International PR Tip No. 2 ??? Picture It

A picture is worth a thousand words – for good or bad, when it comes to communicating internationally. Fitting, attention-grabbing, adequate visuals are crucial to any successful media campaign (be it online of offline). Yet hitting the right visual language for a particular local market, as part of an international campaign, can be tricky; and hitting the wrong one may not only keep your story from being covered, but even fire back on your brand altogether. Press in most European markets would happily use pictures of a product that feature a model, while UK press would rather refer to pure product shots. When using people in a picture, European models will usually work quite well with Asian media as well, but not the other way round. It can get even more damaging when a PR department neglects cultural connotations. Holding out the soles of your foot towards somebody, for example – a setting often used in western photography to depict relaxation – is seen as a severe offense in some Asian cultures.

Hence, before starting to spend on a shooting, it is smart to spend on some research into opportunities and pitfalls in different markets. Straight product shots are a normally a safe bet, although even here it may make sense to visualize different aspects or features for different markets. Environmental performance, for example, might be a key sales argument in western European markets, while consumers in, say, Russia might look more at the ‘show-off-value’ of the item. Proper planning into a series of different shots, targeting different cultures and local audiences, will minimize extra cost and maximize impact.

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