|by Thea Zagata|
One of the most easily overlooked tasks with my small business public relations clients is the importance of really great photography. While you’ll need some fantastic shots for your Web site, I’m only going to address photos as it relates to public relations for this post.
First up, the primary media outlets that will use your photos as part of an editorial piece will be blogs, Web sites, local newspapers, regional magazines and trade publications. The big national magazines and/or newspapers will more than likely be doing their own photo shoots with your products. However, you’ll still use your photographs in the early pitching stages regardless if they do their own photo shoots.
Good photography is a very important tool to have in your PR arsenal as it helps to bring to life your story while highlighting the unique attributes about your products. For example, I work with a fantastic company that makes cookies that are meant to be paired with wine. In a recent photo shoot they captured the following:photos of the outer packaging (including a close-up of the wine pairing guide on the side of the box) photos of the cookies individually (up close for texture and further away) highly styled shots with cookies and wine (to show the uniqueness that these cookies were made to go with wine!)
For PR purposes, I’d recommend having about four really great shots that beautifully and professionally capture the product. Of course, this is relative to the PR program and the number of products you’re pitching, etc.
I know this all sounds fine and dandy until you have to buck up for a photo shoot. While I can’t magically turn you into a professional photographer, I will say good photography is one of the most important PR tools that you will need. Skip the big fancy press kits and folders. Besides media samples, almost all correspondence is done electronically anyway.
Here are some thoughts on how to find an affordable yet decent photographer:
1. Etsy: Etsy has a feature called Alchemy where you can post what you’re looking for with your budget and members can bid on the project. This also gives you a chance to preview some of their work in advance.
2. Interns: When I was looking for graphic designers with my last business, I did a post at some of the art schools and received some responses from students who were trying to build their portfolio. Many will do it for free, but who really likes to work for free? That being said, the cost would probably be quite minimal and you’ll probably get more qualified students by offering to pay.
3. Craigslist: This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Craigslist for photographers. When I had my cookie company, I was working on a bare bones budget and I found a photographer on Craigslist who was reasonably priced and she had an attractive portfolio. I had to bring the cookies to her apartment but she had most of the props (and did the food styling herself).
For the DIY PR peeps out there, another affordable public relations option is to take your own photographs, however, I don’t recommend this unless you have some good skills and can guarantee the photos look professional.
For service-based companies, a head shot is necessary and you’ll use it over and over again for much more than simply PR efforts. I’ve included mine above, which was taken by the incredibly talented LWL member Tanzie Johnson.
Any other thoughts on photography, leave them in the comments. I’d also love to hear tips from self-taught or professional photographers as well.