Once upon a time – not so many years ago – newspapers and magazines consisted of page after page of words. There were, very occasionally, a couple of photographs.
But primarily, the job of a journalist was to come up with stories that, every now and then, might be illustrated if the editor so chose to do so.
Today, in a more digital age, photographs are not just a good extra, but often imperative. Not only because more readers are accessing news stories using technology – which is driven by still and moving images – but because our lives are so fast-paced, and pictures can often tell us something instantly.
Which is why, as a journalist, press releases that include embedded pictures are such a godsend. Send me a few paragraphs outlining a story, and embed links to a few low-res pictures so I can see instantly what something looks like, and within a couple of minutes I will be able make a decision about whether it will work: not just in print but online.
In the travel world, driven by dream holidays, this is particularly important. Even if you are convinced that the new hotel you are representing is the most beautiful place in the world, your idea of beauty might not be mine (or my editor’s). Its interiors might be ideal to feature in The World of Interiors in the Middle East – but totally wrong for Times LUXX. Embed some low-res pics and I’ll be able to tell that in a minute.
Even better, if you include a Dropbox link at the end of the release, with a selection of professional photographs that I could publish – ideally exclusively – I might also be able to run it pretty quickly. I don’t need 500 high-res photos of a hotel, from a close-up of a piece of soap and a monogrammed towel to a drone overview of the property. A folder with about ten photographs that show me an overview of the key parts of the property would be great; beside another folder with shots of food; another for exteriors; another for activities.
If your photographs are gobsmackingly lovely – and I have them exclusively, or can publish them first in the UK – I might even pull another feature to get your story in. Because, when you are an editor of a colour supplement that peddles dreams, having dreamy pictures at your disposal means three-quarters of your battle is over. Then there’s just the small question of words to sort out…