Beijing Olympics: Lost Opportunities

Posted on 7/31/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (1)



For an industry that talks about creative research, the amount of pre-Olympic promotions that focus on mundane concepts and imagery is baffling. Today's press release from U.K.'s rights-managed Tropix Photo Library, which prides itself on being informed on world affairs, invites buyers to explore China beyond the Olympics with a headline that centers on red being the color of luck.

While the imagery is lovely and the collection's breadth impressive, the highlighted topics are off-topic: rural and urban people, medicine, faith, food, etc. At the same time, Tropix is ahead of many independents in that the family-owned business actually took the time to try and make image buyers' lives easier by offering a tangentially related editorial-story pitch, however unlikely.

This and similar promotions by others should shed light on the reasons behind pervasive buyer complaints about seeing the same old images. In truth, it's not about the images themselves, it's about how, when and to whom to pitch them. Clients looking for pictures of China already have a pretty good idea of the desired image type and subject matter; an agency known for travel photography is wasting its resources pitching travel photography to existing clients. Agencies, on both editorial and creative sides of the industry, are missing an opportunity to make sales by relating their content to current events in a more than superficial fashion.

The upcoming Beijing Games offer an unbelievably broad range of story topics. Visuals to illustrate them exist in most collections.

For example, environmental issues remain all the rage, and China is among the world's biggest polluters. In preparing for the games, local officials have gone as far as to limit vehicle use and factory operations. Now, there is even talk of potentially canceling some endurance events for fear of the air's effects on athletes. The reason why so many publishers are running hazy images of the Shenyang Olympic Stadium, supplied by leading news and wire agencies, is because independents either did not send an email or sent the wrong images.

With China treating its Olympic host role as its entry into the big leagues, a host of political and economic issues have been receiving press: Journalists covering the event are struggling with Internet censorship. Beijing streets are patrolled by government-organized vigilantes trying to prevent trouble. Crime has spiked; riots are expected to accompany the mega-billions pumped into the local economy. Other countries are concerned about the increasing loss of jobs and revenues to the cheaper Chinese alternative. There is also the issues of Tibet, corruption and the Communist Party.

These are just key issues. The most obvious keywords, such as "freedom of the press," "democracy," "crime" and "job loss," produce thousands of hits on most stock Web sites. A little forethought, a visit to Google news and knowledge of your collection can easily yield a compelling and relevant story pitch. Yet, with the exception of a couple of high-end reportage agencies, image producers seem to be relying on travel and nature imagery.



Copyright © 2008 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Comments

  • Bill Brooks Posted Aug 1, 2008
    Buyers have a right to complain about seeing the same old images. Film images that stock agencies considered marginal sales performers were edited out to save on scanning costs. Since then most image libraries have edited out diversity of image content by erecting an image toll gate on the internet over concerns that buyers would not find their image on the first search page. Obviously the editing process is wrong headed as many buyers are complaining about the lack of diverse images, and some buyers are even using the wild west unstructured unedited sites like Flickr. The internet is much more than an old fashioned image catalogue in the same way that a computer is much more than a typewriter. Stock photo companies that fail to understand this fact will end up roadkill.

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