Product photos and visual storytelling are key to getting your products noticed by the media and pumping up your PR profile.
These days, traditional media outlets are melding with their online counterparts to source, produce and publish visual content at a frenetic pace.
Because the media needs SO MUCH content, brands now have an unprecedented ability to create and share their own content for the media to not only browse, but to directly publish.
But this also means that when it comes to branded visual content, the media has a bevy of choices. If you aren’t there at the right time, in the right place, with the right imagery, you aren’t going to make the impact you were hoping for.
This feverish cycle too often has brands feeling like they’re scrambling to keep up.
To make matters worse, many of the existing systems available for distributing visual content to the media aren’t ideally suited to industries that rely on product imagery to SELL.
Time, money and opportunities are being wasted on expired file transfer links, clogged inboxes, and ad hoc spreadsheets.
Prior to Founding Flaunter in 2015, I spent 12 years in the PR industry- first as a publicist, later as the director of my own agency. In that time, I’ve seen the landscape linking the media with branded content change completely.
Today, in order to increase visibility and play in today’s fiercely competitive market, high-quality visual content needs to be effectively developed, easily accessible, tapped into, and pushed out.
Here’s how you can do that for your fashion retail brand…
1. Create Great Visual Content That’s Ripe for The Picking
We already know that with high-quality content comes great exposure.
Sure, not everyone has access to professionals, but with affordable DSLR’s and sophisticated mobile cameras at your fingertips, great content can be created in minutes.
At Flaunter, we find that fashion retail brands who enjoy the most traction with the media have become experts at predicting what their target publications will want and need. Look through the magazines and blogs that you want your product featured in and take note of how the photos are presented. Then you’ll be able to replicate that look yourself when creating your own images.
When presented to the media, would this be their photo of choice?
For example, some magazines clearly like to use on mannequin shots, while certain blogs and online media prefer to use deep etch product photos.
Here’s an example of a publication that uses flat lay, deep etch images:
And one from a magazine that uses ghosted, on mannequin images:
Determine which one you will aspire to before going into the creation process to better match what a source is looking for.
2. Conduct Your Own Photo Shoot
To help you get your footing, we spoke to an expert, Holly Cardew. Holly is the Founder and CEO of <Pixc, whose mission is to help turn your product images into awesome ones.
Here are some tips to consider before you start shooting in order to help you understand your brand identity:
- What are you trying to communicate?
- Are your products luxe? Are they beach hippie?
- Is your brand personality moody, or fun and vibrant?
1. Keep it simple
A white sheet of paper or white wall make perfect backgrounds for your shoot.
Remember, you want to keep the viewer’s focus on the product, not what’s behind it.
2. Use natural light
Natural light is always preferable to artificial, as the colors on screen will come out as close as possible to the real thing.
It also means you don’t have to manage complicated lighting equipment.
3. Aim to provide media with your product photos in various formats
This includes your products in context, on a white background, on a transparent background, and from multiple angles.
Some examples of different image options for the same interiors product.
And here, how a lookbook image is made more useful when complemented by a deep etch product shot:
Note: Most media and retailers LOVE (as in kill for) access to images of products on a white background.
So, when you’ve taken your in-context shots it is highly recommended that you edit them by removing the background to make your content instantly more useful.
At Flaunter, we’ve found that not everybody has the budget, photoshop skills or time to produce their own deep-etched or ghosted images for their target media but using services like PixC makes this process super efficient and cost effective- a worthy investment in our books.
Providing a selection of different angles and photos allows media stakeholders to pick and choose what is most appropriate for their content channels.
For example, an in-context shot might be posted on Instagram and Pinterest, the product on a white background would be ideal for a magazine flat lay display, and the transparent background shot could be used as the perfect layer on a website banner.
Remember that above all, being consistent is key.
Here’s the checklist we recommend our brands review after each photoshoot:
- Do your images all have a similar brightness, color, and clarity?
- Do they compliment your brand personality?
- Are the backgrounds consistent?
- Can you clearly see your products?
- Do you have various angles and photo types to make sure you’re ready for all types of media requests?
3. MAKE IT EASY FOR THE MEDIA TO PUBLISH YOUR VISUAL CONTENT
There are so many opportunities to get your brand noticed today, across multiple channels.
- Print media
- Search Engines
- Social Media
- Paid Media
Making sure your content is easily accessible for promotion on those outlets is incredibly important – because the easiest way to become a media favorite across any of these channels is to give them what they need before they even have to ask.
Media exist in a 24/7 news cycle.
With limited digital storage space and tight deadlines, when they need something, they need it now (or 5 minutes ago), in the correct resolution and with essential credit details.
What are the essential credit details media need to work with?
- Brand name
- Price (often referred to as RRP, or Recommended Retail Price)
- Stockist details – eg your web store URL
- In-store date – when your product will be available to purchase. This will determine what date they publish information about your product
5 Simple Tips for Maximum Exposure for Your Visual Content
1. Do a Stock Take
What visual assets do you already have? Is the quality right – are they crisp, clear and in high resolution? Do they fit with your brand identity? Do you have a selection of different image types as discussed above?
Ideally, you would have:
- Campaign Photos
- Lookbook / or lifestyle photos (products in situ)
- Deep etch photos (on white background)
Once you have the correct imagery needed to talk about your brand, make sure it’s organized in a central location and easy to find.
Organizing your photos into folders and subfolders will be the most logical step to take. If you have a collection/range then make sure your photos are stored by collection/range.
Don’t leave random files floating out there in the wilderness.
Keep everything together in a central location.
There’s nothing worse than knowing you have an image that would be PERFECT for a media request – only to realise you can’t remember where you filed it!
2. Make Sure the Way You Share is Easy to Receive
Ask anyone in the media who works with images and they’ll tell you that their number one pet hate is receiving image files in a format that is hard to access.
Imagine this scenario as if you were a journalist:
You’re looking for images of dresses for a story on party dresses. You email your 100+ brand contacts and suddenly your inbox is flooded and stalled by 50 emails that are 20MB each in size.
1GB of data suddenly creates havoc on your workday.
Then, another 50 of your contacts email you 50MB of images each zipped into a single file using a file-transfer tool.
Now, you have to download the entire file just to see if one of those images might be suitable for the task at hand…
These commonly used tools and practices may have made SENDING those files easy enough for all the brands, but for a poor journalist, it turns an already busy day into a very stressful one.
Tools You Can Use to Better Manage the Process
Cloud storage solutions allow you to respond quickly to image requests from the media and distribute from anywhere, and on any device.
Flaunter – A streamlined platform for brands to upload and organize their hi-res, media-ready content (photos, videos, documents +) and an easy-to-access system for media to follow, find, and download it.
Just upload your imagery to your brand’s profile space to become a part of the network, where your content is added to a central image library. The media of your choice can then freely access all of your assets 24/7 from one convenient location, so even while you’re sleeping.
That means your brand can work twice as hard at getting exposure.
All visual content that is shared via or downloaded from Flaunter is tracked so that you know who is accessing what.
(Full disclosure here…Yep, I am the CEO of Flaunter but I’m also a former publicist who would have KILLED for this kind of platform three years ago, pre-Flaunter)
Google Drive – A service that offers cloud storage of images, videos, and documents.
Share large files with important stakeholders of your brand and do so using basic HTML links as opposed to hefty email attachments. Recipients can also access files via their smartphone or tablet through the use of their Google Drive mobile app — no more attachments limits or email bounce backs.
Test it out with 15 GB of free Google online storage.
Dropbox – A service that keeps your files safe, synced, and easy to share.
Anything you add to Dropbox will automatically show up across devices and even the Dropbox website, giving you the ability to access your assets from anywhere.
Folder synchronization between devices and drag-and-drop desktop access to files make it easy to use.
So, don’t clog media inboxes with large image files, send links that expire, or use file-transfers that require lots of syncing time.
Times have changed.
3. Track What You Share
Who says PR can’t be measured?
That was the old days.
When sharing your visuals, make sure that you’re using a platform that allows you to track interactions with your visual content – views, downloads, follows.
This kind of information is critical to your business but has traditionally been hard to measure.
Just like you want to know how many people opened your last e-marketing campaign – you want to know how many people downloaded an image from a link you sent them.
Or when an editor downloads your black dress for their article on party dresses.
4. Keep Your Content New, Fresh and Up-to-Date
Once you’ve become a media favorite remember to continue creating and sharing new, interesting content as often as possible.
Remember that 24-hour news cycle…bloggers and editors never sleep! 😉
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how amazing your images are or how much blood, sweat, tears and hard-earned money you’ve put into creating them. You must be able to distribute them efficiently to maximize the opportunities for your brand.
Becoming more well-rounded in creating quality visual content, and then seamlessly managing and distributing that content, is where brands can truly stand out from the crowd.
Now that you better understand how you can effectively provide the media with what they need you’ll be able to better drive the way you communicate and sell successfully across all your audiences.