Infographics, how nice

Every now and then, so-called innovations in social media need a ‘reality-check’ in the form of a hefty kick up the backside. Hyped infographics are a good example of such an innovation – especially because they don’t work as a replacement for press releases. Press releases are good at distributing news efficiently to a large group of journalists. And at present there is no alternative method equally good at serving this purpose.

I’m not saying that good infographics are not very welcome. I have seen them appearing in all sorts of newspapers and magazines since last century. They can display information clearly and attractively in a very inspired way. So long live the infographic. But let’s not pretend they were invented on Facebook. And let’s be very clear: infographics cannot replace all other forms of communication.

So why do some people -who should know better- lose their common sense when a new social media innovation emerges? This includes Todd, manager at an American PR agency, who likes replacing press releases with infographics. The infographic should actually kill the press release. Kill, kill, destroy! Only very naive questions can be asked under such conditions: if it’s such a fantastic idea, why aren’t we all reading about the fantastic results?

Is there a place for infographics when communicating with the press? Of course there is; it can complement a press release every now and then. To be a real help to journalists, it’s best to give them a spreadsheet with all the data, so their colleagues in the graphics department can work their magic producing an infographic that fits in with the publication’s styleguide.

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