If a photograph is worth a thousand words, it ought to be worth $1,000, right?
It only seems that way to most journalists, who desperately need visuals for their content but wind up falling way short when it comes to finding the money to pay for their desires. Budgets have dropped, but the number of outlets has increased as amateur news gatherers with incredibly large followings take on big budget newspapers, cable stations and even established news websites.
Both print and, especially, online journalists need easy access to good photography if you want them to get the word out about your product or event.
Unfortunately, that recipe is all-too-elusive for many companies and services. Most news outlets barely have the budget to buy their own point-and-shoot cameras, let alone enough cash sitting around to be able to hire a professional at a four-figure-a-day rate (plus per diem!). As a result, they often wind up without any photography to illustrate stories, an especially difficult case when it comes to online publications with plenty of room for multi-image galleries. Stories that they would otherwise deem important are relegated to poor positions because they didn’t have visuals.
The easy solution to this dilemma falls on your ability to make images readily available to members of the media. Reasonably high quality images aren’t hard to shoot; they just take some time. Learn the basics of a moderately-priced digital SLR camera, set the scene up properly and you’re probably going to get decent stills of your own product. If it’s an event or a service you want to shoot, you might want to hire a professional – a local photographer might be willing to give a more reasonable rate in exchange for ownership of some of the content you don’t choose to use. Make sure you own the photos you want to use, however!
From there, it’s all about distributing your photos to members of the media. You can sit back and wait for requests, but that won’t reap benefits very quickly and it makes you seem rather aloof. Instead, being proactive by sending out relevant photography with news releases makes everyone’s job easier. If an outlet has good photography to work with, they are considerably more likely to publish the content simply because all of the pieces fell quickly into place.
For archival images, a dedicated media site – or at least easy access to an FTP server – makes downloading photos a cinch for members of the media. You can even provide photography with a strict embargo date to trusted members if you don’t want word reaching the public until after a major announcement.
After an event, make photos available to the media and make sure to identify any important guests or executives pictured – otherwise, you’ll spend half your day fielding phone calls all asking the same question!
Of course, there are a few things you aren’t going to want to do if you want to make your photography easy to use. Don’t put watermarks on images; let the outlet watermark their own photography, for example. Also, when you’re setting up a media site, make it easy to use. A complex design with all sorts of bells and whistles might look good to you, but reporters and art directors need to be able to efficiently download photos. Finally, don’t waste your time with subpar photography. You’ll be surprised with the places your photos will end up – in beautiful magazine layouts, spread across wallpaper galleries online and even in enthusiast websites, when the product is appropriate.
It’s simple: If you scratch the media’s back with accessible photography, they’ll provide the extensive coverage you need.