Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Don't waste your money on visuals

Does this get your attention?
“We covered this event last year, let’s just run the same story,” have you ever heard this before?  Of course you would write a new story and find a new angle so the audience will want to get the story.  Another reason you create a new story is otherwise you might not have a job very long.

“Last year we covered it, let’s get a writer assigned to it and just use some of those visuals we had from last year,” is something I hear way too often.  If you think about it, this is why when you pull the analytics on a story, you see most readers never clicked to read the story or they spend less time than normal on the page.

If the visual looks like something the audience has seen before, many in your audience will assume they have already read that story.  Remember all the research says that the visual is the first place most of your audience will look.  If it is the same as last year and yet you have written a new story you have wasted your money on the writing.
Is this more effective with the light on the face?
One of the biggest things that professional communicators are asked to do is the cover the same events year after year and each time to cover it like it was their first time covering it. It actually is quite easy to cover that event the first time, but as most pros know it takes a lot more creativity the more and more you cover something.

The writer looks for a new lead for the story. We work for a new headline to grab your attention for something you have seen over and over.

Which one do you like more above? Ever thought you could use one one time and the other another time?
All the analytics for most websites continue to show that visuals help for driving traffic. Most everyone will agree that a strong image or visual will get the attention of the audience and make them want to know more.

While you may not be covering an event, but writing about a new initiative for your company, are you using the same visuals you are using for other articles?

Your photographs don't have to be better, they have to be different to be successful.
--Dave Black

Always looking for the great image can sometimes paralyze your visual communication.  Believe it or not a photograph is successful if it stops your audience and makes them look.  Don Rutledge, my longtime mentor, told me that when a person is flipping through a publication and they stop on your photograph and then read the caption, it is a successful photograph.

On the flip side a photograph is a failure if the reader flips past your photograph.

It would be a few years before I would get another photo coach in Dave Black that helped me understand this from a slightly different perspective.  Dave let me know it isn't about a better image it is about a different image.

The photos with the tilted horizon were different at one point and because they were different you stopped to look.  Now that it is a fad, it has worn off in its effective use to be "different." The most recent phenomenon on Facebook is the App Instagram.  These filters turn your present photo into looking like a 1970s Polaroid snapshot.

When the App becomes a joke you know it is loosing the ability to be "different."

You need to be sure your visuals are fresh if you want the reader to think it is new material.

Remember, the image doesn’t have to be great—it has to be different. You need to surprise your audience with a visual as much as you plan to surprise them with the text.

Don’t waste hiring a writer and stick an old visual with the story. You would actually get more hits on your website for example if you had a new visual and the same text. This way they would click to see what’s new. Isn’t that better than not clicking because the visual tells them they have seen this before?

Use fresh visuals with your fresh text so together they connect with your audience.

Don't waste your money on visuals any more than you would on the text.  If you take the time to invest, whatever you spend is wasted if you don't connect with the reader.

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