Pics or it Didn’t Happen: Photography and the World of PR

Have you ever heard those famous words “pics or it didn’t happen?” Perhaps you’re more familiar with the phrase, “a picture’s worth a thousand words.”

Do these words really ring true for a PR professional?

In today’s society, it’s no surprise that photography has become an everyday part of life with the influx of technology and the abundant access to smartphones. Just about every third grader in America either has a smart device or knows how to use one and while that’s scary, it’s also the direction society is moving. According to Pew Research, “Roughly three-quarters of Americans (77%) now own a smartphone” (Smith, 2017). Just because most of those smartphones possess 12 megapixel cameras, however, does not automatically mean that the person behind the button is taking a PR worthy photo. We live in a world where applications like Instagram are littered with pictures of last night’s latte and yesterday’s shopping haul, but what does this all mean in the realm of Public Relations?

Humans are naturally very visual people. It’s just the way it is. In a matter of seconds their brain will automatically decide if they like a company, business, or product simply based on the visuals they see. In a study published by Behaviour & Information Technology, scientists found that “visual appeal can be assessed within 50 milliseconds, suggesting that web designers have about 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression” (Lindgaard, Fernandes, Dudek, & Browñ, 2006). It doesn’t take a scientist to know that 50 milliseconds is not a whole lot of time to make a positive impression. Professional photography and graphic design are so important in catching the initial attention of your target audience because whether it’s your social media feed, website, or publications that they are looking at, it all reflects on the image of your brand. When a picture is worth a thousand words, why use more words than you absolutely have to?

Su Carroll, Executive Features Editor of Western Morning News writes, “Photography is vitally important to the presentation of a story, especially if that’s the only thing that separates you from the competition” (Jelier, 2013). By pairing great imagery with great writing, a story has a much higher chance of getting noticed.

When it comes to a brand, it’s extremely important that a photograph represents the image or message that the business is trying to portray. Unprofessional images tend to portray unprofessional companies. Regardless if a business has the most skilled employees or offers the most advanced services, visual cues will make the first impression of the company before a single word is even read. Chalk and Ward+, an advertising firm in England with over 15 years of experience notes, “Why waste a great story or PR opportunity by submitting a photograph that doesn’t live up to the story and will limit the amount of coverage you then get?” (Jelier, 2013).  By creating a professional database or stockpile of images that represent and reflect your company’s message, every aspect of your business can be accessed at the touch of a button when it comes time for a PR opportunity.

When it comes to PR, the difference between a good photo and great photo is being published on the front page. Don’t be another inside story. Combine the worlds of great photography with incredible PR to make the most out of every story.


Jelier, B. (2013). A Picture’s Worth-The Importance of Photography in PR. Chalk & Ward. Retrieved from

Smith, A. (2017). Record shares of Americans now own smartphones, have home broadband. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from

Lindgaard, G., Fernandes, G., Dudek, C., & Browñ, J. (2006). Attention web designers: You have 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression. Behaviour & Information Technology25(2), 115-126. doi:10.1080/01449290500330448


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