I can’t think of a more exciting industry to be in at the moment.
8 years since I first stepped foot into a PR agency and my parents still can’t put a finger on what exactly I do for a living. They’re smart folks, it’s not their fault. My job and this industry is constantly evolving.
8 years ago, I, like nearly all of my colleagues, drafted messaging frameworks, wrote press releases, pitched stories and created brochures, simple websites or other marketing materials for clients to help tell their story and drive actionable outcomes. These elements are of course still part of the mix, but it’s becoming less of a primary reason that clients are hiring agencies.
In particular, the days of hiring PR agencies to solely serve as “arms and legs” or extra support resources are limited. Clients want your brain power. They want creative ideas. The want innovative ideas that challenge the norm. They want trusted consultation from specialists that live, breathe, study and adopt communications trends. Fast technology advancements are enabling us all to drum up new ways of connecting with target audiences. It’s up to us as an industry to capitalize on effective ways to maximize these connections.
The end impact?
Titles aside, the point is that old PR agency models are changing fast and for good reason. PR agencies now walk into new business pitches against ad agencies, niche social media agencies, marketing shops and everything in between. PR agencies are still often best positioned for integrated communications work as we’ve always been the core behind the message and carrying that message from start to finish. In addition, any good PR agency is chalk full of a mixed bag of specialists these days. People who understand the convergence of owned, earned and paid integrated strategies.
What needs to happen?
You better start pulling the right people into your agency. If you’re hiring junior staff just to fill a perceived “doer” role, you’re doing a disservice to that individual. In today’s world, it’s not enough to just be a “doer”. You better be a doer and a creator. When I look back, I started at an agency where I worked for a senior account executive. From there, I moved on to working for a digital strategy director and my current boss is an executive creative director. Huh? A creative director? Yup, and I love it. I still work at a PR agency but it gives you a sense of how agency models are evolving and diversifying.
Each and every day, I challenge myself and my team to push the learning envelope. To constantly stay ahead of the curve. To not just study PR and marketing trends, but design trends as well. We may not all be graphic designers, but we know the critical importance of building and executing strategies with a keen mindset around user experience and design perception. Together, we work to infuse the same mentality into our colleagues – to always push beyond the status quo and think bigger, better and broader. We don’t just “do”, we create – all the time.
In today’s PR industry, the sky truly is the limit. For any college student looking to crack into PR, I’d encourage you to be prepared for a challenging career that is going to start rewarding proactive thinking and creativity more than ever. Be prepared to do, but know that your ultimate value stems from being able to create. If you think you have what it takes, let’s chat, we may have a seat open for you.
Who doesn’t love a great infographic? A simple, clean way to present complex data and tell an interesting story in a visual manner that is easy to digest? Sign me up.
The volume of infographics being produced has really started to spike the last couple years as companies have latched onto them as an effective communications channel. Of course, variations of infographics have been around for quite some time in the form of simple design and pared down data visualization. As I’m constantly studying the design space and creating infographics day in and day out for clients, I thought I’d share a few tips to make sure you’re taking your infographic from good to great.
1. Start With a Purpose: Seems obvious, right? You’d be surprised at how many companies and organizations feel they need an infographic simply to have an infographic. Bad move.
What’s your end goal? Are you working to drive traffic to a blog/site to beef SEO or to serve as a pitch asset for media and bloggers? Is your best option a standard infographic or do you have the budget and would your audience be more likely to engage with a video infographic? Think through your intended niche audience and don’t try to craft a universal pitch piece that applies to everyone. As with most successful online marketing, it’s not about generating a piece that sells you but rather about creating creative content that your audience feels compelled to share and learn more about.
2. Gather Your Data -> Build Your Storyline: Data and storytelling naturally go hand-in-hand in infographic world. The most critical part of any infographic is taking ample time to do your research and cover your bases to ensure you are presenting accurate, interesting information. From there, you need to strap on your creative thinking cap and come up with a unique storyline and method of presenting the data. Depending on your intended format, visual.ly, coolinfographics.com, infographicsshowcase.com and videoinfographic.com can serve up some solid inspiration.
3. Make Your Design Dyn-o-mite: Bad design will turn readers away in a matter of seconds. On the other hand, great design will have readers sharing like mad and clicking through for more good content. Pay close attention to your careful balance of color coding, graphics/icons, and framing. Stay attuned to natural human tendency to scan left-to-right, top-to-bottom and focus on captivating attention via graphics size variance.
4. Provide a Conclusion: All too often, I come across infographics that lack any storyline and are instead merely a splattering of facts and figures bunched together into the equivalent of an online poster. Fine if you’re just looking for a creative way to present stats, but without a logical storyline, a reader is left without a conclusion, key learning or call to action that helps paint the whole picture. Don’t force readers to piece together their own takeaway.
5. Promote Yourself and Share Like Mad: Anyone that tells you that infographics are quick and easy to create is lying – or selling you on what is bound to be a disappointing final product. Great infographics take time to plan and design no matter what. As such, you should ensure that you’ve added your logo/URL to the bottom to get credit for your hard work. When it comes time for distribution, make sure you’re checking off every option possible such as the following:
- Utilizing as pitch asset for media and bloggers
- Posting on infographics showcase sites
- Sharing on own site, incorporating into blog post, sharing via e-news
- Sharing across your own and partner organization social channels
What tips do you have to share about creating great infographics?