Telling a visual story: How strong photos and videos enhance writing projects and storytelling

By Lauren Ready, Forever Ready Productions

There’s always more to the story. That’s something I say a lot, especially after all my years working as a TV news reporter with tight deadlines and time-limited news slots. The headline is only the beginning of the story. And the quickly written body might not be much more.

Whether it’s a press release, blog, social media post or newsletter, if your audience clicks, they want to know more. The photo and/or video is what gets you interested in the rest of the story. Longer written content can give greater context and data. And that’s why adding photos and videos to your writing makes the possibilities endless.

If you’re reading this, you’re consuming something in written form and I’m grateful. But if this were a video, attached to a newsletter email or webpage, you’d be MORE likely to click it in the first place. And then, if it piques your interest enough, you’d keep reading, click deeper and learn more.

One of my favorite parts about video or photography is what it can do to enhance your written story. Video transports your audience. You can hear and see inside a place you’ve never been or from a person you’ve never met. Similarly, photos can take you behind closed doors, along a journey or to new heights (think drone photography!).

So what does this mean for you? It means investing (money,time or both) in good video and photography. It means thinking about how video and photography adds to the story you’re trying to tell, perhaps leaving out some of the details in written form and teasing the video included in the post. Each medium should be able to stand on its own, but when consumed together, they can tell a more complete story that’s beyond the headline.

One recent example of this came from a year of canceled in-person events. We found ourselves producing dozens of virtual events. Instead of having a captive audience in the room, we had to get people interested enough to watch a LIVE event online for a period of time, in real time! The ones that stood out and saw the most success had strong video and even stronger storytelling. You can see several examples of strong video storytelling from our Dinner With Dorothy event in March.

Instead of telling the entire story in the writing, we left room to share part of the story through video. We dropped “nuggets” throughout the event to keep people interested and shared real-time photos from people watching at home. When sharing video stories, we showcased the heart of the work or the “why” behind the work. Following the events, online and in email blasts, the same stories were shared to people who may have missed the event. And as a result people donated, volunteered and shared the stories too.

Beyond the virtual event space, including strong photos or videos alongside written work adds a new dimension to storytelling in ways that reach people wherever they are. This is especially true for those of us who are visually minded. I know I’m biased, but I prefer visuals over reading a long post any day.So the next time you think about sending something to your customers, donors or audience, think about what visuals will tell the “more” part of the story. How can they help enhance what’s already written? And what piece needs to be seen, not read?

Tell the story beyond the headline. Make people want to know more!