Five Tips to Win Over the Wire Service With Your Photo

As a professional photographer, Greg Cooper has chronicled news stories and documented many momentous sports occasions, including: Stanley Cup championships; World Series finals; NCAA regionals; and numerous Boston Marathons. He has shot for many top national and regional media outlets including USA Today, Boston Globe, AP, Reuters and EPA.

His journalistic expertise is an asset for corporate clients who often rely on him to find and create the most newsworthy shots.  Here are five tips he shared for improving chances of getting your picture published with wire services and other outlets.  Wire services refer to these as “handouts.”


It’s true that timing is almost everything.  If it’s slow news day your chances are greater but, sometimes it’s out of your control when a major news event steals the limelight.  However, it is still crucial to research and avoid competing with a major planned event.  Also, adhere to the outlet’s schedule.  For example, USA Today prints one weekend edition to cover Friday through Sunday. So, if you want to be considered for placement in that edition, you must provide photography by Thursday.


Provide the wire service or daily media outlet with a media advisory or press releases a day in advance so they can line it up 24 hours before.  Then, when you call the day of the event, chances are they will already be aware of it.


Wire desks have become very saavy in terms of deciphering true news verses a pr pitch so make sure it is newsworthy.  Also, branding in your image must be very subtle.  For example, for a ground breaking, include a building with the company name in the background rather than a big banner or emblazoned tee shirt front and center.


If there are other guests in the photo make sure they are comfortable with the branding, since they may not be able to give a hint of endorsing a company or product.  And, if you are also using the images for social media, take care to either have releases for any participant to sign or a sign that informs people of how the photos will be used (e.g.  Social Media). SM can present a grey area between editorial and advertorial so it is important to protect yourself and your audience.


The AP Stylebook is pretty particular about their format but most other wire services, although possibly different, will usually accept the AP Style as long as all the facts are included. According to AP, the following information should be listed in numerical order in one sentence that wraps to the next, if necessary:

  1. Who’s in the photo from left to right
  2. What’s going on in the photo, literally, and wording should always be in the present tense
  3. City and state of the event/where picture is taken
  4. Attribution: Or as AP says “Action not seen.” This is background information related to the picture — the “why” of the picture For example # 2 might say “Fire Captain John Smith in front the Arco Building.”  #4, the attribution, might be “Two people died in the fire.”
  5. Day of week, and date: e.g.  Wednesday, March 25, 2015.  But if the event happened more than two weeks ago you don’t have to list the day of the week.

The second sentence should say why photo is important.

Here’s an example of an AP caption:

Vibram and Quabaug Announce Military Footwear Opportunity

Kevin Donahue, Quabaug CEO (left), describes the features of Vibram military boot soles to Congressman Jim McGovern at the Quabaug Factory in North Brookfield, Massachusetts, USA, on May 16, 2014.  Along with celebrating a 50 year sole making partnership between Vibram and Quabaug, the companies announced a recent DoD ruling mandating that first year recruits choose domestically manufactured athletic trainers; as well as a 1.2 million joint investment in innovation.  (Photo By: Greg M. Cooper / Vibram Quabaug)

You can buy the latest AP Stylebook here:

Of course for social media the above AP Style might very well not apply, especially if you already have introductory summaries on your SM pages.

“A picture says a thousand words.”  Hopefully these tips will make your handout a standout.

For more about Greg’s photography services contact him at 617-593-6800 or  Contact Tommasi PR at 603-893-5878 or visit


One Response to “Five Tips to Win Over the Wire Service With Your Photo”

  1. Amy Moore says:

    Great piece, Anne. You still do great work!

Leave a Reply