3 Ways to Make Your Graphic Design Stand Out in Public Relations.
Imagine yourself at the start of a new campaign or activation for your client. You’ve planned the perfect pitch, developed a campaign that wows, and drafted pristine copy for social media. The client loves it all – but it’s missing that certain spark that ties it all together. So what’s the secret ingredient? This may not surprise you (given the title above), but effective graphic design can be the X factor that grabs attention for your project and gets eyes where you need them most.
If you have a creative team on staff, you probably already know the value that graphics and good design add. From social media and display ads to printed projects and trade show displays, designers work with account teams to produce graphics that align with — and truly highlight — core messaging and branding.
Here are some design best practices that anyone — not just a graphic designer — should follow to provide that extra something that will capture your audience’s attention, and get the clicks and engagement your client wants.
1. Have a plan and stick to it
Preparation should be the most important part of your process. As you develop a messaging strategy, figure out your copy and visuals as early as possible. Knowing your audience, goals, and measurable outcomes are essential to developing your strategy. This information will direct your creative brief if you’re working with a designer or your next steps if you’re tackling it alone.
Every project will be unique; a one-pager for lawmakers will look very different from a B2B event flyer. Regardless, it’s important to know your brand — and have a unified look and feel — to create visual consistency across assets so you can instill brand trust and build recognition among your audience. Being a good steward of your brand means using the correct logos, colors, fonts, imagery, and other elements intentionally chosen for a brand.
2. Be intentional when using visuals
A key challenge in PR is delivering something that stands out from the thousands of images competing for our audience’s attention. The average person is constantly bombarded with visual information from social media to billboards to bus ads. By some estimates, we see between 6,000 and 10,000 ads on an average day.
So how do we create materials that stand out in this visual smorgasbord? With your strategy in mind, create eye-catching graphics that grab attention. Better yet, use some motion graphics. A 2018 study by Twitter showed that Tweets with GIFs gained 55% more engagement than those without.
Even without motion graphics, illustration, typography, and photos can all be leveraged to call attention to a design. But use restraint — you don’t want to overcomplicate your graphic. Too many images or too much text in a single design can lead to your message getting lost in the clutter. At best, your message will go unread; at worst, you could weaken your design and potentially harm your brand.
3. Design for accessibility
Before your design goes live, be sure your graphics are accessible to everyone, regardless of ability or disability. This means designing for assistive technologies such as screen readers and for individuals who are colorblind or have low vision. If you’re using Adobe products, there are several tools available:
- Adobe Acrobat’s built-in tools can help ensure your PDF documents are accessible to individuals who use screen readers.
- Adobe Illustrator has tools to simulate content as it appears for individuals with color blindness.
- Adobe InDesign has some accessibility features, including tools that allow you to embed tags and add alternative text for images.
If you don’t have Adobe products, you can still access Adobe Color’s Accessibility Tools to ensure your color combinations for text and icons are readable for individuals with low vision (see WCAG guidelines for more details).
Other best practices: Write clear, concise copy and avoid designs that could be confusing or difficult to interpret. Use alternative text on images, graphics, and charts that are not purely decorative. Good alt text allows individuals with assistive technologies to access a description of your visuals; for best practices see Harvard University’s Guide on writing good alt text.
Overall, the design process doesn’t have to be so daunting. By incorporating graphics into your PR strategy, you can elevate your campaign and elicit more views and increased traffic. If you have a plan and stick to it, are international with your visuals, and keep your content accessible, you’ll be setting yourself up for success.
If you’re not a graphic designer but ready to implement these best practices, check out this previous blog post, Design Tips for Non-Designers.