Telling Your CU Story Through Images

by Elizabeth McMillan, APR

Tips for creating interesting graphics online

Credit Union Management’s Web-only “PR Insight” column runs the first Thursday of every month.

Sound public relations practitioners always know their credit union’s target audience.

They have a good idea of where current and prospective members, as well as employees, get their news. Most importantly, they know how members and employees gather information and learn.

According to Pew Research Center’s Trends in News Consumption, during 1999-2012, digital news and television surpassed newspapers and radio among the young and not-so-young for news consumption. But while they are spending more time online reading or watching TV, they are doing it distracted. Often, a smartphone, tablet and TV are all on at the same time.

These trends put pressure on PR pros to convey their credit union’s value proposition quickly and succinctly. There is no better way to do that under time constraint than with images.

According to The Power of Infographics: Using Pictures to Communicate and Connect with Your Audience, 50 percent of the human brain is dedicated to visual functions, and images are processed faster than text. It is further estimated that 65 percent of the population are visual learners.

A Single Image

For some, the word image may mean a single photograph, which reminds me of the power of a National Geographic or Humane Society image. They can be breathtaking and cause you to stop and look, but they may be interpreted differently by different people.

With websites like www.Wordle.net (free), your credit union can turn a single image into a colorful mashup of your CU’s keywords, key attributes, or key products and services.

In the below example, I cut and pasted content from 2012’s five most-read “PR Insight” articles into http://www.wordle.net/create. The resulting image shows which words are most used by font size.

 

An image like the one above tells viewers and readers what words to associate with your credit union instead of asking them to figure it out.

Charts

Charts are another way to convey a good deal of information in a small amount of space and time. Consider comparing your credit union’s rates to competitors or the progress of a member service challenge by employees with http://infogr.am/ (free with sign up). After a free login, the website lets you select the type of graph you want and prompts you to fill in the template with your information.

 

Infographics

If you have text, images AND graphics to share, infographics are the best route for getting all the components of a PR message across to your target audience. An effective infographic takes into consideration:

  1. appeal – will the information shared engage its audience?
  2. comprehension – is the information easy to understand?
  3. retention – will the viewer remember the information?

An example of an infographic I think you will enjoy is The Rise of Credit Unions athttp://visual.ly/rise-credit-unions. The website used to make the image is http://visual.ly/ (free for basic, paid for more detailed).

I would encourage you to strongly weigh whether it is worth your time to navigate making an infographic–would you be better served pitching a story to local media?–or engaging an online designer. I have found the most compelling infographics can take the most preparation.

The adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” remains true today. Given the short attention span of your current and prospective members, and the wealth of product, service and financial information your credit union can and should share, images, charts and infographics are a PR practitioner’s best friend.

Elizabeth McMillan, APR, is a group director for William Mills Agency, the nation’s largest independent financial services and technology public relations firm. She is also an active member of PRSA, PRSA|GA Board of Directors and Universal Accreditation Board.