Lesson in Visual Content with The Cyphers Agency and PRSA-Maryland


The Maryland Chapter of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) co-hosted a workshop last Friday at Towson University with The Cyphers Agency on the new hot topic of “visual content.” The rockstar agency team of Darren Easton, Kellie Elmerajji and Anna Forbes shared their perspectives on how to make your content visually appealing and interesting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. They share case studies and provided feedback to us on our visual content which was insightful.

Here are some of the gems from the workshop:

Text only communications are no longer relevant in our hyper-connected world. As professional marketing and communications leaders, we need to learn as much as possible about visual content tactics and techniques so that we can provide the best consulting to our clients. People want to be shown, not told. It’s been shown that a tweet is 150% more likely to be retweeted if it includes an image! Multi-media is what journalist now want from PR pros, not a copy heavy press release.

With visual content, you still need to be clear on your communications objectives, identify your target audience, do your research to gather data, brainstorm on your approach and refine your key messages. The visual element will be best supported when you can provide your graphic designer with a detailed creative brief.

Here is a summary of what I learned on Friday:

The Power of Infographics When Done Right:


  • WHEN TO CREATE:The best time to consider creating an infographic is when you topic is complex (or boring!), you have a data heavy message and you believe that your audience will respond better to visuals than lots of text. The “perfect storm” for creating this type of visual content is when you have DATA, DESIGN and a STORY.  You want your infographic to create value for your reader. Keep your copy and color palette simple!
  • RESEARCH PHASE:It’s important to do your research and properly source it… Don’t make stuff up! Google can be your friend but make sure you are using recent information, not something posted to the internet in 2009. Your designer should be able to read your creative brief and know your objective, target audience and key message.
  • COPYWRITING TIPS:To draw people in quicker, prioritize your content and then dramatize it. Long boring paragraphs that are overloaded do not work well in this type of tactic. Think in terms of the problem, the story and the solution when you write copy. Always remember to create a call to action (CTA) and stick to your main message. Your copy should follow a natural hierachy of information and make sense to your reader. The Cyphers Agency team recommends that you create an outline to aid in the creation of your wireframe. They use Adobe Illustrator to create vector art.  Remember that people are reading top to bottom, not left to right. And don’t forget to size for mobile and keep your pixel width below 640 pixels.
  • SHAREABILITYis your ultimate aim and important tactical aspect for infographics. Best practices include creating a preview image, making the infographic able to be embedded and don’t forget to tag it as an infographic. You will want to optimize the size of your infographic for each social media channel that you plan to use. Sprout Social is a good resource for the latest sizes for each channel. You’ll also want to submit your final infographic to directories such as Visual.ly, Reddit, Nerd Graph and SlideShare.Keep in mind that Instagram is not a good home for infographics but consider Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, GooglePlus and Tumblr. For Twitter you can use a preview image and then link to the full infographic. If  you have budget, consider doing boosted posts on Facebook to increase your reach. For Pinterest, the team recommends that you use your real estate wisely, use hashtags and create individual content using material in the entire infographic. Don’t forget to add it to your company LinkedIn page and your externally facing website. You can also do a blog post and include in your email marketing efforts. Reach, reach and more reach!

After this workshop with the Cyphers Agency, I now feel more confident that I can create an impactful,far reaching infographic that will tell a story and solve a problem. Thank you Darren, Kelli and Anna for sharing your genius.

Follow me on Twitter @tracyi365 where I share social media best practices, communications and marketing tips and more!


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