Brands tell a visual storyAs the world gets more social, public relations strategists need to include a visual element in their storytelling.

Telling a story across online channels can be powerful. Images can connect an audience with the story and trigger an emotional response. Videos and other visual messages can be shared quickly through social media channels and build buzz around a campaign.

Images that are relevant are as important as the story itself. Pictures don’t always have to be professionally taken or sourced from stock photo sites like iStockphoto. In fact, it is recommended to use a more realistic and relevant photo even if it is taken by an employee’s smartphone on the fly. Sharing photos on sites such as Flickr and Instagram further enforce your messaging and extend it to new networks.

Infographics and sound-bite graphics are a quick way to get a point across, whether it be results from a research project or explaining hard-to-comprehend information more easily. Graphic designers can help create them or there are some DIY sites for creating infographics like

Slideshows and presentations can be shared through sites like Slideshare and offer supporting messaging and imagery. Be sure to go through your company library and repurpose your content as visually as you can.

Videos can be more costly to produce and difficult to get greenlit, but are very effective in getting your entire message across in a powerful way. Even user-generated videos submitted by customers serve as live testimonials and are more authentic than a professional corporate video. Consumers demand video and the success of YouTube shows that videos will be around for awhile.

You can even tell a visual story from online and social media sources using Storify.

Establishing a visual element strategy can also improve your search engine optimization (SEO). No matter what medium your messaging, including a visual element to your public relations strategy is crucial to its future success.