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A picture’s worth…

… a thousand words. One good example of the enduring power of the still photograph emerged from last week’s D-Day commemorations.

By James Evelegh

A picture’s worth…

Did you watch the D-Day commemorations last week?

For some reason, previous D-Day anniversaries seemed to have largely passed me by, but holed up with covid with lots of time to watch TV, I found myself watching most of the 80th anniversary events and it was incredibly moving.

I find it almost impossible to imagine what it must have been like jumping off a landing craft under heavy fire, knowing that there was a high chance you wouldn’t survive the coming hours.

These events, along with other key dates from the first and second world wars help remind us of the awfulness of war and why we must guard against threats to peace.

As you know, the prime minister decided to leave the commemorations early. When I first heard that, my initial reaction was slight indifference. Was it really such a big deal?

Then I saw the picture.

US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and… British Foreign Secretary David Cameron.

The picture perfectly conveyed the scale of the PR blunder. No words were needed.

For what it’s worth, I don’t for a second think that Sunak meant any disrespect. He’s a busy man, under intense time pressure, and thought by showing his face at the earlier British ceremony at Ver-sur-Mer, he was effectively ticking the ‘D-Day’ box. It was then safe to move onto other things.

But, in terms of news and media management, the fact that no one in his team saw this PR disaster hurtling down the tracks towards them is remarkable. A massive and avoidable own-goal.

When the dust settles on this election, it’s quite likely that this moment, and that picture, will loom large.

For more on the power of the picture, check out two previous articles we’ve run in InPublishing: Power of the Still Picture, by Peter Jackson and Picture Power, by Peter Sands. Both worth a read.

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You can catch James Evelegh’s regular column in the InPubWeekly newsletter, which you can register to receive here.