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Make Your Utility’s Public Relations Photo Effort Shine

image credit: Photo 50967234 © Alphaspirit |
Andy Gotlieb's picture
Editor of a specialty publication, former public relations practitioner Freelancer

I hold 34 years of experience in communications, mostly in journalism, with a decade in public relations, too.  The first 17 years were spent in print journalism, where I covered, at various...

  • Member since 2016
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  • Nov 24, 2021

A couple of months back, I wrote about how to get the most from photos taken with your cellphone, but let’s talk a bit more about getting the most out of photos for your public relations efforts.

It’s a must that you send photos that have a high resolution. In my “day job” as a newspaper editor, I often see photographs that are of such low quality that we can’t use them. A photo may seem like a photo, but if you try to enlarge a low-resolution photo, it becomes grainy quite quickly. Aim for 200 KB at the very minimum.

While it might seem like a “no duh” kind of thing, send photos that are in focus and clearly show the people or subject you’re promoting. I regularly get photos where the subject is out of focus or is in the distance. Yes, we can crop and clean up photos to some degree, but we can’t make a bad photo a good one. And you shouldn’t make the media have to work hard on your photos – editors are more likely to simply not run them.

If you’re sending out a press release, include headshots of any person quoted in the release; you should have photos of all your utility’s key executives on file at all times. Common formats such as JPEG and TIFF are preferred. If you’re handing out paper press kits, include hard copies of the photos, too.

It’s a small thing, but label the photo file instead of using the codes your camera or phone will generate. If a photo says something like “EXL123346.jpeg,” instead of “John Smith, XYW Power & Light CEO,” you’re asking for trouble. It’s easy for media outlets to misidentify people, so minimize the possibility.

Let’s talk a bit about photo content as well.

Utilities -- and other companies – like to keep to the tried-and-true, such as golden shovels at groundbreakings, executives holding ceremonial checks, people standing stiffly in a line and “grip and grins.”

Those are all boring.

Maybe the free local weekly will use that kind of stuff, but few others will because, as I mentioned, they’re boring and clichéd.

Be creative. You’re not trying to be Annie Liebovitz, but considering doing away with conventional shots when you can. Utilities are loaded with potentially interesting backdrops. Solar farms, hydroelectric operations, wind turbines and power lines are just a few possibilities.

Remember, your chances of securing coverage improve if you can make yourself stand out. By submitting press materials that include a clearly labeled, high-resolution interesting photo you increase your chances of getting noticed.


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Andy Gotlieb's picture
Thank Andy for the Post!
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