Why Graphic Design Matters in Public Relations

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Graphic design and public relations are often thought of as two separate disciplines, independent of one another. More and more we are understanding how the two are interconnected and how the combination can increase your impact.

Last weekend, the Grand Valley State University & Ferris State University Public Relations Student Society of America chapters held a regional conference, “Generation Grand: Experience PR in GR,” bringing in industry leaders to discuss their expertise across different emphasis and topics. The conference addressed Green Thinking, Corporate Responsibility, Place & Space Making, Keeping Talent in the Midwest, Maintaining a Creative Community, and more. I had the pleasure of speaking among two other panelists on the topic of “PR for Art: Design & Creative Thinking”.

We know what you’re thinking…design and creative at a PR conference? I don’t get it. However, the crossover of the two is becoming increasingly more relevant as new platforms and channels change the way we see our news.  I would also like to think that over time we have become experts at taking full advantage of traditional communication, and have discovered more creative and strategic ways to push relevant news to our intended publics.

What does creative have to do with PR?

Creative is an all encompassing word but here we are using it to describe the visual components of PR communication. Digital channels are visual focused and design has become a new medium of presenting information. Telling a story through language remains necessary, but on many platforms it takes more than that to stand out. Visuals allows us to tell that same story in a glance and give us the opportunity to leverage mediums that weren’t as accessible traditionally.

How is the shift in PR communications impacting the way designers design?

Gone are the days where public relations means drafting a press release and sending it out on the wire. While that can be a great method for certain newsworthy content, current PR is more about relationship building. What this means is that designers now have to consider how branding influences more than just your target audience. When we talk about building relationships with media, key influencers within a certain industry, we want our brand stand out. We want them to feature us and talk about us. More importantly we want them to actually connect with the brand long term.

Keeping a design within the brand’s guidelines isn’t enough to communicate who you are and what you stand for anymore. Designing is now about creating an experience using a printed piece, a social post, etc. Don’t tell them about the brand, show what it’s like to be a part of it. Creating something that offers a chance to engage is more impactful than solely communicating information.

 

The idea of integrated communications as a whole is becoming the trend in the industry. Marketing efforts are more effective when all areas contribute to a larger picture. Your branding, messaging, and communication channels are all connected and need to be strategic and consistent. This includes using visuals as a tool for all channels to make a lasting connection.

 

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