In both May 2021 and May 2022 my #DogsAtPollingStations photos went viral. They attracted lots of attention on Twitter and were picked up by the press. This blog highlights what I did to make life easy for the press and for myself on the day.
When my #DogsAtPollingStations tweet went viral in May 2021 I was completely unprepared, I’d never experienced a day like it! It was massively exciting but also overwhelming, confusing and exhausting. So in May 2022 I wanted to be better prepared if my photo attracted attention. Here are the five things I did to make sure the day went smoothly! If you have a photo that does really well then these tips are easy to implement.
Get your picture out early
I tweeted my photos at around 8.45am. For this time-sensitive news day (Election Day) it meant my photos were available less than 2 hours into a 15 hour day (the Polling Stations are open 7am – 10pm), just when the newsdesks and picture desks were starting to plan their coverage.
Reach out to the press
On a busy news day the press are actively looking for great content so don’t be afraid to approach them with your images. I DM’d some of the media outlets that had published my 2021 photo plus a few that hadn’t – I did my research first so I approached the relevant people. I’m not one for pushing myself forward so I find sending a DM easier than selling myself on the phone or face to face – in all honesty the worst that can happen is they don’t reply!
Make crediting really easy
When the press want to use your content (in fact when anyone wants to use it), the most important thing is that you’re credited as the creator. You own the copyright to the content. Not the social media channels, not Google, not anyone else, just YOU.
Whoever uses your photo needs your express permission to publish it – that’s part of copyright law. Assuming you do grant permission, the publisher must make it crystal clear – whether it’s print or digital media – that the content was created by YOU. You decide whether you want them to use your name, your business name and/or your social media handle.
I made sure that the Twitter Alt Text for the photos included all the information required for crediting. I described the photo so the picture desks knew where the polling station was, when the photo was taken AND I included my name and Twitter handle. It meant the information was clear and easily accessible for publishers. When I granted permission I clarified that the information I wanted them to use was in the Alt Text.
Give the press options
If your aim is to gain press interest give the picture desks options. In 2022 my tweet included 4 slightly different images of the same scene – a couple were a bit more close up of the dogs. 2 were landscape orientation and 2 portrait orientation. Landscape’s usually preferred by publishers, but portrait’s generally better to use on Instagram, and I wanted to cover all bases.
As my photos started to attract interest, I tweeted again, this time
with outtakes I’d taken. These pictures gave context and authenticity to the project. If any media outlets wanted to write a bigger story, it showed them how I’d created the content. It also added some humour (have you ever tried to photograph 10 dogs all at once?!).
I kept my communications with press short, to the point and friendly. I got back to enquiries straight away. Everyone’s busy and just trying to do their job. And the following day I tweeted a thank you to the press who’d published my photo. It’s so easy to say thank you, why wouldn’t you?!
So these are my five top tips for making a viral day go smoothly. If you make life easy for the press and picture desks they’re far more likely to use your image. You’ll also save yourself a lot of stress! I’ve learnt so much through this experience and I’ll be writing a further blog on the practical process to help create successful photos on a news day.
If you’d like any advice on your own content creation do get in touch! And come on over to my Twitter to say hi!