Why your PR campaign will fail without visual content

Visual communication isn’t new, is it? So why don’t more businesses use it?


cave painting


Look at the image above. What do you see? This image tells a story, doesn’t it? It’s actually a prehistoric cave painting and reinforces my point that visuals have been around forever.

Even the Greek philosopher Aristotle stated: “ There can be no words without images.”

And that was in the 4th century BC. Do you get my point?

We are exposed to visual communication every day of our lives.

Whether it be in newspapers or magazines, on the TV, in books, paintings, advertising boards, posters,
photographs, infographics and on computers. It’s everywhere.

Visuals have pretty much taken over the world.


red apples


Let’s look at the brain stuff behind it? We can process images in about 13 milliseconds, 60,000 times faster than text. Rapid!

Have a read of this.

Here’s an example for you to try. Look at the image and then read the text underneath.

red triangle

A polygon with three edges and three vertices

What did you notice?

You processed the image straight away, right? And the text took much longer?

Now, if I say the word ‘triangle’, your mind immediately conjures up an image. It doesn’t repeat the text you’ve just read. This is because the image is stored in our long-term memory, and basically you can’t remember the text!

Dr Lynell Burmark, PhD explains……

“…unless our words, concepts, ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear. Words are processed by our short-term memory where we can only retain about seven bits of information (plus or minus 2) […]. Images, on the other hand, go directly into long-term memory where they are indelibly etched.”

Great news! Visuals stick with us, so this means your PR narrative must always have visual content, otherwise your potential consumers only have a 10% chance of remembering your business. Only 10%.

So, what does all this have to do with PR?

These findings beautiful illustrate that to achieve effective PR you should not only be telling, but absolutely showing too.

If you have a new product or service you must show it and write about it. But so often there isn’t a single image in sight.

Why not? You can’t afford not to include images.

With the evolution and explosion of social media, visuals are taking a front seat in communicating for businesses.

According to a study by Microsoft Canada, our attention span has decreased from 12 secs in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. So, you are far more likely to make an impact on someone with an image than text.

Hops harvest

What does this mean for PR?

  • It means that anyone trying to engage customers needs to be doing it quicker, clearer, more concisely and crucially in a visual way
  • Headlines must be snappy with instant appeal
  • Get your call to action in quick but have a great image to accompany it
  • Include interactive content which is visually based
  • Visual content skyrockets engagement on social media

A Citroen 2CV in the Moroccan Desert

Don’t just take my word for it.

There are thousands of posts and great influencers out there telling us how visual communication is a must-do in a visual world, and will crucially get more shares, likes, retweets, pins and comments on social media.

So, in essence, why will your PR campaign fail without visual content?

1 People’s attention span is reducing – therefore they don’t hang around long enough to read pages of text.

2 Text is stored in the short-term memory, images in the long-term memory – meaning pictures are remembered, text is not.

3 The brain can process an image a whopping 60,000 times quicker than text – meaning the impact of images is almost immediate.

4 We live in a visual culture. People expect images. They want images.

5 Social Media is image centric and tell us posts with images produce masses more engagement – this will undoubtedly boost your online presence and credibility.

A closing thought. A picture is worth a thousand words.