Wednesday, January 05, 2011
This is an interesting story for what it doesn't say. Visual communications are emerging as a dominant medium, and PR practitioners need to be skilled in presenting messages graphically rather than in text. PR for most of its history has been locked to words. We hire specialists when we want to communicate visually. I recall being shot down by a senior PR counselor years ago when I called for better visual training for PR practitioners. The fellow said he would never consider hiring a practitioner who could not write. His view still appears to dominate the industry. But, if our target audiences are communicating graphically, then we must be prepared to do the same. And, as computers increase their capability in graphics rendering, we have fewer excuses for failing to exploit the technology. It is time to move beyond PowerPoint and to learn the logic of visual presentation.
I think the unspoken PR skill has always been graphics because even the way text is set and laid out impacts its clarity, readability and appeal. I went back to school, studied and switched from graphics to PR 23 years ago. In my first PR job, the agency VP had me remove all graphics experience from my bio because he said "it doesn't add value." The perception then was that 'artists can't write' and it lingers on today. I buried my background on paper but my graphics skills were called on in that position and every role since. Hopefully graphic skills will finally get their due respect.