A few weeks ago I was developing a communication training program for new managers for one of my clients, and needed some visuals to liven up the slide presentation.
After what seemed like hours searching through affordable stock photography from a variety of sources, I came to the conclusion that the creative directors and photographers responsible for “business” images have never actually worked in an office environment.
Don’t believe me? OK, try this: go to your favorite stock photography website and search for images of “staff meeting.”
What kind of crazy meeting is this? Is this some type of a pop quiz and the guy at the top of the image is afraid that someone is going to steal his answers?
Or how about this one, which I have subtitled: “Two attractive young corporate executives are distracted from their colorful charts when Superman flies past the conference room.”
My personal favorite is an image you will see over and over, in infinite variations: A group of people gathered around an open laptop computer, all pointing at something on the screen. I’d venture to say that this type of behavior does not exist outside a photo shoot (or an episode of “The Office”).
Now, I realize that, when funds are doled out at budget time, the internal communications team is always at the end of the line. I’ve spent more than 20 years in Fortune 50 companies launching companywide programs with little to no funding.
So I feel your pain, internal communicators. Yes, these low-cost stock photography suppliers seem like a great solution to your budget woes. But you must resist the temptation.
You probably have a smart phone. If you don’t, I’m sure one of your coworkers does.
Rather than purchasing a generic (and somewhat bizarre) image like this one (Is it just me, or does it look like the standing guy is about to get violent?),
You will see groups of people collaborating, teams brainstorming and coworkers simply chatting as they exchange information about the projects they are working on.
These real-world images offer you three very important benefits:
- They reflect your true work environment (the demographics of your workforce and your physical space), which reinforces the credibility of your communications;
- They feature actual co-workers, which creates a “buzz” among your workforce and drives readership; and
- They are free, which allows you to spend your meager budget in other areas.
Let me close with a special message to all the creative directors and stock photographers out there who might be interested in creating images that reflect the reality of the business world: Call me. I can help you.