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5 Top tips for a Successful Photocall

5 Top tips for a Successful Photocall

As all public relations practitioners know, the photocall is a very important tool in our PR toolbox. Here at MCsquared, we’ve spoken with Picture Editor of the Sunday Business Post, Bryan Walshe and News Editor of the Sunday Business Post, Catherine O’Mahony and captured their and our top tips for a successful photocall:

1.       Photographer & Key Messages

Firstly, it is extremely important to choose your photographer wisely. You should find one who is creative, professional and most of all, reliable. It is essential to work with a photographer who has a good record of obtaining coverage in the media outlets that you are targeting.

It is essential to set out a strong theme or key messages for your photocall – announcing an event, highlighting growth within a company or launching a new campaign or range for the brand. Think about how these key messages can be brought to life. At MCsquared, we keep a close eye on the various media outlets and have an in depth understanding of what types of images land and work best to portray a specific message. We also recommend having a few ideas to cover all publications on the day as tabloids and broadsheets require very different sets of images.

According to Catherine O’Mahony, News Editor of the Sunday Business Post, It’s important to capture photos that have ‘media appeal’:

From a news editor point of view, I have only three rules; no black and white pictures, no models in bikinis (or short skirts, or anything of that kind, unless you are writing a story about a model in a bikini) and no ministers popping up in a corporate shot.”

2.       Location

The most successful photocalls are taken outdoors. You should choose a location that is colourful and attractive to look at. Parks with trees and flowers in the background are quite popular, as well as the beach and well known monuments in a town or city. Wherever the location is, ensure that it is not surrounded by unwanted advertising, that there’s access to good lighting so the photographer can create some nice bright images, and be aware that for some parks you may need to apply for a permit to use it as a photocall location.

3.       Participants and Props

Plan well ahead of the photocall. Decide on how many people need to be in the photocall and what their role is; generally less is more, with two or three participants being the norm and five being an absolute maximum, unless it’s intended to be a crowd shot. Celebrities and models are popular in photocalls but can be over-used.

Brief the participants accordingly, and be mindful that if they’re under 18, you will need to get parental consent for their involvement.

Be creative – props are your friend for photocalls!  Depending on the concept you may decide to use anything from kitchen utensils to bath tubs, cute animals to sand sculptures.

4.       Captions and titles

It is essential to have a great caption and title to accompany your image. If there isn’t any branding in the image, include a brand name check in the caption or title. It should be short and concise to grab attention and have more of an effect on the reader.  For Bryan Walsh “Caption is King”, as he says that that many PR agencies forget to send captions into the picture desks to accompany their images.

5.       Client Expectations and types of images

As with all client activity, managing expectations is critical and photocalls are no different. The client may have a different set of expectations compared to those that can be achieved and Bryan Walshe advises to have a specific and agreed idea beforehand of how the brand or company is to be portrayed.  Clients need to be advised, he says, that models in a park with cut out signage doesn’t work anymore. Every publication has specific needs and it is important to remember what type of publication you are targeting. In terms of exposure, it is important to realise that there is a huge difference between the images that will work for the daily papers compared to the Sunday papers.

Relationship with Picture Editors 

Bryan Walshe advocates engagement with picture editors on a continuous basis. At MCsquared we know it’s important to communicate with picture editors and establish a good relationship to secure client coverage. Over the last year or so, many PRs have stopped sending images to picture editors but the picture editor has the power to make something happen within the publication. They don’t always have access to images that are sent to news editors only.

Bryan advises to call picture editors prior to planning a photocall to discuss what type of photo they require, what sort of props they would like to see, how many people should be in the photo and who the target audience are.

If the final picture is to communicate a thousand words, then it’s certainly worth the planning and prep work.


Murrays Website

Lisa Collins



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