Public Relations Trends: How to Explode Your PR with Visuals

Posted by Wendy Marx

Public Relations Trends_ How to Explode Your PR with Visuals

Visual content is one of the public relations trends that has exploded recently. Put simply, if your content doesn’t include a visual component, you’re losing a huge chunk of your potential audience!

People are more visual than ever in their communications -- think emojis, GIFs, and video calling. So it's unsurprising  that this has trickled down to business to business public relations and communications.

Yeah, sure, visuals may take extra effort, but you'll be well-rewarded by journalists, bloggers, and prospects. 

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Why Are Visuals So Important?

Let’s break this down a little. Say you’re in front of a business’s physical door -- what is more likely to draw you in? A long paper posted on the door, singing the company's praises? Or a poster or some other visual showing how the business will improve your day-to-day professional life? Personally, the latter would engage me more -- and I’m not alone!

Consider this stat: People process visuals 60,000 times faster than they process text. Add to this the fact that 65% of people today are visual learners, and that color visuals increase readership of a piece of content by a whopping 80%. It's no wonder that visuals are one of the fastest growing PR trends in recent years!

These statistics show the powerful impact that visuals have on audiences. If you’re not using visuals, you’re only hurting yourself.

Visuals are intrinsically linked with human emotions.Tapping into those emotions is a key part of public relations, and an excellent way to boost such PR metrics as engagement and lead generation. Numerous studies have shown the effect of images -- and even certain colors -- on people’s actions and purchase decisions.

What kinds of eye-popping visuals can you use in your pr campaigns and other content? Here’s just a few examples of how you can get more visual:

  • Blog images
  • Graph or charts
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Product demos

Now that we’ve considered why visual content is important, let’s now look at 5 actionable ways to be more visual in your PR campaigns.


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1. Use More Video

Video is a tool that gains more and more traction every year. However, some hesitate to implement it in public relations thinking the time and resources aren't worth the effort. That belief couldn't be more wrong.

With the prevalence of smartphones, tablets, and new technology, making video has never been easier. Shoot short segments from your phone or tablet, and use inexpensive software or apps like Powtoon or Animoto to transform your footage into a professional-quality masterpiece.

Would you like to learn how to do a PR campaign that leverages video? Consider some of the ways you can use video to draw in prospects and customers?

  • Product demos
  • How-to segments and tutorials
  • Audience Q and A
  • Behind-the-scenes tour
  • Case studies

Consider this example from Salesforce. Their customer success story really comes to life in this case study video. What would have otherwise been just words on a page pulls at our heartstrings with a real customer's voice, professional-quality video graphics, and appropriate background music.

Let's now take a look at another example from HubSpot. Here this inbound marketing company shows exactly how to do a PR campaign with video. Their use of fun animation to overlay their real-life video underscores the importance of their point -- that the marketing scene is changing, and companies need to get on board.

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2. Include Visuals in Your Pitch

This PR trend even ripples out to how you engage with journalists.

Journalists are often under a tight time crunch to produce articles that will speak to their audience on an emotional level. Visuals help them to do so. When they come across pitches with no visual content to speak of, they’re looking at a tighter time crunch to write the story and produce their own visual content.

Whenever you assemble your pitch, think about how to make it more visually accessible. Do you have stats and figures that can be conveyed in a chart or graph? If it’s a product launch, do you have how-to videos that explain your product in an engaging way? Can you create a colorful infographic that summarizes the key points of your pitch?

However you choose to do it, visual content has a vital place within your press release. Journalists have been known to work with companies repeatedly based solely on the visual content they receive.

Rather than simply inundate a journalist with video content, we recommend asking permission as part of your pitch. Simply mention that you have an infographic or whateve your visual element is, and say you'd be happy to share it.

When you do send it, ensure that your visual content is easily accessible. Double check every downloadable link. Make sure that content is sized appropriately to send via email. And everything should be sized appropriately for journalists and bloggers to use right away.


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Take IBM as a superb example of this. Not too long ago they released a news release unveling its first-ever global trade digitization solution. The company's news release not only clearly identifed contact information and resources, but also included the following infographic to underscore the impact of the solution on industry.

Infographic The Paper Trail of a Shipping Container.jpg

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3. Branding

Every visual you create -- from infographics to video -- gives you a branding opportunity. Visual content is great way to slip your brand’s logo and coloring into your message. Every piece of visual content should represent your brand well, no matter where it is posted or who reads it.

Consistency across all of your visual content is another key to successful branding. From blog images to infographics, your visuals have the power to engage.

Emarketer is a great example as the research firm uses its charts and graphs to imprint its brand on its audience.. Every chart or graph is immediately recognizable in terms of its red and black design -- just check this one out. 


Chart From eMarketing.gif


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4. Use Colors Wisely

Colors have the potential to impact your audience -- in good ways as well as bad. The colors you choose can make the difference between a click-through or a pass. They even have the power to influence purchase decisions.

So how can you wield that power successfully? Learn more about the psychology of colors and how they impact your audience.

Choose what message you want to convey to your audience. For example, green is often associated with competence, reliability, and intelligence. Red, on the other hand, is often associated with exciting, trendy, and cool.

Take this logo from Salesforce as an example. Blue is often associated with sophistication and class -- the kind of confidence and attitude that a cloud computing company like Salesforce would want to portray.


Or consider this logo from Recast Energy, an energy company that focuses on turning biomass into green electricity and thermal energy for industrial businesses. Its  two-tone green logo plays off of the energy field that they operate wtihin, and highlights its go-green initiatives. Plus, it imprints a sense of competence and reliability that customers look for in energy companies.

Recast Energy.png


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5. Always Be Honest

None of us like click-bait -- it’s dishonest and downright frustrating! So don’t do the same thing with your images.

You wouldn’t write a title that had nothing to do with your blog. So why would you create an image that was misleading or even completely misrepresented your topic?

Choose images that complement your written content.

This shouldn’t quelch your creativity or the emotional impact of the image on your audience. For example, say that you’re a B2B financial institution with a blog post on 10 Wise Business Spending Practices in Today’s Economy. You could choose an image for that blog that resonates with the pain points of your audience -- the stress and worry that budgets and spending create for business owners.

On the other hand, an image of a businessman in a gigantic pool of money might misrepresent the overall message of your post. Think about what your image portrays in the first glance, and if that's not your intended message, change it.

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Key Points to Remember…

  • People process visuals faster and more effectively than text
  • The colors you choose can have a major impact on the purchase decisions of your audience
  • Use video to present product demos, tutorials, case studies, and more.
  • Always include your brand’s logo on every piece of visual content.

These public relations trends are just a hint of how visual content is exploding in the world of business to business public relations. How do you plan on taking advantage of this trend?

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Oct 9, 2017

Wendy Marx

Wendy Marx is the founder and president of Marx Communications, a boutique inbound marketing and public relations agency. An award-winning B2B public relations pro, she has helped many small- & medium-sized firms (SMBs) become well-known industry brands and transform their businesses, going from Anonymity to Industry Icon™.

Her business articles have appeared in The New York Times, InformationWeek, Inc., Advertising Age, & Fast Company, among other outlets. 

View all posts by Wendy Marx