As PR pros we spend the majority of our time finding the right words to tell the best stories. Press releases, pitches, blog posts, award applications – they are all primarily dependent on the written word. However, as news consumption has become more reliant on digital, and therefore more visual, we have opportunities to tell our clients’ stories in another format: graphic design.
Whether or not you have received formal training on the art of graphic design, there are PR skills that transfer well into the visual world.
An eye for the big picture
When I sit down to design a graphic, ad or any other visual piece, in my mind I know how I want the end result to look. From there I have to decide which colors and fonts are appropriate and eye-catching, and which layout sends the clearest message while engaging my audience. Using the tools I have to work with, I piece all of these elements together until the image in my mind is transferred to the screen.
Pitching news takes the same approach – ideally, how would the published story look? What is the focus of the story and which elements are most newsworthy? Determine the facts that are most relevant and the structure in which to tell them that is of greatest interest to the intended audience. Piece these elements together until the story in your mind is transferred to the reporters who want to tell it.
The ability to appeal to many audiences…or platforms
On average, adults in the U.S. spend 87 hours each month browsing on their smartphones. In 2017, 14.9% of internet users strictly used mobile devices to access the world wide web. What do these figures tell us? If you weren’t already aware, our world has become highly dependent on our mobile devices.
With screens coming in varying sizes, it’s no longer enough to create one design and expect it to appear correctly no matter how it’s being viewed. For website design, this surge in popularity led to mobile versions of sites and ultimately the creation of responsive designs, when the format of the website adapts to the screen on which it is viewed. When creating graphics for multi-faceted marketing campaigns, designs need to come in different shapes and sizes for blog posts, banner ads and social media content. And by the way, they also need to transfer successfully on mobile. If not, you run the risk of your message getting lost.
On the PR side, to best tell your client’s or organization’s story, you need to adapt it to multiple outlets and audiences. How would the story keep the reader’s attention in the paper and what visual elements would appeal to TV? And with two-thirds of American adults getting their news from social media, how do you tell your story using varying character counts and formats?
With graphic design and media relations, to appeal to the masses you need to adjust the message.
On average, adults in the U.S. spend 87 hours each month browsing on their smartphones.
A knack for staying trendy
Much like in the PR world, the design industry is constantly evolving. From software updates to design concepts, styles and colors (do you know the latest Pantone color of the year?), there are always new ideas to be learned. Doing things the same way won’t get you noticed, just like sharing the same message in the same way will end up falling on deaf ears.
In our industry, the prominence of digital and social media in communication has changed not only how our stories are told but also how they are shared. Social networks are constantly creating new features and changing their functionality, so we need to stay on top of these changes to know how to best use them to share our message. And just as the way we are telling stories changes, so does the way we pitch those stories to the media. Before social media and email, the best ways to pitch reporters were via phone, fax and in person. Now you can add emails, video, Twitter, LinkedIn and probably a number of other channels to that list. Professionals who make a point to remain in the loop about changes in the industry (whether design or PR) will find it easier to navigate the twists and turns to success.
Which traits would you add to the list?