The world complained of infographic fatigue two years ago.

Yet, infographics continue to be a mainstay of visual storytelling. Fresh infographics – when I say “fresh,” I mean a narrative that’s easy on the eyes, entertaining, and delivers a surprise – still generate attention. When we look across our client blogs, the posts with infographics inevitably score well in the popularity index called Google Analytics.

That’s the good news.

On the not-so-good side, the popularity of infographics has resulted in some visuals that can only be described as dreadful (to be kind). The infographic platform by itself doesn’t automatically serve the target audience. You still need to deliver information that has relevance to the reader and offers something that they will care about.

Contrary to popular myth, you can create a compelling infographic without charts, graphs or a stack of coffee cups representing Brazil’s GDP. This is a critical point for PR professionals who are grounded in words, not data or design.

As shared in previous posts, levity can be the killer app in business communications, and this especially holds true with infographics where words and visuals can play off of each other. If you can bring a fresh wrinkle or a twist that prompts a smile – “funny” or “humorous” carry a much higher bar which is why I use “levity” – you’ll extend the reach of the infographic.

Vanity Fair published a terrific infographic last year that parodied the TED talks, showing how words can “drive” an infographic. Our own infographic called “Storytelling vs Corporate Speak” offers an example of how words can totally carry an infographic. This one got a ton of traction including distribution on Holy Kaw.

One final example –

HubSpot recently published an infographic called, “The Anatomy of a Shareable Infographic” that outlines pragmatic tips for extending the reach of this type of content. Again, we find words dominating the narrative.

I’ve always thought a potential Holy Grail for infographics would be embedding a hyperlink into the JPEG. This way, even if someone “borrowed” the infographic without proper attribution, you would always have the hyperlink point toward the original source (natural link-building).

The HubSpot post highlighted a tool called ThingLink which allows for another layer of content including hyperlinks to be added to the infographic. While this has promise, all “shares” – including the embed code – go back to the ThinkLink platform, which torpedoes natural link-building.

Of course, the best marketing for an infographic lies in whether the storytelling is strong enough to stop the reader.

Note: PR Newswire published a post earlier this month on extending the reach of infographics which adds to this discussion.