Symbols communicate powerful messages, and the best ones are instantly recognized. Another of my favorites is the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile. Or if you’d prefer a hamburger, try Ronald McDonald. The St. Louis Arch celebrates a city that served as the gateway to the American West — as beautiful as it is iconic.
We all know there’s value in these icons, and that value transcends marketing. The Goodyear blimp is a piece of Americana.
Which leads me to my question: What’s an appropriate symbol for public relations — the defining visual that says “Here’s what we are”?
If you were building a website for your PR firm, what would you use as the dominant graphic? When we built the site for Kent State’s new Online PR Master’s, we chose a professional, on-the-go, 30ish female as the primary visual. Fitting for our demographic, but does it say “PR”?
Most brochures and websites highlight people doing PR work. They’re pounding on keyboards, talking on smart phones, meeting with clients — and always, always smiling. Beautiful people. Boring images.
To make matters worse, we save our clients money by using stock photos that everyone knows are stock photos. But since the images communicate so little, does it matter if they’re canned?
Most white-collar professional use the same office tools. So we all look alike at work. I’ve always envied the companies that mine coal, build ships, cut timber or demolish buildings. Their images are colorful and attention-grabbing. And the meaning in those images is self-evident. No captions required.
I’m on a mission to find the perfect PR icon. Do you have ideas for a photo or symbol that exemplifies what this business is all about? Or am I chasing my tail here, trying to capture in a single image of a profession that can’t even define itself?
Unlike much of what I post on this blog, I’m serious this time. So don’t suggest genies emerging from lamps or alchemists in gray flannel suits. And no flying pigs, thank you very much.
I’m searching for the Goodyear blimp of public relations. Help me find it!