By Laura D’Alessandro, Integrated Media Editor, American Public Power Association, ASBPE National Blog Chair
As B2B editors, we know one of our biggest challenges is shrinking staffs. We’re already all trying to more with less. So why waste time making infographics? It turns out, they’re an important part of multi-platform storytelling.
Not only are our staffs shrinking, but so are the attention spans of our readers. But images draw readers in — especially images that tell stories. Hearing a story uses seven parts of our brains — looking at pictures only uses two. Here are 10 tips that will have your team telling great stories through infographics.
- Create the channel
Infographics may not be part of our regular workflows — we’re gathering the news for daily articles, weekly features, monthly magazine long-form, and translating that all to social and email marketing. We might even be working on videos or blog posts, too. So where to infographics fit? Just give yourself the option to tell the story that way. Build it into the workflow.
- Know your goal
Nicole McDermott, an infographics writer for Ghergich & Co. who worked on this infographic — named one of the best in 2015 by Visual.ly — says researching an infographic isn’t the same as researching an article. An infographic needs key takeaways, or even action items. It should be a visual tool, in addition to a story.
- Get clear on your story
Without a story, infographics are just pretty pictures. They have to tell stories. There might be a lot of infographics out there on the same topic you’re focusing on — just do a Google image search and you’ll find that’s likely true. So get clear on what story you want to tell.
- Think visually
Instead of thinking about a narrative, you need to think about what aspects of the story can be easily conveyed visually — any numbers, percents and dollar amounts are great for this. McDermott says your copy only makes up about one quarter of the infographic, so whatever you say needs to have impact.
- Research, research, research
We’re all journalists here, right? So this goes without saying — explore an infographic topic just as you would any article. Become an expert. Do as much research as you can. You’re going to whittle this all down into something so concise that it really needs a strong research backing to have impact.
- Document those sources
There’s no room on an infographic for he said and she said. Even an asterisk or source list is cumbersome. Just document the sources thoroughly and keep a list so if you receive questions, you know where to point.
- Get concise with your content
Shorter really is better for infographics. You need to tell the biggest story with the fewest words. McDermott says sometimes that means compromising great sentence structure for brevity.
- Focus, narrow
I know, you’ve already got your angle and gotten concise, but you need to narrow again. Just take another pass. Remember that infographic copy needs to be some of the most concise copy you create. My motto is a riff on the old carpentry adage, measure twice, cut once — for infographic copy, write once, cut twice (and maybe even cut again.)
- Suggest concepts
Your graphic designer is likely going to do the brunt of the work here and have great ideas to contribute, but your suggestions help, too. Like Hanley Wood’s Aubrey Altmann said, infographics are some of the most collaborative projects for writers and designers — it’s all about communication. Give them somewhere to start.
- Stick to your turnaround deadlines
This can prove especially difficult when translating complex, internal documents (think whitepapers, annual reports or internal policies) into easy-to-read infographics. All those internal approvals. Your reviewers may not understand how much work goes into the design of an infographic, so make sure they at least understand the deadlines.
- Bonus tip! Where to get infographic inspiration:
This blog post is based on a presentation from the ASBPE 2016 National Conference. Stay tuned on the blog for more posts from conference speakers.