Stories always have been around us, they have the power to inform, persuade and provoke emotional responses. Thanks to the digital era and the fact that people read less and less, visual storytelling has become more popular. As PR practitioners we always want to find the best way to engage with audience and visual storytelling has shown to be a powerful tool to connect with them. In fact, storytelling is important for organisations to develop their media strategies.
Through digital stories people can construct narrative, choose images and the music or sound that they feel best represents their experiences. In short, if you put all these ingredients in a blender, you will make a visual storytelling shake that the drinkers would like to share, or maybe not? When the visual is weak, it generates a negative outlook on the brand. Visuals should be fun to help to reinforce your story, which in the end helps you to capture the attention of your audience better.
Here are a few stats to illustrate why PR practitioners should no longer ignore the inclusion of multimedia in their campaigns.
Here there are my top five guidelines for using visual storytelling in public relations.
Sometimes a good quality image is all you need to tell your story. Images can easily “depict the stunning sights-yet-to-be-witnessed of places or the unpredictable side of people”. Images with authentic content are beneficial because people want real moments from everyday life, moments that allow them to make connections of human experience.
Dove #Speakbeautiful Campaign.
This campaign shows a real situation that millions of women around the world are experiencing. The target audience of this campaign feel personally identified with the message.
You can stimulate the senses through an image. Through images with sensory content you get more attention from your audience since they would feel identified with the experience you portray in that image. These types of images are powerful because you can create a ‘tactile’ experience.
An image should appeal to sight, hearing, taste, touch or smell. This picture make you feel the thirst that the cat is experiencing.
By showing a prototype of something you will make the audience facilitate recognition and make connections with their own experiences. In short, it is about putting across an image of something that is familiar to the audience that in turn would evoke emotions. This content is valuable because if you understand the core emotions and motivations of your audience, you will definitely achieve a reaction.
Harley Davidson – CVO Breakout
This campaign shows the ‘The rebel’, a rebel blond woman who is powerful, independent and risk-taking. This image is effective because the ‘rebel’ audience value the unconventional and strongly reject the status quo.
You need to make relevance between the cultures of your audience to be appealing to them. The idea is to create an image that is relevant to your audiences real life, it could be said that images with relevance move with time. Images with relevant content are potent because you “evoke real emotions by being in the current moment”
Protein World – Beach body ready
The visual content was not relevant and appropriate and for these reason the audience – women – didn’t react in a positive way and as a result this campaign has had terrible feedback.
It is essential that your visual narrative provides details of the story that ‘visual readers’ understand and that also makes them to want to know more. By being logical and consistent you can in some way control the message that you want to be passed to others.
The scarecrow Campaign – Chipotle Restaurant.
This is a very strong story with powerful visual that evoke emotions. It is simple and very well executed story, it is logically structured and resonates strongly with the psychographic characteristics of its target audience.
The amount of information you laid out is really matter. This is an infographic with such an overload of information that it doesn’t have coherence, it isn’t even logically constructed, which in turn would definitely be unfavourable for you story.
Remember that keeping it real and simple is often the way to impress; at the end all that you really are trying to do is to share an experience that resonates with the majority of your audience.
Visual storytelling: inspiring a new visual language. Robert Klanten, Sven Ehmann, and Floyd Schulze. Berlin: Gestalten, 2011.
The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand. Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio. McGraw-Hill, 2014.
The power of storytelling in public relations: Introducing the20 master plots. Michael L. Kent. University of Tennessee, Knoxville, United States.