Adding A Photo To Your Press Package

Want to add some meat to that press release? Consider these hints for creating a great PR photo.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the August 2000 issue of Subscribe »

Editor's Note:
Last month, we introduced you to the basics of press releases in "The Cardinal Rules Of Creating A Press Release." This month, we're continuing the PR lesson. Learn how to create a PR photo in "Adding A Photo To Your Press Release;" in "PR Protocol," we'll help you pitch your story with proper etiquette.

All media, including your local newspaper, are always on the lookout for good photos for publication. Of course, the operative word here is "good." Most editors don't want the typical "grip and grin" shots that show a smiling group of people lined up stiffly in a row or run-of-the-mill product shots. Those will almost certainly end up in the trash.

With this in mind, PR Newswire has created a Web site to increase the industry's successful use of photos and to help all of you news neophytes out there create better quality photos that will increase your chances of being published. Located at, the site features photo distribution and archive services, as well as a professional photographer locator. The site will soon feature tutorials on topics such as how to scan photos, an idea gallery of "good" photos and access to a full array of picture solutions.

"We live in a visual age," says Hal Buell, a consultant with PR Newswire, a former Associated Press photo editor and the author of several photography books. "But using photographs to help bolster PR efforts still remains a mystery to most professionals outside of the automobile and entertainment industries. Others don't seem to realize the importance of sending messages with pictures. A good photograph will not only capture the reader's imagination, it will also have a lasting impact."

According to Buell, heeding the following tips will help you visually pump up your release:

  • Whenever possible, hire a professional photographer. It's worth the cost. Work closely with him or her by explaining the message the photos need to convey and allowing him or her to do what's necessary to create the result you want.
  • Create a caption. Unlike the press release or story, a caption briefly identifies those in the picture and provides the news peg.
  • Keep a supply of portraits of yourself handy, but don't limit these to headshots only. Action portraits of you or your employees at work, your product in use, or maybe even one of you on vacation make more of a statement.
  • Don't mass mail 500 prints of your picture. If you're planning a mass mailing, most media outlets prefer that you use a distributor like PR Newswire or Business Wire to transmit the photos digitally directly to photo editors.
  • Forget black and white photos. Color pictures are used almost exclusively on the front pages of newspapers, and always on television and throughout magazines.

Julia Miller is a Los Angeles-based writer who specializes in business and marketing. She can be reached at

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