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P.R. People Need to Get the Picture

Learning to think visually is an absolute prerequisite to professional communications.

Learning to think visually is an absolute prerequisite to professional communications.

The New York City Department of Heath recently put out a video public service announcement about the ill effects of drinking too much soda.  Grab yourself super-sized cup of your favorite sugary beverage and check it out.

Whether you like it or are stifling a gag reflex (or both), it’s hard to deny the effectiveness of such visceral images.  So what I want to know is, how come when it comes to the effective use of images in communications, so many PR people still don’t get the picture?

I got into the business, like so many others, because I am a natural “words guy.”  But you can learn to think visually.  Fact is, you better learn, or you are relegating yourself to an increasingly silo’d and fossilized form of communications.  The Pouring on the Pounds video, above, is just the eye-candy that draws viewers to a web site full of relevant heath information and tools.  It’s part of a comprehensive campaign that taps the proven superiorty of powerful images to draw people in.  And there is absolutely no reason why campaigns like these shouldn’t be dominated by savvy PR professionals.

Here’s a test to see whether you are (at least working on being) a visual thinker:

  • Are your slides still riddled with more bullets than the walls of the Alamo?  If so, you need to read Garr Reynold’s Presentation Zen, subscribe to his blog and start adopting his advice, pronto.  When you’ve upped your game a bit, you might check out the guys over at Duarte Design, who helped  a guy named Al Gore with a rather famous presentation called An Inconvenient Truth.  (And thanks, Garr, for turning me on to the Pouring on the Pounds video to begin with.)
  • Do you regularly check out TED, to see the world’s greatest presenters in action?
  • Do you check out the latest stuff, and share yours, on slideshare?
  • Are you tracking the media’s move to data visualization?  (Thanks, Sam Whitmore.)
  • Is istockphoto bookmarked so you can bring your ideas to life with high quality images?
  • Are you educating yourself on video SEO so you can jump to the top of search results?

Seems to me visual thinking is an absolute pre-requisite to all forms of professional communications going forward, whether digital, social, online or offline.  I’d love to hear–wait, I’d love to see!–what others are doing to focus in on visual thinking.

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