Carefully Crafted on February 17

Visual Inspiration for PR Pros: Design Q&A with Death to Stock’s Allie Lehman

So far in 2015, we’ve been talking a lot about visual storytelling and its importance for PR. I’ve mentioned before that Death to the Stock Photo is one of my team’s favorite tools, so I asked co-founder Allie Lehman to share some of her tips to help PR pros broaden their design skills.

Here’s Allie’s advice on how to define your visual brand, take/create better photos and images and work smarter with designers:

Not all marketers/PR pros are trained to think like designers/photographers. What are some tools that anyone could use, regardless of their background, to become a better visual storyteller? Tangible tools would include taking classes on Skillshare, CreativeLive or even Lynda. Something even as simple as going onto Pinterest and writing out why you love some of the photography or design. Is it because the typography feels human? Do you love a certain shade of blue? Why are you constantly drawn to black and white? Is it because the work is always paired with amazing copy?

What’s the key to really grabbing someone’s attention with an image? If it doesn’t point you toward a new way of thinking or open your eyes to the world…I believe it has to be nostalgic for someone. If it’s not paving the way then it’s helping someone remember.

What are the most important elements PR pros should consider when defining their visual brand? Mood boards can feel overdone, but I really think that they’re so important. After nailing down those key elements with a new client, it’s important that they can identify what (visually) connects with them. It’s important that PR professionals AND designers know this about their client. When a client can intuitively curate a mood board, you can start to pull out recurring themes or elements. Other elements include consistency (don’t use EVERY photo filter!) and thoughtfulness (don’t post EVERYTHING).

I love that you’re constantly coming up with fresh ideas for your clients. Where do you go for inspiration when you need a creative boost? I try to see what other creative people are making. I rarely am looking at designers who work within the same focus…a lot of hand letterers, painters and animators. I love that it can influence my work, challenge and motivate me. Plus I’m not just copying someone unknowingly.

What are your favorite tips/tricks/apps for capturing great photos on your phone? 

  1. Look for neutral/white reflective light. You just won’t get a good shot if everything is brown/yellow/dark.
  2. Take a lot of photos of the same thing. You’ll most likely capture a great candid vs trying to get the perfect one in one shot.
  3. Observe how the photo looks from different angles or heights (yes, this includes selfies).
  4. Tap to focus and when in doubt…turn off the flash.
  5. I use VSCO to edit all my photos and Afterlight to add white borders.
  6. When I’m using VSCO, I’m tweaking shadows, temperature and contrast. That’s all!

Lastly, what’s one thing PR pros can do to work better/smarter with graphic designers and photographers? Help the designer to understand who will be receiving the message and why it’s important.

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