Publishing original content online can be a great way to humanise your organisation, or in the case of individuals, making your personal brand feel more accessible to the public. This is a critical aspect of building trust and reputation in today’s digital-first world.
Of the many publishing mediums available to us, video is perhaps the most effective in this regard because it helps people ‘see the whites of your eyes’.
It’s an emotive medium, and done right can help build connection with viewers which, in turn, enhances people’s trust in a brand.
Years ago, video was not only expensive to produce but also difficult to get it in front of a large audience without paying to do so.
Today, however, it’s a whole other story. We can produce and publish video content on the web for nothing simply using an iPad or smartphone device, or pay someone with basic equipment to get the job done for a skerrick of what it used to cost to produce a simple video. And we can publish it to the web in no time!
When it comes to content marketing for PR, there is video, and there's video...
The days of frivolously spending big dollars on producing high-end corporate videos - once the norm for in-house PR departments - are coming to an end as budgets tighten and technology becomes simpler, cheaper and easier to use.
There will always be exceptions, of course, when having a well-produced highly-polished video is desirable for a business, government agency or nonprofit organisation. For example:
- Signature video on your website that tells the story of your brand and explains what your business is about
- Introductory video to be used for a capital-raising roadshow
- Campaign launch video at trade presentations
- Positioning statement video at annual shareholders' meetings or employee events
But if you insist on every video you produce being of the highest quality, with multiple camera angles and slickly edited to the point it feels like something out of Hollywood, your output no doubt will be stunted by time and budget restrictions that affect pretty much all of us.
Also worth noting: Just because you pay through the nose doesn’t mean you are in any way guaranteed to get additional value for your efforts in terms of increased video views online.
According to Digiday, The Guardian is finding when it comes to Instagram Stories, less is more — at least when it comes to how polished videos are.
Jessica Davies, of Digiday, writes: “ … the Guardian started tracking and analyzing its Instagram audience data on a more granular basis, to test what formats and topics it should develop and evolve and what should be scrapped. The upshot: video drives more new followers than static posts, but time and resources spent on creating polished Instagram videos, specifically for Stories, simply aren’t worth the pay-off.”
After crunching data, Davies wrote, The Guardian found that heavily produced videos with scripts and shot in a studio and professionally edited were simply not worth the effort. For example, short video series in which a Guardian presenter gave daily updates on gender pay gap-related news.
The Guardian has instead focused on less labour-intensive posts - static graphics or quick video explainers on news topics - that have proved more popular.
Using video for PR purposes
There are many ways in which a business, organisation or individual can use video content to help build brand recognition and reputation. Here are a few:
1. COMMENTARY ON TOPICAL ISSUES & TRENDS
Generally done as a solo 'straight to camera' riff on a particular topic or issue, commentary videos can be a great way for subject matter experts and business and community leaders to raise their profile and establish their professional bona fides via social media.
2. VIEWER EDUCATION
Educating viewers by freely sharing your knowledge, insights and experience is a powerful way to build trust and reputation for your business and/or personal brand.
3. VIEWER QUESTION & ANSWER
Still, in the educational vein but with an interactive twist, viewer Q&A videos can be very powerful because they focus 100 per cent on the audience and their queries, needs and pain-points.
I'm a huge believer in the power of taking people ‘beyond the velvet rope’ of your business or organisation, and video is the best way to do this. Behind-the-scenes video, especially when it's unscripted and a bit on the raw side versus being overly polished and edited, is a great way to connect with your audience, show them the faces of people behind your organisation or, if you're an individual, a glimpse into how you go about your business day-to-day.
5. CUSTOMER/PARTNER STORIES
Telling the stories of your customers and commercial partners is a terrific way to build a sense of connection with consumers. Please note, I’m talking real stories here, not just straight testimonials from satisfied customers.
6. PRODUCT DEMOS
Show, don’t tell, is a powerful proposition. So many businesses spend way too much time telling us how great their products are. In all likelihood, we don’t believe them. However, provide us with some proof and let us make our own mind up - now you’re talking!
7. EXPERT INTERVIEWS & ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSIONS
Interviews with leaders and subject matter experts can be a powerful way to build credibility for an organisation, especially if the person being interviewed is a resident specialist on a particular topic relevant to your business.
8. PRESENTATIONS & EVENTS
If your company or organisation puts on events for the public and/or customers, it can be a great idea to capture it on video and edit later for various uses.
No one size fits all
The key to using video for PR today is to be open-minded. Sometimes it might be advisable to up the budget and produce a quality video designed to make an impact, but there might also be times when a ‘quick and dirty’ iPhone production will suffice if it's just being used for social media.
For comms professionals, it’s about understanding the full gamut of video options available for the various situations you might find yourself in.
But one thing is for sure: video ain’t going away any time soon, which means PR pros need to embrace the format with enthusiasm and start sharpening their production skills.