How to get (more) space in a newspaper

10:45 am Public Relations

Twitter is a great tool. I love it for the interesting, relevant and useful information that others provide.  Adrian Weckler is one such fellow that provides useful and valuable information. It all started with a tweet from Adrian advising corporates not to submit head-shots for feature articles. I asked for more information and he gave me the link to this blog  posting - How to get (more) space in a newspaper.

What a fantastic article. I was so impressed by the practical, straightforward advice and I’m using it verbatim here.

Here it is - Thanks Adrian for the use of it.

How to get (more) space in a newspaper

I was impressed with Damien giving away some of his marketing stuff online the other day. In a similar spirit, I thought the following advice might be of some use to Irish companies, especially start-ups.

If there is one element that increases your company’s chance of getting space in a newspaper, it is the supply of a good picture. I don’t mean an amazing picture or a novelty picture (like Richard Branson, Michael O’Leary or Brody Sweeney), but just a competent image. It is amazing:

a) how few competent (supplied) images newspapers have to deal with

b) how few of the images sent in by PR companies — that are ultimately billed to their client — are of decent publishable quality

Many PR companies seem to send in the same, tired corporate shots: the headshot, the arms-crossed pose, the looking-up-from-the-bottom-of-the-stairs pose. In a situation where there is a choice of photography available to the editor, these will always be pushed down to the bottom of the pile. And that is a shame for you, the company: it was a good chance of getting some decent, prominent, publicity.

So what kind of shots will push you up the list?

As editor of an IT magazine and a consumer tech section in the SBP, here are the photos that automatically hit the bin (unless I’m desperate):

– Shots where you’re receiving an award from some dipshit Minister of State

– Shots in black-tie (unless you own a casino)

– Shots where you’re looking up into the camera with your arms folded

– Shots where you’re looking sideways toward the camera with your arms folded

– Any shot with your arms folded

– A studio headshot

– An amateur headshot

– Any headshot

– Any picture at all taken with your compact digital camera or digital SLR you got for Christmas. (It doesn’t matter how many megapixels it has — you take crap pictures, that’s the point. And they’re usually indoors, with a big shadow behind you.)

– Shots with your entire management team in them

– Shots with you, your customer and your head of operations in them

– Any shot with more than two people in it (it’s almost always better to have just one person per shot)

– Shots that are really low-resolution (under 150k of a jpeg, in our case)

– Images that have been cut and scanned from some publication — the quality is usually brutal

– Shots where the logo or branding overshadows the person in the shot: it doesn’t matter if the logo is simply visible somewhere

– Shots where you’re a speck in the landscape, such as shots attempting to show off how big your facility is

And the shots that are considered ‘competent’? They are:

–Full or half body shots that avoid the faux-pas listed above

– Shots on location (provided you are a good visible size in them and not a million miles away in at the bottom of some quarry)

– Shots in context: if the interview or article is about what your company does, have a selection of shots with your equipment.

– Multiple shots. Always, always, commission (and provide) a selection of shots. Sending one in because YOU have decided it is ‘the nicest’ lessens your chances

– Shots which show the subject to be fairly relaxed: photo editors see thousands of shots weekly and look carefully at the humans in them. This is generalising — and there are exceptions — but a relaxed-looking pose generally beats a stiff one

— Shots with proper lighting. If it’s an indoor shot, it’s vital that the lighting is correct. It’s the biggest issue with ‘home-made’ PR shots

To sum up, in a recession, when cutbacks will result in papers trying to restrict the amount of photography they commission, there is a real opportunity for companies to get easy coverage by simply producing a competent photograph. So why not take advantage of it? I guarantee you’ll steal a march on your competitors.

(Note that Adrian deals mostly in photos for feature articles: there can be slightly different rules for news articles. For example, headshots can be sometimes acceptable for news pieces.)

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