In today’s increasingly saturated digital PR world, the power of visual communication has never been more important. Graphic design is a vital tool for digital PR’s to cut through the noise and earn media coverage for their campaigns.
Whether it’s eye-catching infographics, maps that showcase geographic trends, or ranking graphics that show a clear “winner” and “loser,” compelling and engaging data visualizations can make or break a digital PR campaign’s success.
In this blog post we’ll dive into the best infographics for different digital PR campaign formats.
In a vast sea of online content, competing for and capturing media attention is a challenge. In this blog we will discuss how to create a digital PR campaign design and explain why the successful use of graphics in your digital PR campaign can accomplish the following:
According to Muckrack, journalists are bombarded with emails from PR professionals. Research shows some journalists receive between 20-30 cold pitches a day.
This is where graphic design plays a pivotal role in digital PR campaigns: In a split second, a well-designed graphic can catch a journalist’s eye, give them a high level understanding of the data, and entice them to delve deeper into the content.
When it comes to communication, visuals have an inherent advantage over text. Our brains are wired to process images more quickly and efficiently than words, making graphic design an invaluable asset in conveying messages effectively.
See the image below, which one tells the story faster?
The best designs for digital PR take complex information and simplify it. Digital PR campaign designs can communicate data in a visually appealing manner through infographics, charts, and diagrams making the data easier to understand for journalists who are pressed for time.
Another reason to create a digital PR campaign design is its inherent easy to share. Well-designed graphics can easily be shared by journalists if they so desire either directly in their web story or across their social media platforms.
Social media is a great place to share information, but there are limitations when it comes to text making images even more valuable. Depending on what platform you use, there are character limits. Tweets can only contain up to 280 characters, and while Facebook and Instagram have longer character limits (63,206 and 2,200 characters respectively) long blocks of text are not recommended for optimal engagement.
This is when you would want to use some great digital PR designs. Take a look at this graphic from a recent twitter post we made about a new digital PR campaign. On the left you’ll see we used text to explain the graphic and provide context.
The picture provides the research and information. The right is solely text. While it’s visually less appealing, the character limit also wouldn’t allow for all the information to be posted anyways!
Another thing to keep in mind, when a brand’s graphics are shared, it extends the reach of the campaign organically, exposing the brand to new audiences and potentially more media coverage.
Creating map infographics in a digital PR campaign design can be valuable, especially when there’s a local or state-by-state component involved. Map infographics offer a visual representation of geographic data and allow outreach managers to target journalists and media outlets with data specific to their audience.
By using Google Ad’s Keyword Planner, digital PR’s can identify trends in what people are searching for across the country. In this example we wanted to see what existential questions people were Googling in each state for a content piece about how often people consult the search engine throughout the day.
Whether it’s a content piece about the meaning of life, candy bars or dreams, this tool can help identify what people are searching for the most in specific regions. And while digital PR campaigns often have a body of text that explains research findings, a visual representation of data is helpful.
A map is one of the best designs for digital PR as it presents the information in a way that is much easier for a journalist to digest and understand. This map infographic below showcases the data we collected for a content piece on the most common dreams in each state. We would call this a category piece, as there are multiple dreams that would fall into each category.
You can see the map is colored in and the corresponding colors match a dream category in the legend below the map. This allows journalists to quickly look at their state to identify the top dream where they live and also to see different trends in the area.
Other maps don’t need a legend; the infographic below falls under our definition of a “brand name” map piece. The states are filled in with a picture of the brand name candy bar of preference, but if that wasn’t clear enough there is an alphabetical list below showing the top selection for each state.
As a rule of thumb, it is a good idea to have a state by state list that accompanies the map infographic so there is no question about the data. Some states like Vermont, Delaware and Rhode Island are very small and can be difficult to see on a map. The “list” makes sure there is no mistaking the search results.
Another great graphic for your digital PR campaign is a ranking graphic. These types of graphics visually display the “work” you did to draw a conclusion and rank results in an easy to understand list. Rankings graphics are generally displayed as tables with columns showing different factors used in the methodology, or as simple lists (i.e. best to worst, top 50).
One effective means of illustrating a digital PR campaign that ranks data is to create a graphic table. In the table the columns show the different elements that were used to conduct the ranking. The rows show the different points of comparison in an ascending or descending fashion. The advantage of the grid is you’re able to see the individual data for each point of comparison for every item.
In this example we identified the top mosquito hot spots in the U.S. by using multiple ranking factors (average summer temperature, average summertime rainfall, number of mosquito species, West Nile cases in 2022, and Google search data about mosquito prevention per 100,000).
The beauty of the graphic is that it shows the data for journalists to see how we came to our conclusion. In their coverage they can cite as much or a little of it as they would like to explain the findings to their audience.
Another way to present ranking pieces is in a numerical list. Some content pieces just don’t need the in-depth breakdown and work better as a simple list. Editorially, journalists love top 10 lists or “best and worst” lists. From an outreach perspective, lists can allow for a very targeted approach if the list has a local hook.
In this example we ranked the most and least bike-friendly cities in the US. We displayed the top ten for each in an easy to understand graphic.
On the bottom we showed which ranking factors we used to come to our conclusion (average air quality, bicyclist fatality rates, bike to work rates, average rainfall and average possible sunshine).
In this example journalists can easily see the best and worst, and understand how we drew our conclusion without getting too weighed down with data.
When it comes to using graphics to create a digital PR campaign design, understanding the narrative you want to illustrate is crucial.
The type of graphic elements you include will depend on the story you want to tell and the data you are working with.
Here are a few of our favorite visual elements to utilize to tell data stories:
And remember, your charts and graphs don’t have to look like they came out of your 8th grade math class. Get creative and use the tone of your piece to guide how you want your graphics displayed!
Pie charts are valuable when you want to showcase data that adds up to 100%. They provide a visual representation of how individual components contribute to the whole. Pie charts work well for displaying data from multiple-choice survey questions.
But when it comes to visualizing that multiple-choice data, pie charts don’t have to literally look like a pie chart (although this one does).
Pie charts can be broken down and more creatively illustrated like this information below about how Americans care for their lawn.
Regardless of the way you design the pie chart, it’s essential to ensure that all the statistics and percentages in the pie chart add up to exactly 100% to maintain accuracy and clarity.
Bar charts are excellent for illustrating rankings and comparing options. They are particularly useful when conducting surveys with “select all that apply” questions, where you can show how certain options fare compared to others.
Bar graphs allow you to showcase the most and least popular options or data points, typically ranking them from largest to smallest.
In this example we showed the top reasons Americans believe malls have closed:
We ranked them from the most widely accepted opinion (rise of online shopping: 78%) to the least popular viewpoint (Covid-19 pandemic: 25%). As you can see, this arrangement creates a visual hierarchy where the bar decreases in length as you move down the line, indicating a decreasing amount or preference.
**Tip: When producing multiple bar graph infographics you can create and use a bar graph template for brand consistency and ease of use.
Standalone data points are ideal for presenting short and impactful facts. These are simple statements that highlight a single data point or a newsworthy statistic.
Standalone data points are often derived from yes or no survey questions, where the focus is on emphasizing a specific aspect of the data.
**Caption for image: In this example we were able to come up with the statement “42% have a diagnosed mental health condition.”
Standalone data points can also pull out the most interesting stat that could be used to convey a possible angle to the piece.
Sometimes (or probably oftentimes) one type of graphic just won’t cut it. This is where a visual “buffet” can come in handy.
We refer to buffet graphics when we use multiple graphic types in a single piece.
In this example we used a map and a ranking to show the top states people are moving to and moving from. We paired this with some stand alone data points to better illustrate the geographical data.
Using multiple different types of graphics to tell the story is generally key. We have found that maps or ranking pieces on their own don’t fare as well without the pie charts, bar graphs or stand alone data pieces to provide context and answer the “why” questions. On the flip side, we’ve also found some survey pieces don’t fare well without a local “hook” or angle for journalists to connect to their audience.
Here at Digital Third Coast we embrace changes in our workflow and welcome the challenge of adapting to new technology. With the mainstream acceptance of AI image generation, we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about how this can help create graphic designs for digital PR campaigns.
We don’t believe AI image generation can completely replace the work of a graphic designer, but rather can aid the process. Digital PR’s can use AI to create unique images in the exact style they want, without worrying about copyright infringement. This can be a valuable tool for crafting header images for content campaigns and background images for the graph elements.
The use of AI can help streamline the process of graphic creation by giving a designer the exact image you want to use in your graphics. This can save everyone time and ultimately money on the project.
When it comes to creating impactful graphics for digital PR campaigns, working with a skilled graphic designer can make all the difference. Graphic designers have the expertise to bring your ideas to life and ensure your visuals have a polished and professional look.
It’s important to know how to work with a graphic designer, and providing a clear creative brief is essential. A creative brief serves as a roadmap for the graphic designer, outlining the direction, objectives, and desired outcomes of the project. It should include the client’s brand guidelines (such as fonts, color schemes, and visual style), how many graphics are needed, inspiration, and detailed notes about how the data should be displayed.
*Note: Clearly articulating your vision and expectations in the creative brief will enable the graphic designer to better understand your requirements and deliver designs that meet your goals.
Considering the tone of the graphic is also important. Depending on the nature of your campaign and the intended message, the tone can vary from light-hearted and playful to serious and informative. Communicate the desired tone to the graphic designer, providing examples or references if possible.
This helps the designer capture the right visual style and mood that resonates with your target audience.
When it comes to creating and using graphics in digital PR content campaigns there are several things to keep in mind.
While it can be exciting to have so many great data points to illustrate, it’s important to avoid overcrowding your graphics with information. Cramming too much content into a single graphic can overwhelm the viewer and dilute the impact. Sometimes the elements you leave out are just as important as what you leave in.
When selecting statistics for your graphics, choose percentages that grab attention. Whether it’s a low percentage to highlight a problem or a high percentage to showcase success, leveraging percentages that stand out helps draw the viewer’s attention and makes your message more impactful.
Avoid using percentages around 50% as they may appear less remarkable or less persuasive compared to extremes. Leave out “no duh” stats, things that are obvious or common knowledge. Focus on including data points that provide insights, spark curiosity, or challenge common assumptions.
Be sure your graphics align with the brand and style guidelines of the website or platform where they will be displayed. Consistency in visual elements such as color schemes, fonts, and overall design aesthetic strengthens your client’s brand identity.
One bonus of graphic designs is building brand awareness by following style guidelines!
And while it may be tempting to use your beautiful graphics in outreach and email communications, we suggest you don’t. While the graphics enhance the content, it’s important to consider that some email recipients may block or disable images by default. To ensure the message is effectively conveyed, rely on concise and compelling copywriting with a link to the content campaign.
Graphics have the power to convey narratives in a concise and visually appealing way. Whether it’s through a map infographic that highlights geographic trends or a ranking graphic that shows things from best to worst, a single graphic can capture the essence of a story and communicate data findings in a more compelling way.
Storytelling with graphics can make your pieces of content more memorable for journalists and ultimately lead to more media coverage, and aid in link building, for your client.