PR Tips on Getting the Word Out Through a Visual Medium


Danny Olson, Weber Shandwick

Communicators and PR execs are starting to ramp up their efforts to get their messages out through Instagram and Pinterest. But it’s not easy, considering that both channels are relatively new to public relations, and are visual in nature.

One way to get a better handle on visual storytelling is to create a “mood board” that should serve as a visual road map for your brand, according to Danny Olson, director of digital at Weber Shandwick.

Olson will take part in the “Not Just for b2c Brands: Visual Storytelling with Pinterest & Instagram” session at PR News’ Social Media Summit, with a Taste of Tech, on June 3 at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. In this Q&A with PR News, he provides a preview of some of the topics he’ll explore during the conference.

PR News:  How can brands of all stripes jump-start their efforts at visual storytelling via Pinterest and Instagram?

Danny Olson: One suggestion I always bring to clients is to start by identifying your brand’s social voice. Part of this exercise involves creating visual mood boards that represent the look and feel of your brand’s social image. Once this direction has been agreed upon, crafting visual stories becomes much easier—as content is being developed, ensure that its visual components fit your brand’s voice. When you place constraints on your creation efforts, you’ll find content begins to produce itself in droves.

PR News: What are some tips and tricks that brands can use to enhance the visual aspects of their communications and messaging?

Olson: Remember that you do not (usually) represent your end consumer. Build your content and communications teams with someone who looks to communicate visually first. Build a brief that lays out your communication challenge, part ways, and come back with your solutions. Chances are, you’ll have developed something that communicates beautifully both in word and image. Pair these two together, split them up and test their impact. You’ll learn a lot about how your audience best digests information.

PR News: A mythology has built up in the marketplace that B2B brands are boring and struggle with visual storytelling. Do PR managers and directors for B2B brands perhaps need a better appreciation for all the content they own and can distribute via Pinterest and Instagram?

Olson: B2B brands were many of the first leaders in using digital content as a thought leadership platform, especially in the realm of blogging. Extending this approach to include visual communications tools, if framed appropriately, should be a comfortable next step. With its direct ties to referral traffic, Pinterest can serve the same need for many of these same companies. Similarly, the engagement and organic reach percentages on Instagram make it an intriguing tool. And if anyone in the B2B world needs inspiration for creating engaging visual content, look no further than GE, which is arguably the leader in this category across any industry.

Learn more about more social media trends at  PR News’ Social Media Summit on June 3 at the Grand Hyatt in New York City.

Join PR News on April 29 for our webinar, How to Tell Your Brand's Story with Shareable Visuals.

Follow Danny Olson on Twitter: @mrdolson

Follow Matthew Schwartz on Twitter:  @mpsjourno1

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About Matthew Schwartz

Group Editor, PR News: Matthew Schwartz is group editor of PR News, the leading source of trends, how-to content and best practices for PR professionals. Matthew leads the editorial strategy for PR News’ premium content products—including its weekly newsletter—and for its digital presence. Matthew was editor of PR News from 2003-2005. Prior to returning to PR News, Matthew was a reporter for Crain’s BtoB and Media Business magazines, where he covered business marketers and media companies. He was also editor of BMA Buzz, a biweekly email newsletter covering B2B marketing, advertising and social media, and contributing writer to Advertising Age Custom. Matthew has helped to launch blogs on behalf of ZoomInfo and direct marketing agency The Kern Organization. He also spent a few years in cable-news precincts, working as a writer/producer at CNN and Fox News Channel.

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