A Place in the Sun: Discovering Video Tips in Your Summer Reading List

June 3, 2019

[ikon images]
[ikon images]

Summer has so many possibilities. For many of us, it’s a chance to relax and refresh. For others, it’s the season to refocus on New Year’s goals gone awry.

Like many of you, I use summer to catch up on books I should have read earlier in the year. In reviewing my reading list, I’ve found plenty of advice that applies to a common problem for PR pros: video. Promising to pursue a video strategy can be another New Year’s resolution long forgotten, next to our yoga mats and vegan cookbooks.

To kick-start your video strategy and make it more accessible for brands in the second half of this year, here are some quotes from books I hope you will read:


1. “Accept the brutal truth.” — Jim Collins, from “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t”

According to various studies, just 2-6 percent of your Facebook fans — the people who have told Facebook they’re interested in your content — actually see your posts. But when repurposed with video, your content will be seen by an average of 8-11 percent of your Facebook followers. The number climbs even higher when you upload the video directly to Facebook.

According to the networking-hardware company Cisco Systems, online video will account for more than 80 percent of all internet traffic by 2022. The truth may be brutal, but to remain relevant the PR profession must accept that video has moved from nice to necessary.


2. “Focus on what a guy can do, not what he can’t do.”— Mike Lombardi, from “Gridiron Genius: A Master Class in Winning Championships and Building Dynasties in the NFL”

When he evaluates players for the NFL Draft or free agency, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick assesses abilities, not negatives. He determines whether there’s a fit in the Patriots’ system, and then reacts accordingly.

The same principles apply to developing sound video strategies. Too often we think video must feature someone in the C-suite or a former TV anchor who’s switched to public relations. And if we don’t have those people, we don’t pursue video. This approach won’t cut it in 2019.

If your receptionist has a great personality, loves talking with people and is willing to take on new tasks, then he or she can appear on camera. Every business and brand has a gifted conversationalist. Put the square peg in the square space, regardless of the person’s title.

The middle point of Belichick’s plan involves knowing your system. Brands that try to develop multimedia content without understanding themselves or their customers will end up like most of the teams that have faced the Patriots over the last 20 years — confused, frustrated and behind. Strategy should drive tactics, not the other way around. 


3. “Talents and skills… can’t grow in the dark." — Rachel Hollis, from “Girl, Stop Apologizing”

Good video is like good writing; it’s never perfect. But too often, a single pre-produced video gets micromanaged and overanalyzed into the ground. When you create change — and I believe video is bringing a fundamental change to our industry — use the theory that we all learned in school: Build incrementally from your small wins.

Live video provides easy victories, and its metrics are brand-friendly. A study from Socialbakers, a social media marketing company, found that live video performs better than other kinds of video. People also spend more time watching live video, according to research conducted by SproutSocial, a company that makes software to manage social media. This puts brands in a place to have measured success.

With video, there’s more room for imperfection that allows growth. One of the biggest lessons I learned from improv-comedy training was the importance of listening. When a performer listens to audience suggestions and the cast, and then gives the performance everything they’ve got, people want to see the performer succeed.

These same themes apply to live video. When you take comments, it creates relationships and buy-in. People are then more apt to forgive lighting or audio imperfections in the video. When you get measured results, you want to keep moving forward.


4. “Hulk smash!” “Avengers: Endgame”

Eventually we put down our book, grab a popcorn bucket the size of our head, and watch a movie. “Avengers: Endgame” reminds us to smash one of the biggest misconceptions about modern video — that segments have to be short. They don’t. What matters is pace.

The movie “Avengers: Endgame,” which is more than three hours long, took in $1.2 billion during its opening weekend in April. By comparison, the 2011 comedy “Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star” is 97 minutes long and has one of the lowest scores in the history of the rating website Rotten Tomatoes.

We can’t see increased reader demand and higher SEO value for long-form storytelling and pretend it only applies to words. Try to be concise and thorough.


5. “You may have been born with certain constraints, but you can change those constraints, allowing yourself to improve and grow.” — Benjamin Hardy, from “Willpower Doesn’t Work: Discover the Hidden Keys to Success”

Even when you follow all of these guidelines, viewers might still click away from your video within five to 10 seconds. But this constraint doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. When you create content with an upfront call to action or brand mention, you still build a degree of awareness, however brief it may be.

Hardy’s thoughts about overcoming constraints also mirror the advice I give brands: Don’t worry about budget or resources. To avoid losing sight of the larger goal with video, don’t get bogged down in choosing among dozens of different options for cameras, tripods, microphones, etc.

The goal is to connect with your audience in a meaningful way. All the data suggest that video, whether it’s perfect or imperfect, helps make that connection. Your video strategy, like every other strategy you’ve delivered, needs room to adapt and grow over time. But first it has to get started.

The PR profession needs to grow. Video is the best path to PR growth for your brand, your clients and your constituents. And unlike our brief summers, the possibilities for PR growth through video are endless.

3 Video Production Tips

  1. Edit every 3-7 seconds to keep the eye engaged.
  2. Shot variation (wide, medium, tight) accelerates pace.
  3. Incorporate text into video to help people with muted speakers.
Daniel Farkas, MBA

Daniel Farkas, MBA, is a lecturer of strategic communication at The Ohio State University. His work as a journalist and strategic communicator has earned him more than two dozen awards. Reach him at farkas.88@osu.edu.


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