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What Does Design Have to Do with PR, Anyway?

February 24, 2017 Bradford Group Administrator

In a fast-paced world of pitch writing and pitch pitching, the field of public relations may seem design-averse, especially when compared to its counterpart — advertising. Being an on-and-off designer in my spare time, I know that I’ve spent many more professional hours writing bylined articles than creating graphics.

But if you grew up learning that design only exists in advertising or marketing and has no place in public relations, then I’ve got news for you: the times, they are a-changin’.

As PR molds to the way content is consumed, the efforts to get eyes on client news have changed as well. With social media at the height of public conversation and video content being live-streamed around the world, print and online journalism are only a couple pieces of the puzzle now.

For PR pros that may be new to design, here are three principles to remember when creating design pieces.


Design for the reader – it should be attractive, simple and legible

When designing a graphic on behalf of a client, you have to structure the piece so the reader or viewer will stay engaged. This means establishing a visual hierarchy, much like you would buildan article by headline, subhead and body. Don’t let eyes wander across the screen. The most important concept to latch onto should be the first thing the eye sees – so it may be bigger/bolder or just designed in a way to stand out. Then, make the rest of the layout easy to follow visually to keep people flowing from point to point.

In addition, any copy included in the graphic should be easy and quick to read. This means not including five different fonts in random order or using excessive color or white space. Following initial “rules of design” will ensure that your piece keeps eyeballs embedded in the content.


Design for the client – it should be well-written, accessible and focused

When requesting a graphic piece from a PR firm, a client wants two things: A) a well-designed piece that pops and catches attention, and B) a clear, concise and well-written bit of copy that gets the message across in a creative and organized fashion.

It’s important for PR pros to start by drafting copy and getting it approved by clients. It’s easier to design once the verbiage is final – or at least very close. Once it has been laid out, major copy or theme changes could change the entire look and feel.

Also, make sure to include the main ideas from the client in the piece. This could be everything from talking points included in video content to the most important takeaways included in an infographic.


Design for you – it should be consistent and polished

Want to really impress your firm and firm’s clients with your design skills? Make sure all of your results are consistent within a brand, so the graphics for each client maintain a unified look and feel.

That being said, consistency doesn’t just apply to the final layout.

Ensure that your design work is high-quality and that your projects are managed efficiently. By this I mean, don’t give unrealistic turnaround times for lofty projects or promise to complete a project in which you have no experience.

Finally, before sending your graphic work to the client, make sure it’s polished! Dot the i’s and cross the t’s and make sure that your graphic follows the principles of good design. In the end, it could make a big difference for both your career and the future of your firm.

What are your tips for graphic design in PR? Give us the scoop in the comments.

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