The Power of Images, Photographs in a Web World

Maria Peagler and Mary Ellen Miller at the Southeastern P.R.S.A. conference

“Show don’t tell,” was the primary message that I took away from last week’s Southeastern Public Relations Society of America conference in Chattanooga. The conference, appropriately named “Creating Authentic Relationships in the Age of Me,” featured several speakers who talked about the short attention spans we now have and our states of “constant distraction.” A fascinating presentation by Amanda Mauck and Nellann Mettee of LeBonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis reinforced the message of our ever shortening attention spans. In fact they called their presentation, “Nobody’s Going to Read That: Telling your story in a world short on time and attention span.” The two communications professionals apparently hit home with that title as it was the most crowded of all of the sessions I attended!  They shared how their hospital physicians told them there is “no time to read” anymore.  Here are some of the changes the communicators implemented as a result of their research:

1- Tripled their professional photography budget.

2- Targeted physicians by creating 5 x 8 postcards instead of traditional newsletters. The postcards feature four, quick briefs and multi-color photos.

3- Created short (1:30-2:00) video interviews with physicians and posted them on YouTube.  The two said that people love to see their physician on video, particularly when he or she has helped to save their child’s life.

4- Increased their use of  digital cameras and iPhone cameras and they posted daily albums to Facebook.

Realizing the power of images, Mauck and Mettee, along with their on-staff videographer and a fabulous nursing crew, created an award winning music video to tell the LeBonheur story. If you have any interest in positive employee communications, take less than 5 minutes and watch this exceptionally creative video. They managed to get all of their key messages across and showcase every group of hospital employees all in one rappin’ video! The “stars” are real nurses who tried out for the parts! How have you seen the use of images change over the past few years? Do you have examples of great images that you’ve used with success?


  • Sue Painter says:

    You can certainly say this is unusual publicity for a hospital! It will be interesting to see the ROI over time. Great out of the box thinking.

  • Bill Painter says:

    This gives new meaning to “A picture is worth a 1,000 words”. It takes a picture to get people to read the words. We are all visual and the pictures attract our attention if they are interesting. Great points, Thanks.

  • Thanks for sharing this, Mel. What a very interesting (and entertaining) way to promote a hospital. Images our powerful, especially if they are unusual or unexpected.

  • Jeff Brunson says:

    Garr Reynolds wrote a great book, “Presentation Zen” that your post made me thnk about. He talks about how to use photos in PPT, etc presentations. Very powerful. What I’ve learned in my hobby of photography is how large a story a simple photo can tell.

  • The marketplace is only getting more and more crowded with marketing messages, blog posts, commercials, videos, advertisements, and more … you’ve got to find a way to grab their attention, and yes … many aren’t going to take the time to read “that.” I love this story you shared about their creativity in approaching their communications. It all comes down to understanding your audience and how they best consume media and content and tailoring what you produce to fit their needs.

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