Create your own video to advance your company’s reputation

June 4, 2010

An important opportunity lies in the midst of the PR anxiety over the apparent decline of mainstream media. It is a chance to take advantage of a social media channel’s convergence and mainstream media technologies.

For several years, I’ve heard PR practitioners complain that no matter how large their client is, no matter how significant the event is that they are organizing, they simply can’t get the attention of the local television news.

Unfortunately, local TV news shows no longer have the resources to cover anything but crime, accidents or government events. Their reporting resources are exhausted. I have a friend in Detroit who tells me that one local news station makes its legal reporter — a local attorney — double as the weekend field reporter.

Even in more prosperous times, local news operations almost never featured community activities by companies or nonprofit organizations. No matter how many people attend the event or how much money is donated, only the participants know anything about these events when they take place.

Helping our clients to act as the media and produce their own news video content can have a significant effect on visibility. It’s a way for their constituencies to learn about their activities, thought leadership and expertise.

We actually go to the events with our video gear, interview the participants, shoot B-roll and do the stand-ups. We package everything into a five-to-seven-minute video wrapper and post it to the Web, RSS feeds and iTunes.  These reports, similar to the much-maligned video news releases, garner hundreds or even thousands of views on the Web, and they are available at the viewer’s convenience. They also provide clients a crucial input for the increasingly valuable search rankings.

Understanding new search realities
People don’t go to the Yellow Pages to find the services they need; they generally don’t even go to a firms’s website.

Increasingly, the first stop is Google. Firms that understand this reality make sure they appear at the top of the search results. If you can create compelling rich media content like video and audio programming, you will be ranked higher by the search engine.

Look at the top 100 podcasts listed in iTunes, and you’ll find that most of them are professionally produced by major names in traditional broadcast media. People want great content produced with broadcast quality by trusted brands.

 While many companies still think that they will grow new customers and clients by putting ads in newspapers, many people under 35 don’t read a daily newspaper, as several surveys have shown.

In addition, a significant percentage of this demographic only watches broadcast television by time-shifting technology (Tivo and DVR) and skipping over commercials.

Reaching the customers
Our firm works as a strategic partner with Success Communications of Parsippany on Wal-Mart stores. We started creating news videos from Wal-Mart’s New Jersey store openings and community activities in late 2008.

At first, I got a lot of phone calls at my office from people trying to reach the new stores. I was puzzled, but then I realized it was because I was still thinking like a PR person and including my contact information in the captions and metadata so media could contact me for more details.

That information was showing up in consumer-driven Google searches for the store locations.  When we added the store addresses and phone number to subsequent video captions, the calls to my office stopped. It demonstrates that the goal of online media is not to reach the mainstream media, but to reach the customers with useful information.

Companies that understand they have to be the media instead of waiting for the media to come to them will be the winners moving forward.

Lights, camera, action

Here are five things that you need to know about producing your own video:

  • Choose a video camera with some professional, or at least pro-sumer features. It should have a microphone input jack so you can plug in an external microphone. If you can afford it, then look at external mixers that plug into the camera and provide professional XLR three-pin connectors so you can plug into “house sound” for a seminar recording. People will forgive video quality if the audio is good.
  • Use a tripod. No one, no matter how steady your nerves are, can hold a handheld camera steady for more than five or six minutes.  A seminar panel shot with a handheld camera is going to be painful to watch.
  • Learn how to use editing software. Macs all come with iMovie basic editing software. On the Windows platform, there is a wide variety of reasonably priced editing software. Use something to edit your video. At the very least, put a title on the front of it, and learn how to create “lower-thirds,” the graphic titles that the pros use to identify the talking heads in the scene.
Steve Lubetkin, APR, Fellow PRSA
Steve Lubetkin, APR, Fellow PRSA, is a former member of the PRSA National Board of Directors (2001-2003). His first book, “The Business of Podcasting: How to Take Your Podcasting Passion from the Personal to the Professional,” co-authored with Toronto-based podcasting pioneer Donna Papacosta, is out in paperback and as an e-book on the Amazon Kindle.


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