Journalists say PR photos vital to modern news cycle

No matter how strong your content is if there isn’t a high quality, free-to-use photo to go with it then it might struggle to achieve the coverage it deserves.

That’s the conclusion of a new survey by Holyrood PR. The agency questioned* more than 120 frontline journalists to establish how important it was for PR stories and pitches to be accompanied by images.

The results reveal that a significant majority of journalists – from newspaper editors to freelance journalists and online reporters – say photos are one of the most important ingredients in achieving coverage success.

Almost 85% of journalists said PR photographs were either essential (35%) or very important (49.6%) to catch the attention of a professional in a busy news operation.

A similar number agreed that it was essential (31.7%) or very important (52.9%) when asked “how important are good-quality and free to use images in helping a story make it into the printed product (newspaper or magazine)?”

The results were similarly decisive when journalists were asked how important a role ‘free to use’ PR images were in helping a story to appear online – with 41.8% classing images as “essential” and a further 39.3% saying pictures were “very important” in achieving web coverage.

Scott Douglas, Director of Holyrood PR, which is based in Edinburgh, Scotland, said: “Our own experience told us very clearly that high-quality PR photography will dramatically enhance the chances of achieving coverage.

“However, that was based on gut feeling and we wanted hard evidence. As a PR agency, we have a vested interest in getting this right and being able to advise clients with confidence how good images can help their stories achieve coverage.

“Even we were surprised by just how emphatically this was confirmed by journalists at every level, covering news, business, health, motoring and special industry sectors. While the results were anonymous, we got feedback from journalists on newspapers, trade magazines, web only publications and social media sites. It really was wide ranging.”

Of the 123 respondents, 33% described themselves as print/online/multimedia journalists. Another 26% classed themselves as news planners/news editors, while 24% were senior news executives, including editors. The rest of the sample included production journalists, freelances and photographers.

A number of journalists also offered their views on the survey – in particular calling for greater understanding among PR professionals about the growing media need for high quality, free-to-use PR images.

Mike Watson, Editor of Scottish Business News Network, said his titles only published landscape format images. While happy to download images from Dropbox or similar services, he discourages ‘selfies’, though still occasionally receives them.

He added: “We always need a photo for a story. If the agency doesn’t supply a photo we will normally just use the LinkedIn photo from the main quoted source. The agency and client thus lose control of the quality of the picture which can impact on the brand value.”

The full survey results can be downloaded here.

* Research carried out in conjunction with offering clients a discount photography deal in partnership with Wullie Marr.

Image courtesy of pexels

Rob Smith
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The editor of Influence, I'm a reporter with a background in business journalism.

Posted in Editor's Picks, Public Relations

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