Articles Tagged with photo

Who is that? Or how to waste journalists’ time

Who are they? | Supply a caption when sending photographs to journalists
Many journalists don’t have much time. They are often working to tight deadlines so have to get information fast. As many publications reduce staff, often they have to produce the same amount of material with fewer people.

This means that everything you can do to help journalists by providing interesting, good quality, detailed and accurate information gives your material a greater chance of being featured.

Who is that in the photo?

One of the most common pieces of information I have to chase up is the caption for a photo.

Many press releases are sent with accompanying photographs, but all too often there is no caption detailing the subject or naming the people pictured. Or perhaps the people are mentioned, but there is no clue as to who is who.

I have to know who is in the photo as it could be the wrong photo and include someone else entirely. This means sending an email or calling if I’m approaching my deadline.

This takes time, not a lot, but time that I would rather spend more productively on interviewing someone or writing.

Detail who and what are in your photo

When sending photos to journalists, it’s good practice to provide a caption.

Say who is in a photo and if there is more than one person, list them in order, eg (from left). It’s also a good idea to give their titles, eg managing director of [your company], so that the journalist can see the relevance of the photo to your press release.

It sounds like a small detail, but is quite important. Your photo might not be included if the journalist can’t be sure who or what it is.

It takes just a few minutes to write a caption.

Did you take my best side?

Did you take my best side? | presumeWhat do you look like?

Perhaps not a question we get asked every day, but often a journalist will ask for a ‘headshot’ – a portrait photo of your head and shoulders – to accompany an article you feature in.


Because we like to see what someone looks like.

Have you ever listened to someone speak on the radio and wondered what they look like? I find that I create a mental picture of announcers I hear year after year. Often when I do see a photo of them, they look nothing like how I imagined them.

Anyway, it’s always good to have a recent headshot ready to email with your press release.

A professional image

It’s best to get some professional portraits done, but now digital cameras can produce high quality results if you know someone good at taking photos.

To smile or not to smile?

Take a variety of shots and poses: some formal in a suit, if appropriate, and some more casual.  Smile in some and look more serious in others. I know, smiling to order is so difficult and I end up grinning inanely at the camera. An experienced photographer will put you at your ease to produce a photo that will look good in a high quality magazine.

Why a variety of photos?

To suit the tone of each publication and  article. If you’re writing about budget cuts, you probably won’t want a happy, smiling photo, whereas if you’ve just won an award you’ll want to look happy.

Select a clean background

If your office or workplace is a mess, make sure you prepare a uncluttered background. I find messy backgrounds very interesting and tend to examine them while ignoring the subject of the photo. If you have a pop-up banner or display board, pose in front of that.

Make sure that whatever is in the background does not detract from the image you want to project. It doesn’t take much to manage.

Keep your photos current

Yes, I’ve reached that time of life where I value each hair more every day: a receding hairline and a change to grey. I have a favourite photo taken about seven years ago, but I don’t use it any more because people would notice the fine head of hair now missing. Be realistic.

Be recognised

If you’re working to establish yourself as an expert in your field, a photo will help achieve this. People will spot you at events and come up and talk to you. Isn’t that great instead of having to work yourself up to introducing yourself?

Headshots are really useful in your PR.

Do you have a photo that will put you on the front page?

Do you have a photo that will put you on the front page?It’s a question I often have to ask when putting together my weekly newspaper pages. I receive an interesting press release, but there’s no picture to go with it.

How many times have you started to read an article because the accompanying photo grabbed your attention?

Do the same with your press release to get people reading your news.

What types of photo are suitable?

I always say ones that are interesting. I used to lay out a monthly magazine which had a new appointments page. Sending a good photo usually ensured inclusion on the page. After all, no editor wants their publication to look shoddy.

A high quality, interesting photo is a gift to journalists.

If your press release is about a new appointment, include a photo of the person (yesterday I had to ask for a photo from a law firm announcing a new appointment).

If it is about a new product, many general publications will prefer a photo of it in use, while technical or industry magazines could just want a photo of the ‘thing’ on its own. Look to see the type of photo each publication features and take a variety of shots to suit them all.

Generally, photos with some action or suggested movement look more interesting than people standing around looking uncomfortable.

Arty photos using light and angles creatively can provide creative interest, although some publications could find them too ‘way out’. Again, consider what each publication is looking for.

Professional vs DIY photos

A good professional photographer should be able to come up with lots of ideas for good photos and use their knowledge of technique, lighting and equipment to come up with stunning shots.

If you can’t afford professional photography, take your own. While many mobile phones now take photos at a higher resolution than previously, use the best equipment you can. Carry a compact camera with you and take photos during the course of your day or, if you want, carry a digital SLR.

Capture your people at work to provide natural scenes or capture fleeting moments when lighting creates interesting atmospheres at different times of the day. You never know what opportunities will occur and these will give you a library of photos to use when you need them.

It will also enable you to capture surprise photos like the one on this page I took when the driver of a car coming towards me too fast lost control and  flipped it on to its roof (no one was hurt). You won’t always be able to use the photo in your business, but you never know. At least you won’t say: “I wish I had my camera with me.”

Combine words and pictures

They say a picture can tell a thousand words, but often it will need five hundred words to tell the whole story. This is what your press release does.

What’s the view like from over there?

What's the view like from over there?Sometimes it can be tough to come up with new ideas for PR and marketing.

You look around and see many people talking about the same things. It can reach the point where you don’t even click on articles to read them because you’ve seen three covering the same topic already.

Where can we find inspiration?

The photo opposite made me realise how we can look at something very familiar and see it in a completely different light.

“What’s that?” Mrs Z asked when she saw it.

When I told her, she was quite surprised. She wasn’t surprised that I had taken the photo. I am interested by patterns and textures, light and shade, and often experiment with photos to see how they will come out.

You can apply this approach to public relations too. When I am editing my weekly business news for a local newspaper, I am always looking for different angles. For example, a business will send a press release about being nominated for an award, not realising that in one week I could be covering four separate awards schemes and will likely amalgamate those stories into one article. If there was something in their press release that stood out, something really special, or a photo more interesting than people shaking hands and holding trophies, I would take more interest immediately and give their story more prominence than the others.

So when preparing a press release, focus on what is different. Look at your story from a reader’s view, a customer’s view, an employee’s view or any other view to get different ideas. Thousands of businesses win awards, so what’s different about how you won yours? What is it that makes you stand out from everyone else? Have you got a photo that’s different? You can apply this approach to any topic, eg achievements, events, new appointments, product launches.

I almost cry out with joy when I do receive something that’s different.

Try it and see what you come up with.

Any ideas of what the photo is?

It’s the loose tea in our tea caddy.

What is the best file format for sending a press release?

I’ve just received a press release embedded in a PDF. It’s deadline day and to get the news in for the next issue I have to edit the text fast. I’ve got to open up the PDF and export the text or copy it.

Sometimes it works well and sometimes it picks up formatting, line breaks and other odd characters that need deleting or sorting out. It takes time and takes my attention away from the story. I could be phoning the sender to ask more questions instead of fiddling about on my laptop.

As a newspaper journalist how do I prefer to receive press releases?

In my experience, the best format for sending a press release is as the body text of an email. I can copy this and paste it straight into a text editor or word processing package.

The first thing I do is get rid of any text formatting, so don’t use fancy typefaces: often they simply make a press release more difficult to read.

How do I like to receive photos?

Just as text in PDFs can be awkward to extract so photos can be difficult to export. Generally, if someone embeds a photo in a PDF or a Word document, I ask them to send a separate file, preferably a high resolution JPEG.

Isn’t this being fussy?

Perhaps it doesn’t sound much, but when dealing with 10 or 20 press releases, this extra work adds a lot of extra time.

And it is a pure joy to receive a press release that can be used quickly and a high quality photo that jumps out of the screen.

It excites me and makes me take far more interest in the story.

Eliminate anything getting in the way

In my view, it’s best to eliminate any barrier that can hold back the excitement that a good story can create. Also, if you help journalists do their job and make it more enjoyable, they are far more likely to call you when they want comment or material.

That can only be good for your PR.

These are my experiences, but what are yours? What do you think works best?

• Robert Zarywacz is co-founder of pressme, business writer for the North Devon Journal and editor of #ndevon magazine.


Not looking too good

Robert and Simon ZarywaczWhen you send a press release to the media, do you send a good quality photo with it?

By good quality, I mean a portrait shot taken by a professional photographer who understands lighting or, at the least, a clear photo taken on a camera at a high resolution.

In my role as a business writer for a newspaper, I still receive poor quality photos, some taken on mobile phones with low resolution cameras. Sometimes even marketing and PR professionals send these, which astounds me. When this happens, I have to ask them to send a better quality photo.

A high resolution, well composed photo with interesting subject matter can be very powerful. It can persuade a journalist to include an article based on the press release simply because they want to include the image.

Another good practice is to send the photo as a separate JPEG file and not embed it in a Word document or PDF. Often this results in a call or email to send the original file.

As to the composition and lighting, I’ll leave that to the professional photographers, whose expertise and art I admire.

A good photo will make you look good and it’s easy to arrange with a bit of thought and planning.

Here’s one of the z2z brothers.

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