How to easily create an image bank for internal communications
Don’t ignore the power of images
We all know that a picture is worth a lot of words. But did you know that color visuals also increase the willingness to read by 80%?
The rise of digital and social media means that images and visual communication are more important than ever. The huge adoption of image-based social media sites such as Instagram, Vine, Pinterest and even Facebook proves we have an insatiable appetite for powerful images.
Your internal audience is no different.
As internal communicators, it’s vital that we use images to complement stories. However, we can’t just download any old image we find online. Copyright laws still apply to internal communications. And as John Billington explains, “one picture may be worth a thousand headaches”.
Instead of risking the wrath of copyright lawyers, build a bank of images using the free resources listed below and enhance your content for employee newsletters. There’s also lots of tips to help you use them effectively.
First, check your Brand Guidelines:
- Contact your marketing and brand teams to check your organization’s policy on using images within branded communications (including internal newsletters and flyers)
- Explain what you’re doing. They may already have a suite of stock images paid for which can be re-used internally
Start building a free image bank:
There’s a load of free image sites online. Pictures, icons and graphics on these sites are extremely high quality, and are licenced under Creative Commons or Public Domain, meaning you can use them for internal communications without fear of a call from a lawyer.
- Picjumbo has thousands of “totally free photos for your commercial or personal use”
- Unsplash features high resolution images that you can copy, modify, distribute and use for free
- Photopin allows you to search millions of Creative Commons photos for use in communications
- Pixabay hosts free high-quality public domain images “you can use anywhere”
- Stock Free Images have over a million free images you can use
- IM Creator’s IM Free features a “curated collection of free resources, all for commercial use”
- Flickr’s Creative Commons features images that can be used for free provided you attribute credit for the image to the photographer
- Placeit provide images of various devices, and allow you to place your own screenshots on the device screen (making it great for intranet or mobile application launches)
- Canva has a great list of 73 awesome free stock photo resources
Want more inspiration? See Six Revisions’ list of 30 Excellent Resources for Graphic Designer Freebies.
Note: Some of these sites survive through donations. Be a good sport and help them to keep doing a great job for other communicators!
If you’re downloading images from these sites:
- If you’re using images for digital channels only, download low resolution versions. They’re often cheaper on paid-for sites. They’ll also be easier for your audience to load on mobile devices.
- If you want to use images for posters and other print media, you’ll need to get the high-resolution versions.
Run an employee photo competition
- Getting employees involved is a great way to build your image bank, offering insights into the everyday experiences and roles of staff
- Try running a ‘What does working at Company X mean to you’ photo competition. It could provide you with a brilliant bank of employee-related photos
- Make sure you tell employees that images will be used in communications as part of the competition, and always attribute each image to the photographer when using it
Always get photos from employee events
- These days nearly all of us have powerful cameras in our smart phones, so make sure you get someone to take photos of employees at company events
- We’re all naturally curious about who we work with, so including photos of other employees is a great way to grab your reader’s attention (always try to mention employees by name)
- If you get loads of photos, use Poppulo’s Image Gallery to make it easy to scroll between them and to reduce web page loading times
Tweak images to suit your channels
Once you’ve got your images, resize them so that they’re fit for use on your channel (for instance, using images wider than 650 pixels in Poppulo will stretch your template). Tools like Photoshop and Paint are great, but there’s also free online tools that you can use.
- GIMP is a downloadable tool for photo retouching and image resizing
- Picresize allows you to easily crop, resize and edit images online for free
Finally, always use Alt Text for images
- Alternative text displays instead of the image if images are disabled on a particular browser or within an employee’s inbox
- They’re also helpful for people using assistive screen readers, boosting the accessibility of your communications
- It’s important to note that if you don’t add Alt Text to an image, it will automatically display the file name. So if you’re not going to use it, make sure you pay attention to the names you give your files!
The sites and tools listed above will provide all the resources you need to build a great bank of images that you can use across your internal communications. Your audience will be far more likely to read your communications, and you’ll have a better chance of getting your message across.
If you are a Poppulo customer and would like to know more about uploading images to your media library, visit the Knowledge Base here.