If you procure an interview in a coveted publication, that doesn’t mean your interview will see the light of day or be widely read. Stories are killed, and pieces bomb all the time. One way to increase your odds is by sending the perfect photo.
In my writing for some major publications, I’ve worked with some world-class editors. Beyond making a writer’s piece better, they often struggle to find the perfect photo to accompany the piece. Because they know a great photo can increase click rates, and in some cases make or break a piece, you should provide one.
Great Photos Increase Your Odds Of Publication
Great stories will likely run without a great photo, BUT a story that’s on the fence? Well… maybe not. Greater ideas are constantly jockeying for position, so it’s within your best interest to ensure your best foot is forward. Your best foot is a stunning photo.
As a writer and podcaster, if a great interview doesn’t fit a certain pattern I’m used to, red flags go up. A poor photo is a red flag. Writers and editors will absolutely question why someone professional wouldn’t take every aspect of their image seriously, and every red flag diminishes your chance of getting published.
Even if your interview is guaranteed to run, however, you should still send a great photo because of how it will impact your interview’s read rate.
Great Photos Boost Reads
A great photo increases read rates, increases social media engagement, increases the writer’s chance their article will make it to the front page, and even increases the chance the piece will get published in print.
The writer and the journalist want higher read rates, better web page placement, maybe an “editors pick,” and a shot at the print edition. Sending a great photo can increase the likelihood of all that happening.
Before you call your friend, niece or cousin that has a cool camera, be warned. Not all photographers are created equal, and it’s really easy to choose the wrong photographer.
What Is A “Great” Photo?
When I say “great photo”, I mean something quite specific. I am telling you to hire someone with photos that blow you away. Hire someone with a professional light setup, who will find the perfect location. Hire someone to help with your wardrobe. Seriously, go drop some coin.
My go-to photographer, Justin Meyer is one such photographer that knows exactly how to get this right. The photo to the right is carefully designed, right down to the colors, wardrobe, lighting, and background angles.
Like Meyer, your photographer isn’t just taking a picture. They are sending deep emotional messages to the viewer. This message is precise and planned.
His portraits are extremely intense and truly paint a polished picture and his subjects stand apart because his experience has taught him what people react to. If you’d like a standard to compare something by, go to his site.
“While a good story won’t be delayed or killed because you don’t have a good picture to go along with it, it can affect placement, which can ultimately affect how many people see it.” explained Marco Santana, formerly with the Orlando Sentinel, USA Today, and others. “Basically, you should have good-looking visual assets ready just in case a news outlet isn’t interested in sending a photographer to you.” Santana works with startups to help tell their story.
A photo won’t make a bad piece or bad interview better, but it will give your interview the best shot it has at being widely read. In the same way, dressing well for your job interview helps land someone a job, giving a journalist the best damn photo they’ve ever seen will increase your chances and read-rate. (And if it’s exclusive to them? Bonus!)
The popular phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” is only popular because that’s exactly what we all do. And that’s what readers do too. If a photo is worth a thousand words, a great photo is worth more. Take yourself seriously, and the publication likely will too.