When to use the Picture Superiority Effect for your Public Relations campaign

By Jim James

Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of the SPEAK|pr Podcast

In the SPEAK|pr program that stands for Storify, Personalise, Engage, Amplify, and to Know, engagement is about creating impactful content so that people can understand, share, and amplify it. Content creation is probably the number one problem that people face. They often have their message and know whom they want to talk to, but they can’t figure out how to format that into something that’s appealing, so here’s how to create content that will stand out.

What science says about visuals

Picture Superiority Effect (Photo from Pinterest)

Science says that 90% of all information is transmitted to the brain by visual means. The other senses like the sense of touch, hearing, taste, and smell are actually only receiving 10% of all information. This means that if the content being created is not visually appealing, that’s a massive opportunity wasted. Another important thing to note is that the brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text, and according to the Picture Superiority Effect coined in 1971, people can see the the rhinoceros or the tiger coming after them before they read about it. So, how does one then translate this into making content that’s appealing? 

A misconception about public relations is that it is all about sending press releases, but it’s not. Nowadays, 65% of people are visual learners, and 50% of the body’s neural tissue is in some way connected to one’s vision, so this emphasises the need to have content that might have text but also includes graphics, and this is the domain of the infographic where both pictures and text are incorporated together. Research shows that infographics are 30 times more likely to be read than text articles, and that’s because people see them. Especially now with the attention span of most people being less than say, 6-8 seconds, the content needs to be able to catch their attention immediately, and that’s what infographics can do. If the content is just text, people have to cut and paste large bodies of content, but if it’s a picture, it can be shared right away. Data can also be interpreted more easily through graphs andcharts, and apart from that, an infographic also can have colour and a logo. It’s increasingly hard to raise brand awareness, but with graphics, it’s made possible. There’s also some degree of web SEO improvement when sharing content that is tagged and it will help the links, especially when othersrepost or even embed that on their own website. 

EASTWEST PR’s Shareability matrix

People are attracted to images and even more so to moving images which is why TV and film are so powerful. So, how does one create content then that can be useful? With the use of a SPEAK|pr tool. EASTWEST PR is developing a Shareability matrix that can illustrate how people can develop content thatis shareable. There is a chart, a graph, and anengagement level. On the chart, there are four squares. The top left under Engagement level says ‘Hard.’ On the top right, the engagement level is ‘Easy.’ On the vertical axis is the subject matter, with the top of that saying ‘New’ and the bottom saying ‘Old.’ Basically, content in the top left can be hard to engage with but is new, therefore, it is possible shareable, moreso within a vertical or B2B specialist group. Content on the top right is easy to engage with and new, making it highly shareable. Content on the bottom left is hard to engage with and is old so it will possibly not be shared, while content in the bottom right is easy to engage with but is old, therefore, it is possibly shareable. The aim is to create content that is easy for people to understand, but also new in some way. 

Canva infographics (Photo from Houndstooth Media Group)

When thinking of ways in which content can more easily explained, this could be done with the help with a picture or infographic made using Canva or Visme which offer many templates to choose from. Canva comes prepared with templates that are the perfect size for Instagram story posts, Instagram posts, Facebook posts, Facebook cover photos, LinkedIn posts, etc. They even have templates for business presentations, websites, logos, business cards, and invoices, all of which are very easy to use and can even come with stock photographs. Once the infographic or poster has been created, it can then be linked and shared directly to social media accounts. There is also an option to create a team account where other members can collaborate and work together to create content. There are also courses available on Social Media Master, and it has 92,000 students taking courses like Presentations to Impress, Personal Branding, and so on.
Based on the Picture Superiority Effect and thanks to social media, the attention span of people is getting shorter and there is never a lack of content, so standing out is more and more difficult and you could end up in the bottom left hand quadrant of the shareability matrix. So, as you work on content creation, don’t forget that making it visual is going to appeal to more people and make it easier for them to share it rather than if they have to read, understand, and then cut and paste the best bits. Use a platform like Canva or Visme to help you communicate your message to a level greater than what sentences or paragraphs could achieve. It’s also possible to outsource the infographic-making to graphic designers on websites like Fiverr or Upwork. Nonetheless, even if you’re not a designer, it’s important to think about using visual elements and graphics in your marketing, even if it’s just taking numbers from an Excel spreadsheet and inputting them into a chart, because that could become a graphic with a headline. Now, you can actually upload photographs from your phone to Canva or Visme and embed them within your storyboard. With that, think about making graphics that are simple, compelling, and colourful. Hopefully, this helps you on your journey to communicating the value in your business and creating great stories using some graphics.

This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast SPEAK|pr, you can listen here.

Cover Photo from Alex Rister

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