By Bill Penn – There’s no escaping the fact that in marketing and communications, the visual image is in the ascendancy and long-form copy is being eased into a supporting role.

The opportunities for sharing images and video via almost every device you can think of are seemingly endless. As for text, especially clunky old stuff like white papers, long articles and opinion pieces, just how do you share them these days? How do you create the kind of viral buzz or search results that a funny, clever or arresting video or image can achieve globally in a matter of minutes? How can a three-page press release compete with a brilliant infographic?

So when we are trying to tell a story, characterise a brand, change perceptions or get people to buy something or do something (like vote at the coming General Election), why do so many marketing and communications people still think that words come before pictures? All the evidence suggests it should be the other way round.

Inertia rules OK in marketing. Professionals have their tried and tested methods. They have read the books, done the training courses and they know best. That’s why just five per cent of PR budgets were dedicated to visual content in 2014, according to research by PR Newswire.

And yet, we live in a visual world. People want to be told stories and given information visually with a few words in support, not the other way round. If you think of the media, as we do, simply as the communications universe, then images and videos are the twinkling stars and planets that we all see and point out to each other in the night sky.

At Aspectus PR, we believe that there is usually a place for sharp copy and text (which is why we are writing this, after all). But when we have a story to tell, we start with visual stories, an idea for an image, a video or an infographic. Increasingly, this visual narrative is the creative font from which everything else flows.

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