In 2015, very new to the PR game in Phoenix, I had signed on a new PR client: A popular and talented photographer - who just so happened to be very handsome and always fashionably dressed. He had decided to branch out into a new venture: Male Makeovers.
It was a clever idea, and when I pitched it to a large local publication, they immediately jumped on the story. The writer assigned to the piece did a wonderful job with the subsequent article. We were “good to go,” in terms of writing, but the editor needed before and after photos - and he needed them quickly.
The client sent me a “before” photo of himself showing an attractive guy, casually dressed in a polo shirt, hair slightly mussed – a bit rough around the edges. Perfect!
I then received the after photo to illustrate the result of a male makeover. In the picture, he had his hair smoothly combed back and was wearing a dress shirt, tie, and glasses.
The Problem: He looked better in the BEFORE photo than in the after photo! I thought that I might be wrong about this, so I sent both photos to the writer. She felt the same way. What to do? We were under a deadline, and he (the client), felt it was a good photo. I had to submit those images.
The Mistake: Due to the nature of the article, I knew that the “after” photo could make or break the piece. If it was a fabulous photo, it would sell the story to the public immediately and possibly even attract national attention.
To this day, I wish I had been adamant about him retaking that photo. The client may have been offended, or he may have not had the time to redo it, but we could have gotten a more powerful image.
While well-written, the story didn’t attract much interest (which is unfortunate because it was good). It ran on the covers of a couple of community editions of the paper, but not in two other zones as promised. Why? The piece just wasn’t that strong given the photos, so it was an editorial decision. The client was upset about this and contacted the paper to complain. The writer and editor let me know about the complaints and emails were flying through cyberspace. I was as tactful as possible and did all I could to defuse the situation. Things blew over.
Why This Worked: The editor and writer were impressed with the way I handled the situation. When it was time to pitch a story idea for another client, a new STEM engineering program for kids, the editor assigned one of his best new writers and did a business profile. The resulting article was shared 375 times on social media and the company’s programs sold out.
Of course, this is of no consolation to the other client, but this is a reminder that being gracious can pay off – and never, ever, be afraid to speak up if you think something can be improved.
The Moral of this Story: Images have never been more important in terms of marketing and PR usage. Today, you simply must have good hi-res visuals that can illustrate a story and can be used digitally and in published pieces. Photography is one thing you do not want to skimp on.