There have been seismic changes in the way news organisations operate over the past few years.
One of the key changes is how the media sources its images.
Few people will have been unaware of the boom in user generated content, and, in particular, the rise of the use of submitted images.
Busy news editors and reporters who have to fill websites and newspaper pages are now sourcing more and more images from social media, alongside emails from businesses and organisations.
Many weekly newspapers have no staff photographer at all, while daily news media organisations rely on a smattering of staff photographers, freelancers, agencies, and submitted pictures.
Most print editions are designed using page templates, and the choice of images to be used can often depend on the available page templates.
The reality is that if you want a photograph to appear in your local media outlet – online or in print – the method most likely to end in a good result for your business is to submit a photograph yourself. With resources spread so thinly, you can’t rely on media having the staff to attend a photocall. They are at the mercy of breaking news.
When virtually everyone has a smartphone with a camera, many of the submitted images the media receives are of a lower quality than would be necessary to have a good display in a newspaper, or on a media website.
The way your business can stand out is by providing good quality images. A good quality photograph could make the difference between your business’ story being a news in brief of 50 words, or a picture story with impact of up to 300 words.
The best way of ensuring your image is suitable for publication is to employ a freelance photographer.
If you think the cost would be prohibitive, think about how much it would cost to take out an advert in your local daily newspaper. A half page – often the size a good photograph is used in a tabloid – could cost hundreds of pounds in one edition.
If you have your own images taken, you could maximise the return on your investment by sending them out to dozens of media outlets and bloggers, should you wish. You could also share them on image-led social media sites such as Pinterest and Instagram, along with platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, and Google+.
I’ll take a look at some interesting and enlightening statistics about the impact of images on social media later on in this blog.
Don’t forget that if your image appears on news websites, it will also stay in the media organisation’s archive. This is an image which could continue to work for you for some time to come.
Treat finding a freelance photographer like any other job you’d like to outsource: get a number of quotes, take a look at photographers’ past work, and seek recommendations.
Many freelance photographers are former newspaper photographers. They have the knowledge and contacts to help your business make a splash in the media.
When it comes to the sort of images a media outlet is seeking, there are few more qualified to give you some pointers than my former colleague, Steve Phillips.
Steve is a freelance news, sport, PR, and wedding photographer. He worked in the regional press in South Wales for nearly 30 years and was chief photographer at the South Wales Argus for four years and group picture editor at the South Wales Evening Post for 11 years. He is also the chairman of the National Council for the Training of Journalists Photography Board. Find out more about his work on his website www.stevephillipsphotography.co.uk.
Here are his top tips for ensuring your images get a good show in the media:
- Always provide at least an upright (portrait) and a horizontal (landscape) photograph. Page designers or newspaper page templates are often limited to a certain shape of photograph on a page.
- Provide a choice of images…newspapers may want to use one picture on the front page which can give your story great coverage, and another or more inside to illustrate the story.
- When using a freelance photographer, ask if they have worked on a newspaper and ask for their website address. A freelance who has worked for newspapers will know the best type of pictures to take from any assignment that are likely to get published.
- Attach the photographs caption to the photograph using a programme like Photoshop – this saves work for the staff at the newspaper. Ask the photographer you use to caption their images – the best freelancers will automatically do this and will supply the images correctly captioned, attached to the images ready for use.
- If applicable, for example when sending out images of a half marathon, provide lots of images cropped ready for website use. Newspapers love to use lots of pictures from events on their websites to increase their page hit rates.
- Make sure the caption is accurate with names spelled correctly. If there are less than half a dozen people in a picture, provide full names left to right.
- Pictures should be well composed and in focus without too much wasted space. People’s faces should not be obscured.
- More creative pictures are more likely to be used. Supply creative images taken from different viewpoints or angles or through objects as well as a safe line-up image.
- Make sure you send the images in the correct format. Most newspapers will require jpeg files no more than 2mb in size when compressed. If you send raw or Tiff files they will have to be converted for use which takes time, and may result in your images not being used.
Some weird and wonderful facts about images on social media
Colour – When it comes to Pinterest, red and orange-dominated images have twice as many pins as those dominated by blue, a Curalate analysis of 500,000 Pinterest images showed. Yet, over on Instagram, blue-dominated images perform better. A Curalate analysis of eight million Instagram images showed they received 24 per cent more likes than red-dominated images. Instagram users also like one dominant colour over the use of several colours in a picture – those with one colour gaining 17 per cent more likes. On Pinterest, more colours mean more pins. In fact, 3.25 times more than images with single colours.
Galleries – Facebook just loves image galleries, rather than single images. Analysis by Pagelever showed galleries had 12.9 times more likes than single pages.
Staying power – When it comes to an image post which works the longest for you, Pinterest is king. An image-led post on Pinterest gets half of its engagement three and a half months after initial posting, the 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report said. Compare that with 24 minutes for half of the engagement for Twitter posts, and 90 minutes for Facebook posts. Tumblr posts have a “half-life” of seven days.
Shape – It will come as no surprise to those who use Pinterest regularly that vertical (portrait) images do far better than those which are horizontal (landscape). However, those which are too tall and skinny will also suffer. The golden proportion for vertical to horizontal for Pinterest is between 2:3 and 4:5, Curalate’s analysis said. Those pictures receive 60 per cent more repins than those which are very tall and skinny.
We’re still not using images enough on Twitter – Analysis by Socialbakers showed in 2014 that 47 per cent of the top tweets for engagement of the million they sampled had photographs, but only 10 per cent of tweets in total used images.
All images in this blog were taken by Steve Phillips.
For content creation, blogging, and public relations for small businesses, email Maria Williams at email@example.com. Visit her website www.wordsyoucanuse.co.uk