Five Steps to Strategic Visuals

Stepping up the visual imaging in your editorial and advocacy projects may not be as difficult as you imagine. While some of these may seem like common sense, it is surprising how often they are not commonly practiced. With these simple steps, you will soon be producing vastly more powerful messaging.

  • Begin thinking about the visual components of your project at the inception. As you go through the checklist of media – such as print, online or broadcast – you also should be thinking about the visuals.
  • Come to an early idea about what visuals you’ll need. For instance, will you want both stills and video? Will you need to hire a photographer, or can you use stock photography? Will there be graphic arts and how will the artists find the photography they need?
  • Include your visual colleagues – graphic artists, photographers and videographers – at the very beginning. Your message may be technically or politically complex, so you’ll want your visual team to understand all the subtle nuances of your campaign. Having everyone on cue can help prevent an 11th-hour catastrophe when a high-production visual piece conflicts with the overall message.
  • Make sure the visual team continues to be included in the workflow. As working drafts of talking points, speeches, op-eds and other products become available, be sure to feed them to the artists and photo team. You want those ideas clearly understood as they begin drafting graphic art products, setting up photo shoots or selecting stock photography.
  • Remember you are in the communications business and you should be communicating with your team. In other words, schedule regular meetings so that everyone can share their ongoing work product. It is a good opportunity to make sure everyone is up-to-date with any changes in direction or fine-tuning of the message. Catching problems early can prevent costly misunderstandings that would cause the project to go off track.

Once you have these steps built into your workflow, you’ll be able to have greater creative influence over the visual products. And when the bosses ask you, “Whadda got for art,” you’ll have products that ramp-up your entire campaign and blow away their pixels.

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2 Responses to Five Steps to Strategic Visuals

  1. Pamela Strother says:

    Hi Robert,

    Thanks for bringing this needed information and point of view about the power of authentic photographic images to the advocacy/nonprofit sector. I have been thinking about this topic quit a bit lately as I am finding many organizations are reluctant to spend the funds needed to hire a good photographer and use those powerful images to take them to the next level (in fundraising/sponsorship marketing in particular.) The investment can live on for so many years.

    I was wondering if you might comment sometime about the Sierra Club campaign now in Metro stations. It has really stood out to me for its use of photos of children.

    Pamela

    • Robert Dodge says:

      Pam,
      I understand that many non-profits are looking at the bottom line, especially in this economy. But you are dead-on in recognizing that strong imagery can not only be used in fund raising but also can help establish the organization as a “brand” in the minds of their constituents.

      Keep in mind that a lot of photographers do offer discounts to non-profits that they support. I am among them.

      The Sierra Club campaign sounds interesting. I gotta go check that out!

      Good to hear from you.

      Robert

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