Visual Dos and Don’ts: A Guide to Optimizing Images for PR Success

A guide to optimizing images for PR successWe, in general, are drawn to what is visually appealing. Take a look at your Facebook or Twitter feed, and I will bet that nine times out of 10 as you’re scrolling down, skimming the content and taking in the highlights, your attention will be captured by a captivating image.

With this in mind, it’s more important than ever for us as PR pros to develop eye-catching and memorable visuals for the clients we represent on social media. Here are some dos and don’ts to consider for your integrated marketing communications plan.

Visual Dos

  • Do add an image to every blog post. This goes back to what we we’ve already said; images and visuals capture our attention. Leverage this to draw viewers in and engage.
  • Do include multiple images in blog posts when possible. This will help break up the content, especially if your content tends to be a bit lengthy. But don’t go overboard. Be sure to complement your content with the visual assets – not destroy it.
  • Do use photographs when available; avoid a static one-color background. This might be self-explanatory – but consider the two visuals below. Which one is more likely to grab your attention?

Visual Dos and Don'ts2

Visual Dos and Don'ts

  • Do sign up for free stock photo services (and attribute when and where necessary). There is a plethora of services out there to take advantage of including Unsplash, Death to the Stock Photo, Gratisography and more.
  • Bonus: Do consider placing the company or brand’s logo in the visual, when applicable. You can also take this a step further and place it in the same location e.g., the bottom left-hand corner of the visual, so viewers can easily distinguish your content as they scroll through their feeds.


  • Don’t use images that include 20 percent more text on Facebook. Use the platform’s useful text overlay tool as guidance.
  • Don’t use copyrighted photos – ever. Just like you were taught to never steal as a young child or to plagiarize in your college courses, don’t use or rather “steal” a photo when you don’t own the rights.
  • Don’t make your design too busy. As the old adage goes: KISS, Keep it simple, stupid. You want to avoid overwhelming your viewers with clutter and too much noise.
  • Don’t forget to adapt image sizes based on social media channel dimensions. Cut-off text in the preview image is not a good look for anyone, let alone your client. Reference this infographic from Constant Contact for sizes of various visual components on the top platforms.

Do you have helpful tips or tools that you to create attention-grabbing images to leverage your content? I’d love to hear from you! Please share with me on Twitter using @shandihuber, and #NPPRSA.


Shandi HuberShandi Huber is a senior account executive at Wordsworth Communications, a public relations agency in Cincinnati, Ohio. An enthusiast for all social media platforms, you can often find her pinning her dream closet on Pinterest or posting photos of her new puppy on Instagram. Connect with Shandi on LinkedIn and Twitter (@shandihuber).  

Five Visual Tools for Artistically Challenged PR Pros

We’re all well aware that visuals are an absolute must for social media right now – and they should be. Visuals help PR pros tell stories and engage with audiences in an entirely new way.

But, if you’re like some PR pros, graphic design is not your forte. Trust me, my art skills stop at stick figures so I’m right there with you.

That’s why I’ve added some of the latest online design platforms to my PR toolkit. Here are five free design tools you should consider adopting, too.

Image via TechCrunch.

Image via TechCrunch.

1. Canva is an online design platform that lets you create visuals to fit specific social media specs (Facebook cover photo, Pinterest image, etc.) or customized sizes. It has free and inexpensive visual assets, including text and graphics, and you can upload your own images.

  • Tip: If your brand has a blog, consider creating a visual with the headline and company logo set on top of a photo. This makes social sharing easier and entices more click-throughs.

2. Piktochart lets you create infographics using templates and visual resources, similar to Canva. It has a free and paid option. You can also embed videos within the infographic – perfect for brands on YouTube.

  • Tip: Turn company jargon into a visual story with an infographic. For example, if you’re launching a new technology, use an infographic to show what it does, how it’s unique and why people should care.

3. Unsplash provides free stock photography to help you enhance your brand’s digital presence. The service sends you 10 free stock photos every 10 days (a great deal!), and you can use the photos to create visuals for social media, blogs, websites and more.

  • Tip: Using Canva, add a question related to your brand to the stock photo and share on social media; this increases the opportunity for engagement. For example, if you’re a travel brand, add a question about “favorite travel destinations” to a city skyline photo.

4. Pixlr is an online photo editor, available for desktop and mobile, that lets you fine-tune your photos. If you’d prefer to use your own photography instead of stock photos, use Pixlr to crop, rotate, add filters, balance colors and adjust lighting.

  • Tip: Use Pixlr’s photo collage tool when announcing a new product. Let’s say you’re introducing a statement necklace. Use the collage feature to illustrate three different colors or tops that match with the necklace.

5. Hyperlapse from Instagram was just released in August, but it’s already taking the social media world by storm. The mobile app helps you take time lapse videos that sync with your brand’s Instagram account, and it offers built-in stabilization to help you steady shots on the go.

  • Tip: Take time lapse videos at a company event to capture the big moment(s) for social sharing. For example, if your company sponsors a 5K, consider using Hyperlapse to capture the start and finish lines.

Now, these free tools are great, but we all know nothing beats having a talented graphic designer on staff. Unfortunately that’s not always an option. But PR pros are a resourceful breed, and with free graphic tools we can surpass stick figures and become visually adept at telling an engaging, enticing brand story.

How do you incorporate visuals into your PR strategies?


Vermillion small 1Stephanie Vermillion is a senior account executive at Wordsworth Communications, a public relations agency in Cincinnati. She is on the PRSA Cincinnati Leadership Team and is part of the PRSA Cincinnati New Pros Committee. Connect with Stephanie on LinkedIn and Twitter (@SMVermillion).