Leave Room For White Space

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November 12, 2015 by Kathryn Kuttis

Leave Room For White Space

Art is a great way to see and appreciate white space. We talk about negative space in our strategic writing class as a critical communication tool for writers and designers.

The eye likes to rest. The brain needs to process.

If a story is thought out and told with clarity their is time to pause. It can be hard to follow someone when they are speaking off the cuff. They have the curse of knowledge, meaning they know more about the topic than the listener. A good storyteller knows to slow down and think about what the audience knows before they start talking. They consider the setup to ensure that the listener will hear their message. That almost always requires white space.

Public speakers know the power of a well-timed pause. It gives listeners time to catch up with what was said. More importantly, it puts the speaker in the driver’s seat. The pause invites the audience to lean in and really focus on what’s next.

This is true in visual design as well. If an infographic is crowded with text or images that are too close together on the page it’s confusing to the eye. A good visual story will use size, balance and white space to tell the story. Usually the largest thing on the page is the most important. The white space between images allows the viewer to consider the relationship that exists between those ideas. Sometimes what you don’t say or show helps the audience understand the story.

Good luck to the storytellers working to finalize their J452 infographic assignments tonight. I actually won’t be in my office this weekend, so you can slide your printed document under my door anytime before Monday. That will give you plenty of time to create some more white space for your visual story.

Here are this week’s blog kernels:

Can You Lose Weight With an App?(Newsweek) How helpful are apps when it comes to weight loss and fitness? Is it communication that makes them effective?

Dizzying Ride May Be Ending for Start-Ups (NYTs) How could communications help reverse the confidence slide for tech start ups? Can it be reversed? Who’s quoted in the article?

Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid: How the New Class Ruled Backstage at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show (VanityFair) What makes this show so successful? How does it reflect the brand? What the new generation doing differently?

Cities, States Turn To Emergency Declarations To Tackle Homeless Crisis (HuffPost) As cities face an increasing number of homeless, how can they get people to come together to provide resources?

Why Missouri’s Football Team Joined A Protest Against School Administration (si.com) How did their response to the protest impact the school’s brand? What are other football programs thinking about this week’s news?

SeaWorld announces the end of orca shows after criticism (PR Daily) Is it possible that a documentary film like Blackfish brought about real change? How did social media help to bring an end to their orca shows?

America’s days of unregulated fantasy sports may soon be over (Economist) What are the major differences between the way this story was covered by the British press and how it was covered in the US?

Customers Return to Chipotle Restaurants After E. Coli Outbreak (Time) Who’s talking gin this article and what are they saying. How does a company position itself after a crisis?

How Instagram Solved Its Justin Bieber Problem (Wired) An inside look into the celebrity traffic seen on Instagram. How does this article help Instagram? The why did they give the interview? What do they want readers to know about them?

Thousands march in L.A. as part of nationwide call to raise minimum wage (LATimes) How are supporters building momentum for this campaign? What are politicians saying in response to the demand for an increase in minimum wage?

Starbucks Offers All Veteran Employees Free College For Their Spouse Or Child (Forbes) Why would a company make this kind of offer? How does it reflect on their brand?


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If you share an interest in public relations, media and visual design, this might be a good place for you to hang out. I started this blog to exchange ideas with my students at the University of Oregon. They keep me (and maybe you too) at the forefront of social media, visual communication and career development. Here you'll find our best ideas, links and learning as we write, create and blog our way through a course on Strategic PR Communication.

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