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Painting a PR Picture

Published on February 23, 2021, at 2:42 p.m. 
by Taylor Tobin.

When you think about public relations, does graphic design come to mind? What do you see when you open your Instagram account or walk out of your apartment door? Graphic design is interwoven into everything we see and do. Combining eye-catching graphic designs with public relations creates a story and develops relationships through imagery.

Many people have come to believe that public relations mostly consists of writing, but it is quite the opposite. Public relations thrives on the interconnection of writing and graphic design.

“Graphic design melds the written word with the image, and the whole function of graphic design is to convey a message,” explained Lynne Porter, director of graphic design at Fairfield University.

Photo by Georgie Cobbs on Unsplash

Graphic designers provide the communication outlet for PR practitioners. Graphics are designed to catch the viewer’s eye and pique their interest to learn and want to know more. Graphic design could be the difference between a potential consumer picking up a book or simply walking past it.

The beauty of graphic design is being able to tell a story through pictures and art. The use of graphic design can often create a picture for a product that becomes easily recognizable anywhere. Take Starbucks, for example. Once you see the green mythological creature on the cup of coffee, you know it was purchased at Starbucks. The founders wanted a brand that would be easily recognizable and that stood to their character. The founders chose the Siren to represent the company because of the two’s connection to the seafaring world. Now, the little green design on a cup is the face of a multibillion dollar and multinational company.

Michael Little, a senior instructor for the College of Communication and Information Sciences at The University of Alabama, said that graphics and visuals provide more efficient communication and “communicate across many language barriers.”

According to Little, public relations communication is not just the written component. “Imagery and design goes hand in hand with the verbal resulting in more memorable storytelling.”

For graphic designers, it is necessary to understand how to pull in consumers through their art and create the relationships needed for the success of public relations. It is all about asking “how can we create something that will make people remember us and want to know our story?”

The interconnection of public relations and graphic design is about making a brand known so that public relations practitioners can then build lasting connections. Porter describes graphic design as being the “conduit between the message and the audience.” Graphic designers use imagery to strengthen the recognition of a brand, while PR practitioners use the design to get their point across.

Porter also noted that graphic design matters anytime you are trying to convey a message. So much of what we do today, especially with the increase in technology use as a result of the current coronavirus pandemic, is affected by graphic designs. The message of graphic design is seen in the rise of Zoom backgrounds, recognizing places, products and companies.

“People are intrigued by aesthetically pleasing things and that message has to be related,” Porter said.

The use of graphic design within the public relations industry grows stronger every day. The connection makes it necessary for individuals contemplating pursuing a career in the industry to have experience working on the creation of both digital and print media.

“People that graduate today are expected by the companies they will work for to do things on the visual side,” Little said. “Public relations students are being very naive if they believe that they will not have to work on images upon graduation.”

Creating the perfect visual and verbal combination catalyzes the brand’s ability to transcend across language barriers successfully. The combination of verbal and visual must be communicated together for a successful campaign.

Photo by Jeroen den Otter on Unsplash

Social media is stepping up the game with how news is delivered. Successful graphic designers must find ways to keep up with the changes. The majority of news today is received digitally, specifically through social media platforms. Graphic designers are responsible for creating engaging and consistent content for each of these applications.

Creating graphics can be done in a variety of ways with applications such as Canva and Adobe software. Using these resources to create products for social media is ideal. For example, in Instagram posts, the majority of a brand’s content provides design. Looking at The Mayfair Group Instagram account, we see a combination of detailed graphics and personal photos to create a specific aesthetic and design for the brand. It is an eye-catching and engaging performance on a person’s feed page.

Now is the time to create a memorable experience for viewers. Graphic designers create designs that highlight the message of the brand. Brands are looked at as the company’s assets, leading to the importance of design work. A good design and outline of the brand can lead to a personal connection with the consumer and create a long-term relationship between the brand and the consumer.

Graphic design allows for companies to paint the picture for success. The next time you see a product, perhaps you will ask yourself, “How is the graphic design impacting my decision-making process?”

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