Is a picture really worth a thousand words?

Once upon a time…seriously, it seems like a lifetime ago…I used to travel around sharing my perspective on business messaging: shaping and sharing stories that engaged readers and made them want to know more. After one such presentation to a group very familiar with professional copywriting, someone asked if I agreed with the old adage, “A picture’s worth a thousand words.”

As a copywriter, people expect me to say “No.” Like BIll Gates said, “Content is king.” But I do believe there is some truth to the long-held picture-to-words conversion factor. Images can deliver powerful messages, create strong emotions, and compel people to action.  They can.  Without a caption of some kind to provide context, however, can you be sure that everyone viewing the image is “seeing” the same thing? Or does a wordless image leave too much room for interpretation that could lead to a response other than what the artist or advertiser wants?

I paused for a moment, and responded to the question this way.

“If a picture’s worth a thousand words, a picture with the perfect caption is priceless!”

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