Why the PR Profession Must Embrace Visual Storytelling

My personal soapbox is fast becoming visual storytelling.

This can be a tough one for PR professionals where words have always ruled. Yet, visuals can serve as shortcuts to the emotional touch points of a story. Which explains why 500 million photos are shared on social platforms each day, a number expected to double next year.

But there’s a more fundamental dynamic at work. How do you rise above the noise and get a “listen?”

I came across a chart – yes, it happens to be in visual form – which as much as anything quantifies the noise and the why PR needs to bring visual storytelling into business communications.

global digital info created & shared

Thanks to social media, blogging tools … and the list goes on, all of us recognize that the amount of digital content keeps going up.

Makes perfect sense.

But I didn’t understand the velocity behind this phenomenon until absorbing this Kleiner Perkins chart.

First things first, I needed to get my arms around this measurement of digital storage called a zettabyte.

When I purchased the Agency’s first personal computer back in 1987, it came armed with 20 megabytes of hard disk storage. Today’s desktop computers often come with 500 gigabytes of storage, a gigabyte being 1000 times more than a megabyte.

A terabyte is 1000 times larger than a gigabyte leading us to the infamous exabyte, 1,000,000,000 times larger than gigabyte. Quick aside – the people responsible for the nomenclature should have inserted some levity into the proceedings with a measurement called a “bubbabyte” (think of the possibilities for the NASCAR crowd).

But I digress.

Gargantuan doesn’t begin to describe a zettabyte. Here’s a comparison that framed  the context for me. One gigabyte can store roughly 16 hours of music. If your iPod came with a zettabyte of storage, you would be set with 2 billion years (not a typo) of music.

Returning to the KPCB chart, you can see that the amount of newly created digital information will double from 2013 to 2015 to eight zettabytes.

If the customer feels crushed with information today, think about the world in 2015 with twice the amount of digital information raining down.

That’s why visual storytelling demands a core spoke in any communications program.

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