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How To Use Images And Photos To Make Your Press Releases POP Most press releases are little more than text. They're published without the important bells and whistles that draw readers' attention. Lacking photos or graphics, they merely convey information, leaving the reader to decide whether the story is engaging enough to actually read.   That's leaving a huge opportunity on the table. Our eyes tend to gravitate toward images in a way that text cannot match. Whether real-life photos or computer-generated graphics, images attract our attention and help us connect with and remember the content.   Ask yourself: have you ever seen an effective marketing brochure that didn't use photos? Have you ever seen a high-converting sales page online that lacked them? Probably not. And neither should you distribute press releases without including some type of image that supports your story.  

Why You Need To Include An Image With Your Press Release

  There are two main reasons to include photos in your news announcements. First, they play a major role in reader engagement. Nothing tells a story better than a well-thought out picture.    They also help to differentiate your announcement from others. Editors are unlikely to ask their peers, "Did you read the press release about the Maryland dentist doing gum rejuvenation?" Instead, they'll ask each other, "Did you see the release with the photos of the receding gums?" Stunning images stand out in people's minds.   The second reason is that they can help your rankings in Google. If your images are properly named, relevant to your story, and tagged with the right keyword terms, they'll send a signal that Google should pick up on.  

When Should You Use Photos In Your Press Releases?

  The simple answer is always. Any news announcement worth publishing is worth publishing with a feature image. The image helps the reader to create a connection in their mind between your company and the subject of your press release.    They may forget what they read in your release, but they'll remember the photo you used. The association it creates in the reader's mind will stick around long after they click away.  

Let Your Feature Image Tell The Story

  Pictures tell stories. They can capture the essence of a story, providing context and conveying to the reader what the story is about. The right image can describe in a moment what your press release says.   For example, suppose you're announcing the hiring of a new sales manager. Include a headshot of the manager with a caption providing his name and the role he’ll play in your company. If you're announcing the launch of a new product, include a photo of it and describe its main benefit and when it will be released.   Here's an example of a press release that uses an image to great effect. The image of the vicious dog makes it clear why dog bite laws exist. The release goes on to explain how laws vary in neighboring states, and how a dog bite attorney can help.    Here's another example that uses an image to instantly tell the story of a mobile app that digitally opens your car doors.    And here's another news release with a photo that attracts attention. Without even reading the title, you know it has something to do with yoga.   

Hire A Professional Photographer For The Shoot

  Don't use your iPhone to shoot images for your press releases. And don't ask your friend who's just getting into photography to do the honors.    Hire a professional.   Your photos and images need to be clear, captivating, and high-quality. A professional photographer will know how to arrange the shot so that it tells a story rather than just putting people or products on display. He or she will know how to set the tone, use special lighting, and frame the subject matter to grab the viewer's attention.  

Include A Clear, Descriptive Caption Under Your Photo

  Any image you add to a press release should be accompanied by a caption. A great caption can make the picture come alive. A poorly-written caption can ruin the effect and can even be confusing to readers.   If your photo shows a person, identify him or her and explain who the individual is. If the person is doing something, describe the action, but avoid editorializing it. Don’t assume the reader knows the context of the photo. Explain it, but be concise.   Avoid humor in your captions. Not only is there too little room, but there's a good chance the humor will be lost on the reader.   Finally, don't forget to optimize your image captions for SEO. In addition to being able to include a description or caption, Online PR Media also lets you add an alt tag. These are the words that will display in the event the image doesn't load. When you include keywords, it also helps Google understand the context of the picture as it relates to your press release so that it can be indexed appropriately in the search engine results pages.    Photographs and images are critical for making your press releases come alive. Remember, you're publishing them online, where visual elements are essential for grabbing and keeping a person's attention.   If you're not including an image with every press release you send out, now's the time to make a change!  

Your Turn!

  Are you including photos or images in your press releases? If so, how do you plan your shots? What factors do you take into account to create the best photo possible for the occasion? Share your tips in the comment section below!  
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Publicity Ideas For Insurance Agents: 6 Creative Ways To Promote Your Services According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are nearly 400,000 insurance agents nationwide. To say the field is competitive is an understatement, and as an agent, you know firsthand that it takes more than hard work and dedication to be successful. You need a way to stand apart from the pack so people in your city will notice you.    That's where generating publicity comes in. It ensures your name is on prospects' minds. When the time comes for them to purchase an insurance product, they'll think of you and pick up the phone.   How do create buzz around your services? Read on for 6 ideas that are simple, cost-effective, and even fun!  

#1 - Sponsor A Charitable Organization

  One surefire way to become known in your community is to sponsor a local nonprofit or charitable organization. For example, if you sell car insurance, you could sponsor your local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. If you sell life insurance, sponsor a small hospital or medical center in your city.   You can also sponsor your local fire department, youth sports teams, or your city's Boy Scout or Girl Scouts troops. There are hundreds of charitable or nonprofit organizations that would love to receive your help, and in return you receive exposure for your agency.  

#2 - Host A Seminar

  Seminars aren't easy. They take a considerable amount of time and effort to plan, organize, and host. But they can be a great platform to get your name in front of prospective clients. If you host them on a regular basis, you may even become a minor celebrity in your town.   Your success will depend largely on the audience you attract to your seminars. The safe bet is to focus on a particular problem or challenge your prospects are facing. For example, are they having trouble deciding between a whole life insurance product and term life? If so, create a seminar that explains the differences, provides the pros and cons of each, and provides some real world scenarios. Are they confused about how life insurance can help them with their estate planning goals? If so, focus your seminar on that topic.   The narrower your subject matter, the more targeted your audience. Better targeting makes it easier to convert prospects into clients.  

#3 - Wear Your Services

  Buy some high-quality polo and button-down shirts, and print the name of your agency and your phone number on them. It's also a good idea to list the types of insurance products you sell (life, health, auto, motorcycle, property, etc.). By wearing the shirts, you'll subtly promote your business to the people you meet during your day.   You can also buy t-shirts imprinted with your business name to give to your friends, family members, employees, and policyholders. Resist the temptation to cut corners on quality just to save a few bucks. Spend a little extra for t-shirts that people will be inclined to wear outside the house.  

#4 - Wrap Your Company Vehicle

  A vehicle wrap is exactly what it sounds like. You "wrap" your car, truck, or SUV with your business name, logo, and contact details. Wherever you drive, whether on freeways, high-traffic streets, or side roads, people will see the name of your business.    Keep in mind, a poorly-done wrap can be an eyesore. This is one place to spring for a professional to create a tasteful design that catches attention.   

#5 - Place A Car Wreck Near Your Office

  This idea is useful if you sell auto insurance. Contact a local junkyard and ask the owner to donate a wreck that you can park near your office's entry. The wreck will make an unforgettable impression on customers, prospects, and passersby. It will remind people that car accidents can happen to anyone. Hence, it's imperative that they have sufficient liability auto insurance.   It's worth noting that your local city officials may not fully appreciate your parking a wreck in plain view. They might ask (or demand) that you remove it. Even if there are local ordinances prohibiting the wreck, try to negotiate a deal whereby you can display it one weekend per month. Mention that it's for a good cause: reducing the number of drivers on the road who lack insurance coverage.  

#6 - Get A Mascot

  Mascots are just plain fun, and you can find basic costumes for relatively cheap on eBay. Enlist a friend to help you sew some custom accessories (and another friend or employee to actually wear the costume), then start pounding the pavement. Attend events at the schools or Girl Scout troops you sponsor. Show up to a local car show. Even have your mascot stand on the sidewalk if your agency gets a lot of foot traffic.   

Get The Word Out

  While a vehicle wrap or promotional shirt automatically promotes your name, sometimes you're still going to have to actively get the word out. Those seminars we discussed? While no doubt valuable to the right audience, you have to get bodies in the seats first. Promote your upcoming events by distributing an online press release, posting on your website and social media sites, and even consider geofencing advertising.   Not familiar with geofencing? It's a technology that creates an invisible perimeter around a specific location. When a mobile user enters the 'fence' they will get a mobile ad on their device, usually when using an app or search engine. As a marketer, you can put a fence around any location, not just your own. For example, you can use geofencing around your city's local car dealerships. When a shopper is sitting in the sales department playing a game on their phone, they see an ad for your auto insurance agency. Because people buying new cars need auto insurance, right?!      As an insurance agent, no one needs to remind you about the competitiveness of the market. You see it firsthand on a daily basis. The good news is that you can distinguish yourself from the competition in a number of simple, affordable and fun ways.   

Your Turn!

  If you're an insurance agent, what tactics are you using to generate publicity for your business? What things have you tried in the past that flopped? Are you planning any events in the near future? Tell us about your experiences and plans by leaving a comment below!   
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Simple Social Media Marketing Tricks To Boost Holiday Sales It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and even large retailers rely on consumers' Q4 spending habits to make up a huge chunk of their total annual revenue. During the holiday season, people are even more prepared than usual to open their pocketbooks. In fact, the average American plans to spend nearly $800 on Christmas gifts this season.   Want a share of the action? Using social media marketing greatly increases your chances; a recent study showed that 37% of online shoppers say they use social media for purchase inspiration. Here are some quick tips to help you capitalize on an audience that is ready to spend.
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