Michelle Han January 8, 2015 | 05:32:01

Five Ways To Use Instagram For PR Programs

Visual images often have an emotional punch that text lacks — a worthwhile consideration for anyone developing a compelling PR campaign. To understand the power of visual communication in our business, look at the meteoric rise of Instagram. Since the photo-sharing app is based entirely on pictures, certain limitations apply, naturally. But with its more than 200 million users, Instagram offers plenty of potential as a public relations tool. Here are five ways to incorporate Instagram into your PR practices.

Share the more casual side of your brand. Instagram is all about authenticity, fun, and engagement. The professional headshot might work well for the company website, but Instagram can capture the lighter, human side of your brand — the moments people connect with. (The boss in her Halloween costume, perhaps?)

Make announcements creatively. Use Instagram to push out gorgeous shots of new products, an upcoming event, or fun media pieces. And remember to write great captions: include basic information, inspiration, and anything else helpful for followers to know. Add hashtags as you would on Twitter, to increase “searchability” and add to your following.

Research with it. Google lets us ask any question or research any individual and get dozens of answers in 10 seconds flat. But Instagram, as a mobile application (and not a web-based one) often flies under the radar of Internet searches. It’s worth searching through the volumes of captions, hashtags, and location identifiers on Instagram to find information relevant to your products or services. For example, a new restaurant can do a search to identify foodie-types in the neighborhood (based on location tags), who often share photos of their dining experiences, and follow them on Instagram to build clientele.

Crowdsource ideas. Jamie Oliver brilliantly mined his 2.3 million followers on Instagram to help decide which foods to include in his latest book, “Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food.” It was brilliant not only because it was a smart way to come up with lots of ideas and determine (unscientifically) which foods were most popular, but also because it engaged and empowered his followers, a big coup for any brand trying to build loyalty and support.

Crisis communications. The old phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” applies here. Especially during sensitive moments, images tend to carry more weight and poignancy. Case in point: after Jill Abramson’s ouster from the New York Times, the picture her daughter posted on Instagram — of Abramson in boxing gloves —  became the telling image of the whole saga.

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