Images in PR: 6 excuses and 6 solutions

Blog post  •  Aug 27, 2013 11:22 BST

We’ve found there are six main reasons why PR practitioners and businesses avoid using images as part of their communications. Well, we thought we'd suggest some solutions to these problems so you can start creating more vibrantly eye-catching and interesting content.

“Our product is boring. I don’t think it would be a good subject for an interesting picture.”

All the more reason why you should use some creative images to enliven your communications! Think of Innocent Drinks. Their product is not unique but their social media content is awash with images which are unrelated to their product but fit with the quirky image they’re trying to attach to their brand’s personality.

These images were taken from Innocent Drinks' social media posts

However, if you don’t think this would work for your brand then you should consider thinking about how you can create an emotive or humorous image in some way connected to your product. Look at this humorous example for Webroot Internet Security. 

Another tip is to write down your headline. What first comes to your mind when you read it? Have you used a metaphor? It's often easier to match a picture to a headline than the whole story.

“Professional photographers are too expensive, I can't afford to pay for photographs to accompany every press release I send out.”

Professional photographers may not always be as expensive as you think. If you plan wisely you really can get a lot for your money...

Rather than photographing on an individual campaign basis, consider making a list of all the campaign activities you will have in upcoming months so you can think about the images you might like to accompany your documents.

It is much cheaper to hire a photographer for a whole day and take a wide range of shots to build up your photo library. This collection of photographs can then be shared with your whole team so they can have easy access to photographs when they’re creating documents and presentations.

“We’re a small company we can’t afford fancy digital cameras, never mind a photographer.”

Don’t underestimate the power of your smartphone or tablet. The number of megapixels on these devices is equivalent to the digital cameras people were investing in only a few years ago. Also the quality of apps, such as Instagram, is constantly improving.

While at present the images you can produce on these devices may not be of high enough quality for printed materials, they can certainly be used across social media and in blog posts.  

“I take terrible photographs, they really wouldn’t be publishable!”  

There are two websites worth checking out if you would like to improve your photography technique.

Writer and designer Adam Dachis has put together a very comprehensive guide on Lifehacker which includes a number of lessons for use with digital cameras.  

Expert Photography also provides a surprisingly thorough Beginner’s Guide to Photography as well as over 250 other articles to help you improve your skills whether you are shooting with a camera or a phone. Definitely worth a read. 

“I can never get my photographs the way I like them. I would need to buy expensive and complicated editing software or pay someone to edit them for me.”

Photoshop is the undisputed king of photo editing. However, it's notoriously complicated and expensive. If you don’t want to fork out a whole heap of cash there are some great free alternatives.  The best options we’ve come across are and  

According to “ lives in an interesting space between very basic image manipulation applications like Microsoft Paint and robust big guys like Photoshop.” really is a credible competitor to Photoshop and what’s more it’s free. You can also combine it with Photoshop plug-ins should you feel the package is not extensive enough. Read’s review for more in-depth detail.

If you'd still rather use Photoshop but don't want to pay for the full package then try out Photoshop Elements. It's a basic version of the full package at a fraction of the price.

“I am unsure of copyright laws so I would rather avoid using other people’s images.”

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 is notoriously complicated and extends to over 300 sections. Therefore, you should avoid using other people’s photographs unless you are absolutely certain you are not infringing any copyright laws.

When you need an image in a hurry it’s tempting to jump onto Google Images, do a few searches and see what catches your eye. But of course many of the images will be copyrighted. To find images you can freely use, you need to use the advanced search and tick the usage rights option that says, “free to use or share, even commercially”. Even then, please do credit the original photographer.

The same applies with Flickr – the world’s largest photo sharing site. Go to the advanced search and select “Creative Commons: find content to use commercially.”

"I find the photographs on these online stock sites are often very cheesy."

Often it’s worth paying for stock photography, although it's true you have to look hard to find shots that aren't bland, generic or cheesy. 

There's a knack to searching on these sites. Try to think of conceptual search terms that go beyond the obvious. You might, for instance, look for metaphors from nature or perhaps the arts.

As with most things, you tend to get what you pay for. Take a look at sites like Alamy, Shutterstock, iStockphoto and 123RF – you need to find the cost/quality ratio you are comfortable with.

If you want to buy photos and use them without restrictions, make sure you search for “royalty free”.

So, these are some of our solutions. What do you think? Perhaps you have some of your own tricks to add? Let us know in the comments below.

Comments (2)

    Are you suggesting attaching images to press releases too?

    - Jen Golden - Sep 09, 2013 12:58 BST

    Absolutely! A press release is much more likely to be picked up by a journalist and published as an article in traditional print and especially online if it is accompanied by a relevant image. The more resources you can provide for a journalist the better.

    Mynewsdesk encourages the users to add a main image to all of the press releases which organisations publish through their newsrooms and the platform also gives the option to add related images too.

    - Laura - Sep 09, 2013 13:59 BST

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