Let’s face it, Public Relations isn’t just about creative writing, press releases and pitching anymore. With the digital and social media landscape constantly growing and more and more brands competing for space, PR Pros fight to have their clients and brands stand out in a visually-based world. Whether through stunning images, eye-catching graphics or cheeky animations, it’s vital that we become fluent in the new-age language of graphic design, whether creating the visuals ourselves or collaborating with visual artists.
Ok, ok..you might be thinking, ‘graphic design is completely foreign to me’ or ‘I’m creative, but not an artist.’ Have no fear! We have broken down the essentials, so whether you are working with a designer or taking a stab at creating a masterpiece yourself, you will be equipped to make a splash with your creations.
Talk the talk!
You have your campaign, tagline and strategy and now all you need is the creative to take it to the next level. You approach your graphic designer and they ask for a brief and start throwing around jargon. DO NOT PANIC! Not only is it important for you as a PR practitioner to have knowledge of the lingo, but it’s also imperative that you provide a brief to the designer that will ensure they nail the design the first time. Check out the below terms you should know:
Titles, taglines, paragraphs or full-length stories, copy refers to any text that will be included in the design.
Whether you are creating a graphic for web or print, resolution is key to getting a final product that is clear and visually beautiful. When creating a design, make sure you have selected the correct PPI (pixels per inch) or DPI (dots per inch) dependent on the project.
For print, the standard-setting is 300 DPI. For digital, the standard-setting is 300 PPI.
Extremely important in print design, margins are a set amount of space from the edge of the design plane to the interior space of the design. This is where text and important visuals lay to avoid being cut off during printing.
Another important element when creating a design for print! Similar to margins, but on the outside of the design plane, bleeds are almost always necessary in printed materials. This is where the print materials will be cut, so design elements often need to travel off the edges of the page to create a clean edge with no white space.
So now you have some lingo down to effortlessly chat with your designer, but what’s the best way to tell them what you need? You guessed it: a creative brief! Talk to your designer to find out what works best for them, but a few elements to consider including are: Platform (web or print), dimensions, font, brand colours, photos, copy, purpose/objective, target audience, examples or inspiration and sketches of what you would like the final product to look like.
Creative freedom is great, but the key to creating a successful graphic is having a defined purpose and knowing your audience! This is just as important in design as it is when creating a press release or social media post.
Basic Design Principles
If you are taking a stab at creating a design yourself or you are short on time and need to make updates to a file, keeping the key principles of design in mind will ensure you are on the way to creating an attention-grabbing piece. Each of these principles, when used correctly, affects the way your audience consumes information and can assist in telling the story you are trying to convey. Alignment, repetition, contrast, hierarchy, balance-symmetry and balance-tension all influence where the eye settles and what people take away from the graphic they are looking at. We recommend taking a look at Shillington Education’s breakdown of the principles, why they are important and how they help or hinder the graphic you are working with.
It might be overwhelming to look at the plethora of design tools available, Adobe Creative Suite and beyond, that take years of training and practice to get a thorough understanding of. If you are looking to improve your skills with these more complex programs, our first recommendation is to get the software, open it up and begin to explore and get familiar with its interface. There are thousands of articles and YouTube videos that can teach you the ins and outs. For something more user-friendly and easy to learn, Canva is a fantastic option.
Not only does Canva have thousands of templates, design elements and high-quality images, it has more recently introduced video editing tools and exciting photo editing capabilities.