Content Marketing for PR: Reframing the way we think about video

The advent of content marketing has forced us all to rethink how we connect and communicate with the people who matter most to the success of our business, cause or issue.

Likewise, within the broader realm of content marketing, with video fast becoming a favoured medium through which to tell our stories and build credibility for our brand, we also need to be re-thinking how we harness its power as a communications tool.

But to get the most out of video, we need to first get over the perceived hurdle that creating video content is expensive. It can be, for sure, but more often than not, producing video need not break the bank.

Plus, we also need to get out of our heads the notion that video needs to be beautifully produced to be effective.

Let’s unpack these together, as the latter will have an impact on the former.

Video can cost a lot, yes, if your planned shoot is quite complex and you’re after high production values.

A number of variables can influence the budget: how long the video will be, the number of locations and scenes required, the quality of equipment to be used, the amount of pre-production required, how many people will be needed on-set to make it happen; are you bringing in talent (actors) for the shoot? Will you be needing hair/make-up, catering etc? And that’s before you factor in the editing process and all that comes with it e.g. stock footage, music etc.

So you can see, the costs can add up pretty quickly.

But really, how often do you need to create a super-slick, highly-produced video?

The days of lashing out big dollars on 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 high production video is desirable for a business, government agency or nonprofit organisation. For example:

  • signature video on your website that tells your brand story and explains what your business is all about (a couple of good examples below – mattress retailer Tuft & Needle, and Melbourne executive recruitment firm, Hope & Glory).
  • 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 with all the bells and whistles – especially if it’s destined to largely be used on your social channels – there’s every chance you won’t get optimum results from the medium because your output will be stunted by time and budget restrictions that affect pretty much all of us.

It’s important to remember that just because you pay for better production doesn’t mean you are in any way guaranteed to get additional value for your efforts in terms of increased views online or impact on the viewer. People by and large don’t care. Seriously, as long as the content is good and they can hear the audio clearly and make out who’s in the video, then all’s right with the world.

I’ve seen this countless times with major brands where their big budget videos languish in the viewing stakes compared to low or no budget videos( best described as ‘authentic’!). Food for thought!

Now, you’re probably thinking to yourself: Hey, we have a professional reputation to uphold. We can’t be putting out crappy cheap ass videos.

Yep, fair call. I understand. As I said, there will always be exceptions. For example, luxury fashion and lifestyle brands such as TAG Heuer, Rolex, Ralph Lauren, Burberry and the like are where they are today because they sell ‘the dream’. To put out anything that’s cheap-looking would be counter to the image they are trying to project.

And of course, a major brand might produce a cinematic mini-masterpiece as part of a bigger marketing play. Examples of this type of branded entertainment content include:

  • BMW’s ‘The Hire’ – a series of eight short films featuring Clive Owen and highlighting performance aspects of various BMW vehicles (since removed from YouTube) 
  • Marriott Hotels’ package of short films produced by, including ‘Two Bellmen’ and ‘Two Bellmen 2’, which were set in Los Angeles and Dubai respectively. 

Then you have the Red Bulls of the world that have taken branded content to a whole new level, having produced a staggering body of work over the years, with an initial focus on crazy action sports clips.  Let’s face it, Red Bull is more a media company than an energy drink brand these days anyway. 

PLEASE NOTE: You are not Red Bull. Nor are you BMW, and probably not Marriott Hotels either. 

Some massive global consumer brands have mouth-watering budgets and well-established ad agencies capable of producing ‘hero’ video content on a grand scale. And anyway, in many cases, these are nothing more than ads dressed up as ‘content marketing’.  

There’s definitely room for high-end branded video content in marketing today, but it’s not something I would bundle under the ‘content marketing for PR’ banner, and so I won’t dwell on it here. In the overall scheme of things, while some of this big brand video content might be high profile, it’s just a sliver of total online video output on the web today.

What constitutes video when we’re talking content marketing for PR?

LONG-FORM – Google describes long-form as video that’s longer than 10 minutes. Usually it’s hosted on YouTube or Vimeo, and often embedded on a website or blog. More recently, Instagram has launched IGTV, a standalone vertical video app that allows users to post videos up to one hour in length. The Goulet Pen Company’s weekly Q&A videos are a great example of useful and helpful long-form video content. Ditto Dr Sandra Lee aka Dr Pimple Popper, who has generated over 2.5 billion views of her short and long-form videos (WARNING: Lee’s videos are a bit on the gross side, so avoid if you get squeamish!).

SHORT-FORM – This is video that’s between two and 10 minutes in length, again, housed on YouTube or Vimeo and potentially also embedded on a website or blog, but also increasingly found on Facebook or LinkedIn.  Eddie ‘Mr WooTube’ Woo is someone who leverages the power of short-form video exceptionally well, notching up over 24 million views on YouTube, which no doubt helped him land a book deal with major publisher, Pan Macmillan..

MICRO – Video that clocks in at two minutes and under. This is the province of social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter (its upload limit is 140 seconds), Instagram and Snapchat (60-second limit) and LinkedIn. The Vine camera app is great if you want to shoot 6-second videos for Twitter. New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, is a great example of a leader who uses short-form and micro video via social media to communicate directly with constituents (check out Ardern’s Facebook Page for more).

LIVE – Growing in popularity is live streaming via a number of platforms. Some video live-streaming apps have come and gone (Meerkat anyone?), but the mainstays are as you would expect: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. Current technology – for example, Google’s Hangouts On Air – allows live video streaming in solo presentation or panel format. Below is an example of live video in action, courtesy of Adafruit Industries, an electronics hardware business based in New York City which conducts regular Show and Tell live-streams.

Your own media channel

Today, it doesn’t matter if you’re a massive organisation or simply a one-person show. Technology has flattened the playing field, allowing literally anyone to become their own media channel and incorporate the power of video in their marketing and communications.

Yes, it takes some creativity and skills that can be accumulated over the journey, but more importantly, at the end of the day it’s all about the actual content. In other words, is your content compelling enough to attract viewers? Are you delivering sufficient value to keep people hooked? Are the people who feature in your videos genuinely interesting? Do they project their personality? Do they come across as genuine and sincere?

Of course it takes a bit if effort to get the most out of video content, I’m not denying that, but there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that publishing video online, even if it’s a bit rough around the edges, can help raise visibility, influence and trust for business, personal and non-profit brands.

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Here at Digital Citizen we produce video as part of our clients’ broader content marketing efforts, from budget video shot on iPad specifically for social channels, through to signature videos requiring higher production values. Like to know more? You can contact us here.  

THANK YOU FOR SHARING 🙂

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