Infographics: Not as easy as they look

I’ve never been the most technically minded person in the world, so when I was tasked with the job of creating an infographic I didn’t know where to start. Lucky for me there is Google, and with the click of a button I was presented with many blogs rating the top 10 awesome free tools to make infographics. After much deliberation I went with Many Eyes, the tool that allows you to upload your own data and transform it into ‘visualisations’. The visualisations available range from bubble charts to scatter diagrams and world maps, they are easy to use and present the information in a clear concise way – what more could you ask for? Below is my attempt at an infographic, it represents social media usage across the most popular channels in the UK…

                                                                                                                            

It has to be said that this isn’t the most appealing infographic out there, there are so many more which represent this information in a much more visually entertaining way.  Here’s an examples:

       

Infographics have been around since 7500 BC and have developed and evolved over time into the digitally designed graphics that we all recognise today. The purpose of infographics is to present complex information in an easy to read clear format, this could explain why there is an abundance of them in the media. Magazines, newspapers and bloggers use them to make what they’re saying that little bit more interesting, break up the text and fill the white space, PR professionals are also using them when presenting results or demographics in reports or presentations.

Infographics is a versatile tool to use, one that can be understood globally and enjoyed by many. So fingers crossed with a bit more practice I’ll be a pro at designing them and I can start posting them all over the place!

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How original are your ideas?

To be a public relations practitioner you will need to possess a certain amount of creativity, imagination and some outside of the box thinking. Even when we possess these attributes is it possible for one to be truly original? My personal opinion is… No.

My view is that ‘new’ ideas are simply extensions of old ones, modified to fit the era and timescale they’re currently in.  Ideas can be innovative and unusual but will always embody aspects that can be linked back to something that has come before.

Whilst in my placement with Red Lorry Yellow Lorry we had many brainstorming sessions to come up with ‘new’ ideas for current and perspective clients. As much as they might not have been new to the world they were possibly new and totally original to that client, therefore giving them a new lease of life. It’s with these ideas that we won new business and held onto our clients, and we did a pretty good job of it.

The lorries way of having a successful brainstorm:

  1. The lorry running the show will provide background information on what they need to get out of the brainstorm, giving everyone a chance to do a little research and put their thinking caps on
  2. Get as many bums on seats as possible – providing rewards always works well (doughnuts, cookies, sweets and if it’s Friday afternoon a beer is always nice etc)
  3. Don’t be shy, let your whacky side shine but always keep in mind who the client is and the target audience
  4. Keep order during the brainstorm, try not to go off on a tangent
  5. Use a whiteboard, the glass wall or even an old fashioned notepad to make notes
  6. Say thanks and give everyone a pat on the back 🙂

Like I said before I don’t believe true originality is possible, but using the Lorry way of thinking and brainstorming I’ve been shown it’s definitely possible to be innovative and creative.

Could you live without your platforms? What about the channels?

When was the last time you went out for lunch or dinner with a friend and
didn’t use your phone? You most probably inadvertently had a quick peek and then left it on the table just to keep an eye on it encase you received a call, text message or email. Smart phones, iPhones and androids have changed the way we live our lives dramatically, we’re social creatures and we crave communication even when there’s someone sat opposite us that we can talk to. We need to be communicating with as many people as possible across as many channels as possible at all times.

Student cafeteria - teenage couple with mobile phone during lunch break Stock Photo - 7013005

I’ve been lucky enough to grown up in a generation where there have been so many technological advances that you don’t know when the next best thing will be released and what impact it will have on society and inevitably the world. Some of the changes I’ve witnessed are:

VCR-DVD-BlueRay-HD

Tape-CD-MP3-iPod-Headphones that play music

2D-3D cinema

Analogue-digital-internet enabled TV

Mobiles-smartphones

Desktop computers-laptops-netbooks-tablets

Finally a house without internet to a house that can’t live without it!!

Not all of these platforms were communication device years ago but they are now, they’re internet enabled platforms that are with you 24/7 no matter where you are and what you’re doing. But these platforms are nothing without their channels. Channels are the communications tools you use to communicate, they are the websites you visit, emails you send, blogs you write and social networks you use.

These channels and platforms together have changed the way we communicate, consumers are able to have conversations, give opinions and speak directly to the organisation, receiving feedback instantly – you can thank Twitter for that. With the internet moving so fast and changing the way we communicate on a daily basis PR professionals must be sure to take notice of the five specific elements that are said to be the driving force behind online PR. The elements are transparency, porosity, agency, richness and reach.

Transparency – it’s now essential for organisations to appear transparent, open and honest. In a time where consumers can discover pretty much anything on the internet, organisations need not hide anything as they will be ousted sooner or later. If an organisation is honest consumers can trust them and will be loyal to their brands, but the moment they lie or act unethically they will lose their following and the news will be across the internet in no time.

Porosity – is the leaking of information on the internet or to another communication source, this can be on purpose or by accident, either way it can damage the organisations reputation. Organisations use a number of communication channels and there is no way of controlling what is shared through them at all time, eventually an irresponsible or dishonest person will share confidential information with the wider public hurting the organisation greatly. In cases such as these organisations need to act quickly and honestly with the public to ensure they uphold their reputation and remain open with their consumers.

Agency – emphasises the publics’ role in producing user generated content, they’re producers and sharers as well as consumers. This is a great development for consumers as they can now rely on one another for honest reporting on organisations and brands, they are creating the conversation. However this can have an unfortunate effect on organisations as they have no control over what is written about them – reiterating the idea of transparency in organisations and the pressing need for it.

Richness and Reach – richness refers to the content on the internet and how it’s always improving and updating, reach is the amount of people you communicate with across a variety of channels. For organisations the internet is a beneficial tool when communicating with their consumers, however it is also a tool consumers can use to discuss, therefore organisations need to make sure the information they provide on the internet is the truth and isn’t damaging to their reputation – linking back to transparency.

Platforms and channels have changed the way we communicate and will continue to do so as they evolve into more creative and innovative products and as we ourselves evolve as a participatory audience. It’s imperative for PR professionals in this digitally enhanced age to adopt these elements into daily PR practice in order for them themselves and their clients to be successful.