Using images to effectively tell your story

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A picture is worth a thousand words.Especially in today’s digital world, this old adage still holds true. While words are powerful, sometimes it’s the image that truly makes a story. Whether it’s on your website, in an employee newsletter or paired with enticing brochure copy, a powerful image can reinforce written messages or simply serve to convey feelings or emotions that words sometimes cannot. Images can also draw people into a story, draw attention to a message’s call to action and help people to remember that message.
The first step in using images effectively is to first find a good image. Generally speaking, a good image is one that …

  • … is visually appealing. It has a balanced composition and the subject is in focus. It is an appropriate size for how it is being used and is the correct resolution for the medium (usually 300 dots per inch (dpi) for images that will be printed and 72 dpi for online images). Images should also be cropped proportionately.
  • … conveys the right emotions and is appropriate for your story. Avoid using images that convey emotions or scenes that conflict with what is written in the text. Appropriate images serve to reinforce your story or message and help the story resonate with your audience.
  • … adds to the text. While it may be tempting to choose images simply because you think they are cute or funny, be sure that they don’t distract from the story you are telling. If a reader struggles to make the connection of the image and your message, your message is likely to be lost completely.
  • … is unique. Whenever possible, avoid using clip art. Clip art images and illustrations are pretty generic—and because they are free and easily accessible, they are overused. Be original: Purchase the rights to stock images (these can cost anywhere between $1 and $500) or use images taken for your organization by a professional photographer or illustrations created by a professional designer.
  • … supports your brand. Images that reflect colors used in your logo or on your website are sure to complement and reinforce your brand. Doing so creates a visual tie from the message to your brand.

After choosing an image, think about how you are going to use it. We’ve pulled together a few ideas that have helped us and that you may find helpful, too:

For internal audiences

  1. Include images on your intranet, in employee newsletters or bulletins and encourage the use of impactful and appropriate images in presentations. If it’s a how-to new HR practice, illustrate the actions required with snapshots. If it’s an article in your internal newsletter on outstanding employee work, use a photo that best captures that employee’s personality and dedication.
  2. Create internal photo opportunities at staff events like special meetings, holiday parties or family days with matching branded Brushed Cotton Twill Caps or Fleece Vests.
  3. Encourage story telling with images by making it a team effort and rewarding staff for their thoughtfulness through contests. For example, at the end of the year collect meaningful images used in your various publications throughout the year and have employees vote on their favorites. Then give high-quality prints of the most popular image framed in a custom frame like our Aluminum Photo Frame, or give a pair of Sport Binoculars imprinted with the note “Best Eye for Images.”

For external audiences

  1. Include images on your website, in direct mail pieces, advertisements or newsletters. Use images to aid in website navigation or to showcase before and after work you’ve conducted for your constituents.
  2. Sometimes the most impactful images aren’t planned. To make sure you don’t miss a great photo opportunity, arm key staff throughout your building with a Canon Powershot Digital Camera to take photos and a Compact Multi-Card Reader to easily transfer picture files to the computer.
  3. Display meaningful images from your publications or website in your offices, too—loop them on a Digital Photo Frame and display them in reception areas.

Find the right image, use it in a way that resonates with readers and your article and your organization or department will be primed to become successful storytellers in getting your messages across. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

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