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Wedding PR: Keeping the Peace with Styled Shoots

It’s widely known that inspiration shoots can be a powerful marketing tool to draw interested prospects to your business. The highly-curated aesthetic is seemingly organized and picture-perfect. However, styled shoots aren’t always as smooth behind the scenes.

While a wonderful opportunity, collective styled shoots can quickly cause discord among creative partners when things start to go awry. Since they require a high investment of time and resources from everyone involved, it’s nearly inevitable that stress will run high if results don’t follow.

Here are a few ways to avoid unnecessary pressure and navigate inspiration shoots with grace.

Work with the right people

While potential clients only see the end result, you are the one who has to work with the other creatives involved. Be sure about your choices. Just because someone does beautiful work does not mean they are the right collaborator for your endeavor. If you are interested in bringing in someone new, have an honest conversation about the investment and make sure they have time to commit to the project. Discuss media expectations as well, since you’ll want to keep their perceived ROI in check.

Get a feel for their past experience with styled shoots, asking trusted industry peers for their input as well. Look at their reviews from clients. Does it seem like they are easy to work with? You’ll also want to check their social media to see how often they post and how they credit collaborators.

Set your boundaries

As the organizer, you need to set ground rules from the beginning to ensure everyone goes in with the same expectations. Share details about when photos will be received, and be specific about usage terms. You may want to limit photo sharing to those that won’t be included in the submission, or you might allow free use but only after it’s published in the media. For sneak peeks, consider allocating three professional images for people to share.

Explain how the media choice will be chosen and how creative partners will be credited, then confirm who will handle the final submission. You need to set realistic expectations, too. Don’t promise media placements, even if an editor has expressed an interest.

Create accountability

A styled shoot is no time for a creative partner to go back on their part of the work. Have everyone sign a formal agreement on paper to ensure everyone adheres to the guidelines for the actual shoot, as well as the post-shoot rules and expectations.

It also helps to organize a shared Google Spreadsheet with everyone’s contact information and social media handles. Provide a pre-written copy (with credits) for people to use as they see fit. Not only does this take the heavy work off of their plate, but it ensures consistency across the board. There are no excuses when it’s all laid out.

The biggest breakdown I typically see with styled shoots is a lack of communication. Fortunately, that’s an easy problem to fix. Make it a priority to touch base with the team regularly before, during, and after the shoot. Keep it simple. Covering every little detail can open you up to unwanted opinions, so provide the basics and update as needed.

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Meghan Ely

President, OFD Consulting, Richmond, VA

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast. 

Photo: Melody Smith Portraits