Talking video live streaming and digital news content with Danny Matthews, Dial M for Media

In this second episode of the new season of The PR Warrior Show, I chat with Dial M for Media‘s Danny Matthews about live video streaming and digital news content.

Live streaming still has a long way to go. It obviously scares a lot of brands and business leaders who would prefer to produce videos that are highly polished and edited within an inch of their life.

“Control” is the key here. Many leaders want to ensure their performance is 100% perfect. Is it ego? Who knows.

What I do know is that they’re missing a great opportunity to connect with the people who matter most to the success of their business, cause or issue.

Live streaming and unscripted in-the-moment videos that take people behind the scenes of an organisation can be quite effective. Oftentimes it can be raw, even chaotic. But that’s part of the charm. When we see a CEO on a video live stream stumble over her words and laugh it off, this builds connection. We can relate to her because we’ve all been there at one point or another.

For a great example of a leader who understands the power of authenticity that comes with live video, look no further than New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern. CHECK OUT HER FACEBOOK VIDEOS.

Do I believe every video should be a live stream? Absolutely not.

I merely contend that live streaming is a powerful format to have tucked away in your content marketing toolkit to be used when it makes sense to do so, especially from a professional personal branding perspective.

Live streaming is available on most key social media channels, including Twitter, Facebook and more lately, LinkedIn. It’s not going away, and I think that those businesses, leaders and professional experts that embrace the medium will reap the rewards.


Following is a transcript of our conversation:

Trevor Young: I’m here with Danny Matthews from Dial M For Media here in Melbourne, and we’re going to talk all things live streaming digital news content. It’s all happening. I’ve used Danny for a number of years now and we’ve done a lot of video shooting off iPhones and iPads. And being agile and getting it done and shooting a lot in one morning, or one hit, and then being able to utilise that content over a period of time. Danny, why don’t you give us a little bit of background, what you do, where you’ve come from, what you’re doing, and what you’re doing now? Because the live streaming thing is something I want to get right into, as well.

Danny Matthews: You didn’t tell me we’re doing video today, I would’ve got a haircut and dressed better and all that sort of stuff.

Trevor: Yeah, well, I got a haircut for it.

Danny: Yes. Well, Dial M For Media. I come from a traditional media background, radio and television. And when the world started to change, which was very much came at a time when I was looking for jobs and I just noticed how the cost-cutting and everything that was there, not that necessarily everything had to be cheap, but just the way things were changing with the mobile devices, with what they could do. It’s just that how that could be converted to just rather than what people are doing with shaking hands on the phones and doing a lot of amateur stuff, what the new world technology could do for proper creation of content. Be it packaged or be it live. So, that’s very much the track that I’m on now.

Trevor: And when you say that, I mean at this particular time newsrooms were starting to shrink, but they still needed to fill the airwaves. They still needed news and content and stuff like that. So it’s a matter of is there a better way to do it, but also a way to get it done more quickly because it had to go up online now a lot quicker. So speed was of the essence and obviously the old newsroom way – you send out the camera crew and they still do that of course. But the online side of things makes it a little bit difficult for them, doesn’t it?

Danny: Yeah, it does. Also, the speed, there is some arguments that some marketing or production companies put out that doing something quickly isn’t good. But if you know what you’re doing, you can do something and turn it around very, very quickly in the right hands. And it’s very, very effective.

Trevor: Yep.

Danny: And some people don’t even know the difference.

Trevor: That’s what we talk about quite a bit on the podcasts and on the blog and everything, is that there are times when you do need a schmick signature video. But if you’re going to wait and do a schmick video every time with the huge budgets, A) it’ll never get done and B), you’ll never get it done in time. There’s room for the quick and dirty, there’s room for the professional quick and dirty, and then there’s room for the longer form, more highly produced and just to box everything into one or the other is probably not right today.

So let’s move towards the streaming side of things first … you’ve been one of the early ones that I know in Australia that’s grasped streaming from a perspective “I’ll come in and produce it for you”.

Most of the streaming that I’ve seen being done is people literally live streaming on Facebook with their phone and that serves a purpose. But with companies and brands, they need to go up that next level. They don’t want to be sitting there touching phones and working it out. And we’ve done a couple of jobs together. But why don’t you walk us through how you can do it, because your set up as you’ve got it – up to three to four cameras, different angles, switching between them. Walk us through how it works because streaming used to cost so much to do. I did streaming once and it was probably about 25 to 30 grand just to do it for one event. And now with the tools at our disposal, we can do it a lot more cost-effectively. So walk us through that. How does the streaming work, the equipment that you use, all of that sort of stuff?

The above video is an example of a live stream broadcast on Facebook:
OpenCorp Live Q&A Show - produced by Digital Citizen & Danny Matthews

Danny: So I had a few inquiries about doing live streaming and it was a couple of clients were not going to have huge budgets and they didn’t also want major productions. A lot of the things I say with anything that I do is that we’re not making ‘Lord of the Rings’. So there are the people in that market that can do that if that’s what’s wanted. And if the money’s there. But other than that, people want a professional job that’s more than sufficient and that doesn’t have big OB (outside broadcast) trucks like in the old days, the old television set-up. They don’t have scores of people coming in with desk after desk after desk with cables, you know, around everywhere. So with those couple of clients, they had very small budgets but they wanted to go live. And they wanted to do it regularly.

So I looked around and I saw all the expensive equipment that I could have bought and then, of course, I would’ve had to have charged to try to recoup that. But then a friend of mine put me onto something that he’d seen at a trade show in Las Vegas and he said, “Give this a go.” I’m not going to tell you what it is now.

So we went and bought it from the US and effectively within a backpack from this hub, I can wirelessly connect up to 10 devices, be it normal cameras or phones. I can preload graphics, preload video. So I could throw to a video now if we wanted to and then just go live. I cut the cameras from an iPad. Hook up all of the audio and the cost-effectiveness is it can be a one-man show. That’s where a skillset does come in where you do need to be able to manage all of that.

I will admit that, also, not everyone can, everyone thinks they can do stuff with phones, but they also can’t because you’ve got to have … there’s a skill set that comes with it. And that’s where I guess I’m lucky in that I’ve got that traditional background.

Trevor: You’ve been doing that for a little while yet.

Danny: So yeah. And that’s where it’s a big factor. So we go in there and we’ve done three or four cameras with phones and iPads. Live streams to Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo. You can do it to any of those. That’s mainstream.

Trevor: And when you’re saying you cut between, so, and having seen this in action, you’ve got these multiple camera angles. There’s not just the one straight on, but ones from the side. We’ve done stuff where we’ve got a panel of three people and then we can cut to the person talking and then we can go to a two-shot and then a three-shot. And it’s just like TV but it’s live. And I want to get into the power of live in a tick. But I think it’s just good for people to understand that this is all doable at a really cost-effective price today. People will say, “Why should I do it live? Why can’t I just record it and put it up? Upload it wherever, whenever I can?”

And to which I always say, “That’s fine, you can do that.” The bonus that I see with live, and I’d love to hear your thoughts as well, but the good thing about live is that there’s no room for error. I think sometimes that we bang on about authenticity and stuff like that. You’re going to be your most raw and authentic in front of a live camera. And if you trip up and you go over your words or you “bang” – knock the cup over and water goes everywhere. That’s all part of it, isn’t it? That’s live television and that’s live video. We like that because also it makes it a little bit more relatable. If you’ve got a CEO stumbling over their words, but still getting it out there in the way they’d normally talk and we just would feel this a little bit more of a connection with people. What do you think?

Danny: We all don’t have silver tongues so we’re all not perfect with everything we say as I just demonstrated there. And that is the thing about being live. Some people can do it, some people can’t. So, there’s a little bit of an admission that needs to be there, some people just aren’t cut out for it. But others can, and they’re very good and you don’t have to be professionally television trained and all that sort of stuff. A big part of it is being you. And that’s what comes across. If you’re not being you and you’re trying to be someone else as I know some really top-line broadcasters, and they’re “don’t be a copy” and the natural nature of that really comes across.

Trevor: I think the other part to do with live too and what we’ve seen, we focused on Facebook with my clients. This gizmo you’ve got can, and there are re-streaming tools out there. There’s a whole plethora of stuff now that have all emerged.

Danny: You can be as simple or as complicated as you’d like.

Trevor: That’s right. If you’ve got to be YouTube following, well then you’d probably do it more on YouTube or try and do YouTube and Facebook, which would be the two big ones. It depends on where your audience is and what you’re trying to do with it, but the more you can stream, as you said, across five channels. But it just gets complicated. It’s best to keep it simple and then, you know, you can put … what we do is with Facebook is we do it on Facebook first, you give us the video and then we upload it to YouTube the next day.

But the good thing with live is you’re getting the interaction. It works when you want interaction.

Danny: The engagement is right there and then.

Trevor: So, if you’re not seeking engagement then you’ve got to take that into consideration. I guess the other thing where live works is if there’s news breaking and you want to be on top of it. So it’s interest rates breaking or there’s some new legislation or whatever your business is, but you want to be out first, well being live is the quickest way. The second quickest way is doing (recording) it and putting it straight up. I guess the other part of that is Danny, when you’re doing the live and you’ve got people answering and asking questions, that again gets you closer to your audience and so you’re acknowledging them, you’re answering their questions, which is transparency.

That’s where it works well when there’s commentary and the people are asking you questions and when you can do that and talk to them and it means you’ve got to have a computer there while you’re doing it, which adds another layer of difficulty. But that’s the beautiful part. And the thing is that’s then social proof – showing that people are interested, they’re asking questions and that you’re happily answering those questions, which provides utility and you’re educating.

Danny: You’re interested in them being there.

Trevor: Correct. So this, to me is the nuance of live is that interaction. Now, I’ve even seen some big companies, sportspeople, sports organisations do it as well. They don’t necessarily always get the biggest audience at the time live, but the updraft is afterward. And we know that at this point Facebook still loves its live video. So it gives you a bit of a kick along with the its algorithm in that regard. So there’s a couple of other little reasons why you go for live versus let’s just set it up and then do it and edit it and put it straight up.

Danny: Yeah. There was one particular client of yours that we’ve done regular live sessions for. And they had a test period. They said give it a go three times. And by the third time they were starting to build some engagement, they didn’t just rely on the first. “Oh, it didn’t work this first time. That’s it.” And now we’re up to a half dozen or something like that. So it’s becoming a regular part of their content strategy, but also for a lot of their clients and prospective clients, it’s becoming a regular thing that they engage with.

Trevor: Well also what we’re trying to do is show that they front up. So we’re doing it monthly, pretty much the same time every month. We’ve just shifted the times itself. But the date is the first Thursday in the month. We’re trying to make it part of that programmatic viewing I think is an important thing to do. And now we’re doing it-

Danny: Consistency.

Trevor: Yeah, we’re doing it at eight o’clock at night now because we’ve tried at midday, we’ve tried it at four o’clock, six o’clock. They’re just quite busy times for people to sit down for 20 minutes, an hour on it. I think 8 pm … people can, given the target audience we want, they can put their feet up. But now we were sort of getting a couple of pictures back of people watching it on the TV. So they’re Chromecasting or mirroring it through Apple TV so that changes the concept of it is literally you’re on the TV screen. So not necessarily being watched on a computer or on an iPad. So it’s interesting though, there are all the nuances around live that allow you to do, there’s a little bit more pressure because it is live, but it gets done and gets out of the way. There’s not people saying, “Oh, can I go back and change that? Can you edit that out?” No.

Danny: Which you can do later.

Trevor: Of course you can.

Danny: A lot of things when people go live it’s lost to Facebook there and then or YouTube or you can download it later but it’s never quite the same, but in this instance we actually record the program that’s going out as well. And it can also record every other source. Like this, there’s four cameras. It can record them separately. So if we wanted to do something with it later, we could repackage some of those again. So there’s all of those options now that’s out there rather than just sitting in front of the phone and hoping it’s right and then it’s out there and that’s the end of it.

Trevor: And here’s the thing, you can chop it up into, depending on what it’s like and the quality, but you can chop it up into bite-size, two-minute little bite-size conversations within the broader conversation for social media. So there’s a little bit of experimentation. What we’re seeing now with this consistency with this one client is that we’ve got these people hanging around for a little bit longer each time. And that’s the hardest thing to get people hanging around. And when we put it on a YouTube, it’s up to about 18 minutes, 17, 18 minutes, people are watching it for which I think, in today’s day and age, that’s quite a bit. It’s the after-effect, I feel, that’s the bonus of it, but the live gives its energy and its magic.

Danny: Yeah, exactly. They’re getting people to hang around because what they’re doing is good. And they break it down too, they’re not assuming a lot of knowledge with their audience. So people who don’t know what a particular acronym or a phrase means, they actually go and explain it there. So with this three camera set up …  like when someone just sets the camera up and three people sit there, I actually look at it and I go, “Oh, this is boring” because it’s just the one shot of the three of them. There’s no variety. The cutting of cameras and when one of them is holding the floor talking and at least the other two on their own or something like that. So there’s just that small production factor, which can make the visual appeal that much more.

On the other side of it, you look at one example that I use and I hope we can name names. Major League Soccer in America. I’m fascinated that they are going live on Facebook. When I see it, it’s 1 pm on a Monday afternoon when it pops up for me then so in the US whatever time it is, whatever side of the country, and they’re doing full television schmick, just full theme and they are just doing that live to Facebook.

Trevor: Wow.

Danny: So that’s all the television studio and that sort of stuff. So you get a big organisation like that that’s going to all of that trouble. And it’s not a program that they’ve shown on ESPN or something like that and then put it on Facebook … they’re doing that specifically to Facebook.

Trevor: Directly to Facebook, yeah.

Danny: Even then, and someone might correct and we hope they do because it means they’re watching, their numbers at the live viewing aren’t huge from what I’ve seen anyway. They’re not in the tens of thousands, not even in the thousands at times. But they’re going to all of that trouble of doing it. A big organisation like that to engage with everybody through social media.

Trevor: And it’ll be up for a while anyway, in perpetuity … and no doubt they maybe throw a few dollars on it behind it to amplify it, to reach their direct target audience.

Danny: Well the other thing too is that there’s a lot of countries that have restrictions on branding on television. For instance, in the UK, you can’t have big signage for advertising, like say we do in Australia. We sell everything we can in Australia.

Trevor:  We do.

Danny: But in the UK, you’re not allowed to on television.

Trevor: Oh really? Didn’t know.

Danny: So with going out on social media, we have those branding opportunities. For instance, you know, whatever’s on here. And there’s another rule too, on television it was always rude to drink or eat. But, here we are.

Trevor: Excellent. Well, I’ll give you a tick to be able to get that down. Danny, how can people find you? Dial M for Media. What’s the website?

Danny: Dot info.

Trevor: Dot info. Yes, old school. Old school. What did they call it? The domain or whatever. Excellent.

Danny: It’s information. That’s pretty much it.

Trevor: It is, that’s it.

Danny: And again, that website will just tell you what I’m doing. Rather than trying to wow the world with mega-dollar graphics and swishes and stuff like that.

Trevor:  It’s all phones. Digital news content, live streaming shot on iPad and iPhone. Thanks very much.


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G'day, my name's Trevor Young. Subscribe to the PR Warrior blog today and receive regular updates from me on all things PR, social media, content marketing and thought leader branding.

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