So we’re communciators. Word and pictures mostly. Increasingly, those pictures are in the form of moving images. And those words end up in far more diverse places than they used to.
In the midst of all this modernisationn and digitisation, one simple trick seems to have done a good job of becoming incredibly effective, and yet seems to have barely figured on the radars of many PR planners.
The infographic has gone from a crude thing that newsrooms used to use to show the basic tenets of a story (think: big dot for earthquake’s epicentre, shockwave-type rings around it and the rough outline of a map that looks like it was drawn in crayon) to something more sophisticated, yet still centred on communicating something a bit complicated in a simple and digestible way.
Why has the infographic not really come into the limelight as something that PR agencies develop for their clients more frequently? Surely in some sectors, like technology or retail, where new concepts or even the basic facts can be difficult to explain, having some imagery to do their explaining rather than relying on words is a no-brainer? Yes and no. Infographics still need some commentary to back them up. But they can but very clinical in making a point clearly.
I imagine that like pictures, PR agencies just don’t put enough thought into things beyond the words. Consumer agencies tend to be better at it than business-to-business ones, but even so they can show alarmingly little appreciation of how media picturesdesks work, or what will make a good image either online or in print. Yet with the pressure for column inches, it can help lift a story off the spike and secure the exposure.
PRs need to see infographics as one of their primary communication tools these days. They can be pretty quick and easy to develop, and save the time it would otherwise take to explain things in words. Moreover, they tend to be clearer.
Here are some examples listed on Mashable of some of the best of last year. In the case of this point about Facebook’s 500 million members, it needn’t be even GCSE Art level – it looks like cut and pasting some stuff from a standard PowerPoint presentation, slapping some lipstick on and saving as a .JPEG. Not difficult.
National Geographic has done some great stuff recently on its coverage of the projected seven billion global population mark by turning the information into a simple video. And there’s some more good stuff here showing how surveys can be depicted much more interestingly than a bullet-pointed list in a (shudder) press release.
Perhaps here’s one that will best make the point about the value of infographics to PR agencies – a visual representation of whether people should do work for free.