more visit kevindugan.com or @prblog

Page 4 of 4


				
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Description: PR People must embrace the visual. Visuals decrease our word count and increase our effectiveness. And in a Web 2.0 society it's become cheaper and easier to make our efforts über visual. The evolution of news and search is making this visual leap essential.