The Craft of Visual Storytelling

August 2016

    As a PR professional, I often find myself in a lot of meetings where the term ‘storytelling’ is thrown around by the advertising agency, digital agency and, of course, by us, the PR agency.

    So, what’s all the fuss about, and is this just the next short-lived marketing fad or something more sustainable?

    My gut tells me branded content and visual storytelling is here to stay, here are a few reasons why I believe this to be true:

    Images win over text

    tanya blog visual
    Image : Urs Fischer exhibition at Garage Gallery of Modern Art Moscow.

    Text can be complex, pictures, by contrast, are simple.

    Every day, we face a flood of messages and information for which we have little time to process. Text takes time to read and comprehend, but pictures function quickly, breaking through to consumers to grab their attention.

    The world is global, and so our communication needs to work globally. Text must be translated, while images effortlessly tell a story across cultures and languages.


    Storytelling toolbox delivers

    We now have a number of tools to help us craft visual stories: The infographic is already considered ‘so yesterday’; multimedia and video continue to gain popularity; and gifs are on the rise along with cinematography, not to mention the growing use of virtual and augmented reality.

    All of these are aimed at grabbing our attention, decorating the story, entertaining, inspiring and motivating, and forcing us to visualise.

    The new grammar of storytelling includes colour, focus, style, contrast, frames, and perspective.

    We all see the value

    The rise of Netflix has recently taken branded content to a new level; communicators have realised that to advertise effectively, to peak attention and interest, they have to break out of old habits and set new, compelling standards for branded content and video advertising.

    A great example is Farmland, a documentary sponsored by major U.S. agricultural companies that offers an absorbing first-hand look into the lives of six farmers.

    While sponsoring content may not seem particularly game changing, it’s Netflix’s market dominance combined with a willingness to test new advertising methods that’s changing the game for the better.

    None of this is particularly surprising to us, right? Right, but finding, sourcing, licensing, publishing and sharing images that tell a story isn’t as easy as it sounds. Fortunately, now is the time to ride the tide of a visual tsunami to get our clients to see the value of visual storytelling .

    Tanya Buckley
    Head of Content