with Professor Pocock

3rd in a series of 8 Basic Tools for Effective Communication . . . Topic: a photo library

Sometimes a picture is worth diddly squat

This is Week Three in our series of eight basic tools for effective communications. Summer’s an optimal time to refresh and renew.  Are you taking some time to do that both personally and professionally?  While the personal stuff is up to you, our current postings suggest how you can reinvigorate your communications by taking a new look at several basic PR tools.  Today we’ll address a photo library.

The project was worthy, we’re sure there’s no doubt, but as for the check pose, try leaving it out!

Sometimes I’m convinced organizations work hard to find the worst photo possible for the newsletter.  Their framing is off. The images are blurred. The contrast is virtually indistinguishable.  What gives?

Altogether now, let’s raise our right hands

Would you please raise your right hand?  Now say this out loud:  “I promise to never use a bad photo again!”  I know people don’t mean to use bad photos.  Granted, they get under deadlines, they have few alternatives and they rely on amateur talent.  What’s a school communicator to do?

First of all:  No photo is better than a poor photo.  Consider alternatives such as clip art or graphic treatments of the written word.

Take four steps to improve your photo library

Better yet, make a plan for the next several weeks to build a photo library of good, quality images.  Consider these four steps:

  1. Search for dozens of images to build your own photo library.  Make it an assignment for the photo club at your school.  Get students roving the district to capture those perfect images. Talk to retired professionals who might be willing to volunteer their time taking quality images. Surf the Internet to see what images are available for public use. On sites such as Flickr Creative Commons, most photographers  allow you to use their photos at no charge. Just be sure to read the rights spelled out by each contributor and give the shutterbug a photo credit in your publication. I searched the Flickr Creative Commons site and came up with these images for the term “students“.  The images themselves will help spark your creativity for the article itself and make it more interesting.
  2. Organize the images by categories.  This is a great project for those parent volunteers who like scrapbooking!  The key is to make sure you’ve identified all the categories you’ll need.  That way you’ll have a built-in list of what still needs to be shot as well a built in list of what’s at your fingertips.
  3. Be select.  If that image doesn’t meet your quality standard, pitch it.  Don’t keep it in the file “just in case.”  The only photos in your library must be ones that you would use in a moment’s notice.
  4. Continually update.  We are a visual society.  And the job of building your photo library is never completed.  That’s why Step 2 is so important.  Keep it organized.  Then keep it fresh.

Got the picture?

P.S. Face it, at one point or another, we all have to take a check presentation photo. When you do, warm it up with a change in angle that emphasizes the faces, like the one below.  We found it at Flickr Creative Commons.

Photo by West Midland Police