Do journalists hate infographics?

I’m going to go ahead and open this blog post with a caveat: it’s based on feedback from just two people. I’m aware that the plural of anecdotes is not data.

With that caveat I found the feedback interesting enough that I want to share.

This week my company put out it’s first infographic (I know, I know. We are behind.) Kudos to the incomparable Tom Sather who created it.

Journalist #1 is a guy who knows our company well, knows our industry and is a big fan of ours. His reaction to the infographic was (and I’m nearly quoting here): “I hate infographics! But I’m happy to interview Tom.” He wrote a great story.

Journalist #2 is a woman who knows our company a bit, knows our industry well but may not fully understand what we do and how we are different from other players in the space. She’s also very skeptical of vendor research, though she did cover our last report. Her feedback was basically puzzlement. She wanted to see “the full study.” We gave her the press release and a blog post Tom wrote. So far no coverage yet but hard to tell if that’s because it’s an infographic or some other reason. The lack of a proper “paper” does seem to be a factor.

In terms of overall coverage it’s a bit too early to tell, both because clips are still coming in and because we haven’t analyzed it yet. But a couple quick thoughts:

1. Some people like pictures, others like words, serve both: Infographics are great, but some people need to *read* something. And I’m guessing that a lot of journalists fall into this camp. So having something written to accompany the infographic is important to.

2. The press release, despite many obituaries, isn’t really dead. This is related to #2, but deserves it’s own call out. The release can serve as the written piece, especially for things that just wouldn’t work as a study or research paper. Key is for the release to be interesting and to have real news in it. Did I have to tell you that?

3. Relationships matter. Journalist #1 has such a great relationship with us that he’d likely have covered our story if I’d just given him a call and pitched it to him cold. Much of the other coverage is coming as the result of a lot of work building relationships with key reporters by giving them good stories for years. I can’t imagine we’d get this kind of coverage just chucking an infographic across to a bunch of people who don’t know us.

4. Tell a good story. Infographics aren’t interesting. Stories are interesting. Infographics can be a great vehicle for telling a story. But if you don’t have a good story then you’ve got nothing. Start over.

What’s been your experience with infographics?

2 thoughts on “Do journalists hate infographics?”

  1. Your 4th point is spot on, and really applies to any tactic. I think infographics are ideal for the type of story that could result in organic pass along among your end audience if presented in the right way. The visual, easily sharable nature is powerful in that case. Otherwise, many outlets that run infographics prefer to create their own, making them a questionable investment if editorial pickup is the goal.

    1. Ali — Thanks for the comment! And you actually made another point that is a great one — you have to know your goal! Infographics are easily shareable and that might be the objective, depending on the campaign. The good news is so far we seem to be generating great coverage!

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