Images that MUST accompany every startup PR pitch

Before you email a reporter, prepare *at least* one of these pictures to go along with your press release.

By Joseph Flaherty, Director of Content & Community

Startups often agonize over the wording in their press releases for weeks, yet give almost no thought to the accompanying visuals. That’s a big mistake.

Before joining a venture capital firm, I was a writer at Wired, and we often made the decision to pursue a story, or not, based on the quality of the images. While this may sound superficial, in a marketplace of attention you need every advantage you can get.

Even getting the attention of reporters is hard. Journalists at the best publications get dozens, if not a hundred or more, pitches a day. Don’t assume they’ll check out your webpage — wow them with image attachments.

I’d recommend including *at least* one of these image types, ideally, all four:

🦸‍♂️ The Hero Shot

🏙️ The Office Logo

🦁 The Logo in the Wild

🎨 The Illustrated Logo

Let’s break them down…

🦸‍♂ ️The Hero Shot

Hopefully, you have a product that looks cool. Minimally, you’ll have a clean image that explains your product’s value proposition. Pictures *are* worth a thousand words — invest in them!

Note: Don’t send a busy reporter a folder of screencaps. Do the work to assemble a few clear images that help to put the product in context and explain the value proposition visually. Put the screencaps on device mockups and use graphic elements to help explain how your product works.

🏙️ The Office Logo

Unfortunately, many B2B products and marketplace websites/apps can be kind of dull looking and make for poor images. A reasonable alternative to the “hero shot” is a photo of the founders against the backdrop of a semi-artful logo in your startup’s well-lit lobby. Even a photo of the logo in your office can be a decent option.

🦁 The Logo in the Wild

A photo of your logo out in the world is a powerful asset. The context clues help explain to potential readers what your startup does, and it demonstrates you’ve actually built something.

🎨 The Illustrated Logo

If you don’t have the time/budget to make rich visual assets, at least ensure that you prep a high-resolution version of your logo. Have a .png of your logo isolated on a blank background, but also create 1:1, 4:3, and 16:9 versions of it on a color field, at least 1200px wide.

Another easy option is to put your logo over a piece of stock art that provides some context. Get a free image from Unsplash, add a couple of adjustment layers in Photoshop, and you’ve got a decent press image. For example:

Startup logos, even nicely drawn examples, don’t usually make for compelling art on their own. The “Swoosh” is shorthand for a venerable brand. Your logo is a null set that should bolstered with a little bling.

A quick hack is to capture a shot of your logo in an app store or even an iPhone screen. It’s particularly helpful if your logo is presented alongside other hot companies. Don’t underestimate the power of subliminal positioning!

It might seem odd to take a picture of a screen when you’ve got high-res, pixel-perfect assets on hand. However, this approach adds a bit of dynamism, context, and even texture to what can be a very static image.

Your logo presented on a large screen at a conference is a decent option for businesses with ephemeral offerings. Like the logo in the wild, it suggests that *someone* thinks you are important enough to put on stage. Ideally, it’ll pull double duty and also highlight one of the founders.

A small investment in illustration services can pay-off by providing context about your company, and a hint of brand voice.

There are also a couple of out-of-the-box alternatives to consider if you’ve got a creative spirit and a willingness to invest a bit in creative. These are harder to pull off, but when they work, they’re quite powerful:

📣 Mascots

Mascots are usually associated with sports teams and breakfast cereals, but there is a long history of their use in open-source software communities, and many startups have become made animals their avatars. If your product is dull, but you’ve got a playful spirit, it’s an underutilized way to build affinity and recognition.

🎞 ️GIFs

GIFs have become the lingua franca of online communication, but many PR firms have been slow to add them to their playbooks. Don’t miss this opportunity to present a 3–5s commercial for your product!

If your product features some cool interactive element, or if the value proposition that it provides isn’t clear from a still image, make a GIF that demonstrates it. Even if it isn’t used as the header image of the story, it’s an invaluable asset for social channels.

Avoid stock art sterility at all costs!

If you don’t prepare good visuals, you will be at the mercy of an overworked photo editor who will stick a cheap, generic piece of stock art next to your story. This is a terrible endpoint for a process that likely consumed dozens of hours and thousands of dollars of PR fees.

If you want PR, invest in design

Unless you have outrageous traction or have raised eye-popping amounts of venture capital, you will likely have to fight for every bit of earned media. You’ll be shocked how a little bit of visual dynamism can help you stand out in a crowded field.

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