Tag: visuals


The faces of the staff have been obscured to protect them from something, I guess

The photo is a slice of a larger one that graces the first page of a case study/news piece from an unnamed software company about the work they are doing with a partner for a retail furniture chain.

The piece itself is fine. Looks very polished. Has good information. But it all goes kablooey because there was obviously some issue with permissions for showing the faces of the two women that were part of the photo. Either they refused. The store refused. Or the work to get the permission wasn’t worth the bother.

My only other conclusions are that the two are in a witness protection program, or are really terrible at applying makeup.

My point – that little bit of Photoshop work to “hide” the identities completely kills the polish of the piece, and sets the wrong tone. Instead of wondering what this piece is all about, you’re left wondering what’s going on here???

You either use the photo as planned, or get another. This was a bad compromise.


The Dreaded Grip and Grin Photo

grip and grin

Not enough companies include visuals when they send out press releases and other material. This is a visual medium, and a great shot or two really adds some context and helps people get their heads around what’s being announced.

But not all photos are good. Every now and then I get what are known as grip and grin shots – two people or more staring at the camera with fixed grins, shaking hands. Or holding a check.

Resist all temptation. Tell your bosses, if they insist, that they will look goofy if someone actually runs the shot. I’d run it on my Sixteen:Nine blog, but for all the wrong reasons.

Stick to visuals that add to the story.


Is the press release dead?

No, but it’s certainly evolving, and if you push out releases, you need to make sure you are evolving with the medium.

Some keys:

1 – In this sector, press releases are not enticements to get editors to write stories. They are the stories. The formulaic corporate style of traditional press releases just annoy trade publication editors and bloggers. Remove most of the chest-beating hype and jargon and tell a story that interests them and their readers, and you’ll get play.

2 – Make it easy for them. Send the copy as text so they can copy and paste, and then edit. Include logos and web-ready images that help tell the story. If you have video, get it online so it can be embedded, easily, in the story. Do not send PDFs. Note: this is a visual business, but few companies use it to market their services.

3 – Be natural in your quotes and comments. We’ve all read quotes from executives in press releases that make you instantly think, “No one actually talks like that.” If you are manufacturing quotes, make them conversational and actually contributing to the story.

4 – Put things in context. Probably the biggest problem I see with press releases is the lack of context. I see countless releases hyping some new technical advance or doodad, but providing little or no clue as to why anyone should care. Think in terms of. “This new version of ___ will save time and money and …” THAT gets people interested.


DS PR 101: This is a visual medium, kids. Provide visuals!

I have seen multiple references today to what sounds like a very expensive, well-executed landmark installation in New York involving projection systems, 3D and a very famous building.

As much as I would like to get on the subway to get over and see it first-hand, I don’t live in Manhattan, nor do countless people who would like to understand what’s really involved with this installation.

If only the PR company had put together simple visuals. It is soooooo easy to take still photos these days and sooooo easy to shoot and post video on Vimeo or YouTube or whatever.

But there’s nothing. The release I am looking at right now is promoting the Olympics, involves four companies, and is running on PR Newswire. And the most a reader can do is download the logo from one of the companies.

It is astonishing to see so many companies waste opportunities and use press and media relations techniques straight out of 1991. A press release IS content, not just a trigger to hopefully get media organizations to produce content relating to the release.

Dumb beyond words. And expensive dumb.


Sub-optimized PR: Don’t just tell them, show them

I have a self-imposed rule that I don’t include the names of companies on this blog if I am slapping them around for being stupid or mindless in their approach.

Here’s a case of PR that is pretty well executed, albeit in a highly conventional way, but misses the opportunity at hand.

PlayNetwork is a Seattle-area company in the business of blending audio and video to create an overall experience in a retail environment – something that I believe is a huge growth part of this digital signage sector. Many chains have audio entertainment and messaging. Not that many, yet, have video. Very few have the two working seamlessly together. The guys who do that well, and reduce the overall offer down to one vendor, one bill, one throat to choke, are on to something good.

So we have Play announcing this week it’s people have deployed PlayNetwork’s Serenade Service to deliver music and messaging content in all of the Dickey’s Barbecue Pits around the US.

The original Dickey’s opened in Dallas in 1941, with a simple goal – “Serve barbecue so good people will crave it.” By harnessing the power of Serenade’s user-friendly and secure web-based interface, Dickey’s embeds that timeless mission into the music and promotional messages that play in all sites. These promotions, narrated by Roland Dickey himself, bring the heritage of Dickey’s to each individual location. Dickey’s also uses the Serenade tool to control their messaging on-hold content, extending its brand experience beyond the lease line to fans placing phone orders.

The release says the deal enables Dickey’s to serve up a uniquely Texan taste, smell, feel and sound.

To complement the popular Texas barbecue menu, PlayNetwork designed a music concept deeply rooted in Americana, mixed with a hefty dose of classic Southern rock, blues, and boogie-woogie, a Texas-style Western swing. There is no mistaking the Texas roots of Dickey’s Barbecue after listening to this home-grown collection of songs. The sounds reverberating through the restaurants are as distinctive as the taste and smell of Dickey’s Signature Beef Brisket – it’s down-home Texas barbecue.

Great. Sounds very cool.

And as a blogger who might even write about this – one of the objectives of PR – I scroll down the release looking for images, and ideally some video.


There is nothing inherently wrong in this release. The “global leader” thing makes me and other journalists/bloggers immediately yawn, but Play actually IS a global leader in this narrow part of the sector.

However, a company that is expressly in the business of teasing the eyes and ears of consumers really, really should at minimum have PR that offers images, and with the capabilities and cost of teeny camcorders and the ease of YouTube and other video channels, doing a basic video should be fundamental.

You’ve done some good, interesting work. Don’t just tell them, show them.


DS PR 101: It's a visual medium, so why are you just sending out text?

It is remarkable how much press material is sent out without visuals, in a business that blabbers on and on about content being everything.

I was just reading a release about a European software company and its new DOOH client, describing in considerable detail what’s on the screen and how the screens are located in the venues.

But there were no embedded images, and no attached image files, associated with the PR. Worse, in this case, there was  no link even to the client Website where a blogger or trade mag or portal editor might dig up visuals to juice up the story they might do.

It is so easy to shoot photos and even video these days, and post them online, that it is almost baffling that companies looking to generate attention about what they are doing don’t leverage the basic technology that’s easily available to them.  Even marginal quality video, posted to Youtube, is better than nothing.

Most of the bloggers and trade publishers you are targeting for attention with these releases have skeletal resources and crank out a lot of stuff in a day. You have a far better chance of getting attention if you make it easy for them by providing things like photos, logos, Website URLs and links to video they can embed, if they want.