It's not what you say, it's how you say it: 3 key elements to a great PR photo

PR Photography.jpg

PR stories almost always have two common themes - they're always good news stories and they're always about people. Whether it's a promotion, a merger or simply a story about business success, at its core a PR story is about the people that made it happen.

We've all heard the phrase that "it's not what you say, it's how you say it" - and this is often true. In fact, a study conducted by UCLA relating to public speaking revealed that hand gestures account for 55% of impact, tone of voice for 38% and words for a tiny 7%.

I've had some experience of this after giving my Groom’s speech at my wedding last year, and it certainly seemed that the more enthusiastically I said something the bigger reaction I got from my guests! A nervy speaker lacking confidence, no matter how good the content, is unlikely to have the desired effect.

So how can this apply to a PR story?

Well, simply put, think of the title image as your hand gestures and the headline and opening paragraph as your tone of voice. These are crucial elements to the success of a press release and will determine how likely your audience is to read your article and take in what you have to say.

So let's take a look at the elements that make a great PR photo, specifically for a professional services firm, which, ultimately, is all about its people.

Apart from the technical side of getting a photo right (leave that to the photographer!) there are three key elements to a good PR photo, I believe these to be:

  • To look approachable.

  • To look professional.

  • To look relaxed.

Let's take a quick look at each:

Approachable. You need to look friendly and open in a PR shot. The viewer needs to imagine being able to work with you. So nice gentle smiles (not too big - we don’t want to scare anyone!) and bright eyes all around. No-one wants to look grumpy or bored in a PR shot, even if you don't like your photo being taken! As a photographer I try to provoke a reaction (a positive one of course!) when I'm taking press shots. If my subjects are having a good time then they're much more likely to smile naturally for me.

Natural smiles are always the best smiles…

Natural smiles are always the best smiles…

…and look not only warm but welcoming too.

…and look not only warm but welcoming too.

Professional. Of course, you need to look like you can get the job done. You may think this obvious, but carefully consider your attire for a PR shoot. Make sure you're in business dress, and that you feel comfortable in the clothes you're wearing. Consider the colour of a shirt, tie or dress and make sure that it complements your skin tone. Try to avoid checked patterns if possible as sometimes these can look a little distorted in a digital image.

Also, dress up even on a dress down day. I've known instances where a photographer has been booked on such a day where the individuals involved were wearing brightly coloured jumpers! Now that's fine, but perhaps not the best look for a reputable firm. Sure enough the photos had to be re-shot another day...

Whether it’s tie on…

Whether it’s tie on…

…or tie off, professional attire is a must.

…or tie off, professional attire is a must.

Relaxed. Finally, PR shots can be a bit of fun. Don't got too cheesy, but feel free to have a hand in a trouser pocket, lean against a wall or be sat in a comfortable chair. If there's a group of you, try not to all stand with the same pose - trust me, it'll look odd! Your posture will only add to that approachable smile and make for an engaging photo. As a photographer I often direct individuals - sometimes certain poses may feel a little unnatural to you, but if they look good on camera, give it a go!

Use different elements of your environment…

Use different elements of your environment…

…to look relaxed and approachable.

…to look relaxed and approachable.

There you go, a few of my thoughts on a getting a good PR photo. If you manage to nail all three of these elements, you'll be well on your way to a great shot.

Writing the article though, and that all important opening paragraph… Well, I'll leave that to you!