Are Pictures Really Worth a Thousand Words?

By Bird Consultancy   |   27th October 2015

(YES … providing they’re taken right!)

I was fortunate to experience life in a busy daily newspaper newsroom recently.

Spending a week shadowing reporters, sitting alongside the news, sport and photo editors was the most enlightening moment in my PR career.

Without a doubt one of the most important lessons I learned was the importance of photography.

Quoting the deputy photo editor “A great photo can be the only reason why we choose to run the story, it’s that simple.”

As a PR professional you come up against people wanting to cut corners by using their digital cameras, iPhones or iPads to capture images for media use.

The importance of decent PR images should never be undervalued.

In a nutshell, your picture must tell your story. The reader should have a good idea of the story at first glance and should be enticed to read on.

Here are my top five tips to make sure you get the right press shot:

  • Invest in professional photography. Good photographers can advise you on the type of images that will tell your story. Research and make sure that they are experiences in securing media coverage. Former or current photo desk snappers will know exactly what editors are looking for, the best times to send photos and what photo captions will work.


  • Do your homework. Look at the kind of pictures that are being published in your key media, they all have different approaches and editorial styles. Know what will work for them and make sure the photographer takes a selection of images that fits their requirements.


  • Pick up the phone. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and speak to picture desks directly about the kind of pictures they’d be looking for. Newsrooms are over-stretched and under-resourced so if we can make the lives of journalist’s easier, all the better. Avoid manic times of the day (like 4pm at a daily) when it’s deadline time to complete the next day’s paper. Reporters at Sunday papers know what they’re working on at the beginning of the week, so a jaw dropping picture that tells your story needs to be pitched on a Monday to be considered as a stand-alone picture story.


  • Create a brief. Never assume photographers know what you’re after. Supply a brief before any shoot that summarises the organisation, purpose of the shoot and what the images will be used for. You never know, they might have good contacts at the media outlets you’re targeting!


  • Be creative. Regional and national picture editors are, frankly, besieged with photos daily. And this number will continue to grow by the day with the developments in digital photography and street journalism. Your pictures must be imaginative and stand out.

Here are some good examples of strong press photography from our Bird archive….

Community/human interest


Woman reunited with husband’s war medals – This photograph and story featured in the Daily Mail


This simple yet effective picture was used by the regional press in Cumbria

Business news & profiling


Used in national and regional business titles, including the Guardian online



Published in the Manchester Evening News, syndicated to the Mail Online