The Power of Visual Storytelling
Every great story has power. The power to inform, inspire, entertain – and most importantly, connect with audiences. While the fundamentals of great journalism remain centered on the written word, compelling stories demand more in our screenshot-snapping, meme-sharing world.
To genuinely resonate with modern readers, we must masterfully incorporate captivating visuals into our narratives. Storytelling is an exceptional skill that has the ability to transport audiences into extraordinary new worlds. In today’s increasingly visual digital landscape, words alone are not enough. To produce impactful journalism, we must harness advanced visual storytelling techniques.
“Now wait a minute,” you may be thinking. “Words have always been a journalist’s paintbrush.” But hear me out. Readers are drawn to eye-catching visual content. Visuals have a profound impact because of the very nature of human cognition. A whopping 90% of information absorbed by the brain is visual. So, if you want your writing to really get into readers’ heads and electrify their imagination, you need eye-catching visuals.
Whether it’s a news article, tweet, or even a press release, visual elements help to boost the visibility and engagement of your content – as we’ve seen in our own research of press releases distributed via PR Newswire.
Visuals allow us to show, rather than merely tell, conveying intricate stories in more memorable ways.
Tools in the Visual Storyteller’s Arsenal
According to Cision’s 2023 State of the Media Report, 43% of journalists used data visualizations in their reporting last year. If you’re looking to join those ranks, here are a few ways to include visual elements in your next article.
Infographics are a writer’s best friend for communicating complex information to modern readers in a fun, easily digestible way. These visual maestros turn dense data into informative art. Infographics allow you to vividly convey facts, stats, trends, and processes so readers don’t slip into a coma of boredom. Their visual pop makes them highly shareable on social media and they turn dry numbers into impactful stories.
Example: Heavy machinery manufacturer SANY Heavy Industry included an infographic to highlight takeaways in its financial results.
It’s often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Photos bring stories to life by conveying emotion, intimacy, and vivid sensory details that transport readers right into a story’s scene. A single striking photo can ignite readers’ imagination and imprint your story into their minds. Just one well-composed, poignant photo can add more mood, color, and humanity to an article.
Curious if you can use an image in your article? Follow these rules.
Example: DiGiorno tapped into a contentious debate — if pickles or pineapple are acceptable on pizza — and complemented the release with a mouth-watering (or not) photo.
Videos fully immerse audiences in your stories by engaging all the senses. It’s like a mini cinematic experience embedded in your article. Videos’ motion, sound, visuals, and pacing fully immerse audiences in unfolding narratives. They establish a setting and mood while eliciting potent visceral responses from viewers. Bring your stories into full living color. Lights, camera, action!
Example: Writing about a new product? A video can be the perfect way for readers to get the full picture and see it in action, like Yamaha did when introducing its new finger drum pads.
📊 Maps & Charts
Maps and charts provide clarity and context for readers at a glance. They instantly illuminate complex relationships, trends, and processes — no confusion or head-scratching required. Readers love visuals that make your stories more scannable. Show, don’t just tell!
Example: Equip Exposition, a trade show for the landscape, outdoor living, and outdoor power equipment industry, included a helpful map to give attendees insight into its UTV test track.
For a creative twist, original illustrations or comics inject personality and clarity. They elucidate concepts, symbolize ideas, and add an artistic flourish. Their playful interplay of images, graphics, and text adds a burst of creativity that makes reading more fun. Comics provide a lively conceptual conduit to connect with readers. Ka-pow!
Example: Wendy’s teamed up with comics-superpower DC to support foster care adoption and included an illustrated graphic with their release to promote the partnership.
Embrace these tools, use visuals to advance your story, set mood, and build toward emotional peaks. For today’s communicators, the mandate is clear: evolve beyond the written word and become visual storytellers. Learn to weave visual elements strategically into narratives to create dimension and craft compelling narratives that come alive in electrifying new dimensions.
And make sure you aren’t overlooking common multimedia mistakes!
By incorporating powerful visuals, you lead readers on an enthralling visual journey – a multidimensional experience engaging all the senses. Visuals cement your message in readers’ minds and transform your stories into memorable masterworks. We can thoroughly engage readers by maximizing the impact of our work through thoughtful visual storytelling. The tools are at our fingertips. Let’s use them to their full potential.
Subscribe to Beyond Bylines to get media trends, journalist interviews, blogger profiles, and more sent right to your inbox.
Sarah is a Training Consultant for PR professionals specializing in media monitoring and social media monitoring software. She's passionate about developing effective strategies for teams in a variety of different markets and developing efficient workflows for comms teams. When she's not circling the globe on her next adventure, you can find her on the kickball field, down on the beach, or exploring with her two pups.