The Art of Visual Storytelling

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  • September 21, 2012
  • INK Team

This post comes from INK alumna Jennifer Sisk.

My PR degree came from a film school. That fact always raises a few eyebrows and I usually get a, “What? Why?!” response. It’s certainly an unusual place to get a PR degree, but it actually makes a lot of sense.

See, most PR people worth their salt can tell a good story. We’re usually writers at heart with a penchant for finding that key nugget, shining it up and getting others to ooh and ahh at it. But the often forgotten element is the visual side – the images, video and even music that can accompany a story to really drive it home.

During my time in film school, I had to take an entry-level film class called Visual Storytelling. I, like most other PR students, couldn’t understand why I was forced to make six short films using music only (no dialog) and how in the world this would play into a PR career. But, those fine folks at Chapman University knew what they were doing because some of the most powerful brand stories I’ve seen come through visual mediums. Take this Nike Girl Effect video, for example. I want to tear up watching those scary hands try to get the little girl. Or the famous Dove Campaign for Real Beauty film that shows the evolution of a woman from ordinary to supermodel. You see that and you can’t help but feel compelled to act.

They don’t always have to be cause-related videos, either. One of our clients, Tech21, does this in a really incredible way by demonstrating the power of its key ingredients. Another example is this Google video showing the speed of Google Chrome by comparing it to other high-speed tests.

Now it isn’t necessary to have a film degree to do this (although I can’t say I’d scoff at the idea anymore), but when planning your next announcement, pitch or campaign, just think about the visuals that could accompany it. What are people (customers, employees, competitors) doing that demonstrates your message? Is there data that can be brought to life in an infographic or quick video? What would broadcast media want to see? Keep this in mind and make your story really pop.

One response to “The Art of Visual Storytelling”

  1. No truer words were ever spoken! The language of PR today is highly visual, which is why we teach our students at Chapman University to use the tools of image and sound as among the most potent tools in their communications arsenal.

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