In an age where the public is increasingly using digital media, there is a higher demand for visual content. As real-time news and events can be posted to social media and consumed almost immediately, the public is demanding graphics accompanied with status updates and stories. “We are living in a world where a camera is in everyone’s pocket,” states Sally Falkow, social media and digital PR strategist, “tell your story visually.”

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So, why is it so important for PR professionals and brands to change their thinking? It’s simply because so many things have changed. Image explosion was the breakout trend of 2012, and it is only going to grow. Continual technological innovations demand even more visual content and, at a consistent rate. Images can boost performance in content categories such as news, politics and sports. By adding a relevant image into an article, page views can skyrocket by 94 percent compared to articles without images.  Users are also two times more likely to comment, share or like a video than content containing no video.

If the idea of you, personally, or your team, generating visual content intimidates you, it shouldn’t.  With thousands of picture, video and editing apps, it’s very manageable to train yourself and peers to meet this demand. Video can shot, edited and distributed all on a tablet or smartphone. All content can then be uploaded and consolidated into your digital newsroom.

Not only are media professionals generating their own visual content, but journalists and bloggers say they rely on more outside content than ever before. The Pew State of the Media Study reports that 2012 newspaper newsroom cutbacks have put the industry down 30 percent since 2000 and below 40,000 full-time employees since 1978.

With the rise of self-generated content from PR pros and the decline of journalist-gathered content, a story is now a more collaborative effort. You can produce and pitch visual material that enhances and extends the story, while providing experts on the matter and additional research. Although it may seem a visual can mend any broken story, keep in mind the text is still the meat of the story. Samantha J. Villegas, APR, president of the National Capital Chapter of PRSA, has written “The PR Pro’s Pledge” which outlines 11 steps PR people should follow. Number seven states, “I will not pitch a story that is not news to anyone but my client or boss.” This is an important rule to remember not only when pitching to journalists, but also when you are adding visuals to your story. Adding a visual does mean increased interest, but not if the story isn’t newsworthy itself.

You may be wondering who in the office should be contributing to your social-creative newsroom. Community managers, editors and creative producers should always be producing a continual, timely stream of content. Blogs, twitter feeds, company info, as well as paid and earned media should also be contributing to your newsroom and clearly and easily accessible to a journalist.

Displaying your visuals won’t be beneficial if your newsroom isn’t set up properly. The page should show up in the top three search results and bloggers and journalists request the images to have embedded codes. Once you put it on your newsroom page, you can SEO the pages and promote the story independently or by using a wire service.


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