Strategic Video Communication in PR

Video Comms for Business

Video Comms for Business

Video in public relations requires strategy.

Here I’m distinguishing public relations as separate from marketing by the fact that PR is about managing and curating current stories whilst marketing is about creating them.

Organisations and businesses now have the means via the internet to manage a newsroom that includes video in the output.

There are some companies that do this regularly.

The ones that do have the budgets for a newsroom operation often churn out the driest content; banks and financial institutions have a compulsion to upload talking-head CEOs spouting technical jargon that gets few views.

If PR video fails to do its job of informing and entertaining it’s not because video is at fault but the material it is supporting lacks strategy or is poorly executed or simply lazy output.

Most companies, especially the ones that are doing visually engaging activities like building or technology believe they don’t have the budgets to sustain PR video on an ongoing basis, which may be true; PR video is not for every business.

Financial sustainability of multiple news video is down to a careful integration of video strategy into PR planning. It is possible on a reasonable budget to contract for the production of a given number of videos in a month for either uploading into the social media networks or holding them for the right moment.

It’s about weighing up the effectiveness of using video on a regular basis to tell the good news stories in an organisation in a colourful way that pro-actively manages its relations with many stakeholders; customers, investors, employees, against other forms of PR.

Planned video output can be a very powerful tool in ongoing communications with everyone involved the business journey. Its effectiveness derives from the quality of the content and the understanding of how video supports other comms activities.

PR video can be produced in-house as an adjunct of the marketing department or outsourced to a long-term partner with the capability of producing multiple ‘news’ style videos and turning them around in a 48 hour timeframe.

Success or failure of an organisation’s PR video in communicating with its stakeholders relies on a clear strategy and commitment to consistent, ongoing, high-quality output which is used pretty much as soon as it’s produced in the channels that connect with its audience.

There is nothing flash or fancy about PR video, but with good, old fashioned, news management, long term multiple video output lays a bedrock of trust in a business organisation that will build archive and communicate fully with stakeholders.

Instagram Promotes Creative Video

Instagram Accelerates Video Uploads

Instagram Accelerates Video Uploads

Instagram is capitalising on the success of video on its platform by introducing a showcase of the best content creators and curated channels.

Available only to US-based iOS and Android users, the new channels are hosted on the Explore page of Instagram and will be rolled out globally in the next year.

This change is a clear indication that the video shorts format, which now has an Instagram style all of its own, is another staging post in the online video journey.

I’ve written before about the phenomenal growth of Instagram as a video platform in such a short time; but it’s worth saying again that video is exploding as a media format.

The appetite to watch and share video shorts is a revelation.

And this time brands that want to be seen and be relevant to their customers have to get involved in the rapidly changing sharing habits of the internet generation.

Whereas You Tube has a multifunctional, all embracing role as a video platform, or perhaps more correctly, a video engine, there can be no doubt that Instagram has one role only and that is to encourage sharing and conversation around visual content to create a huge community that spends as much time as possible immersed in the platform.

And video on Instagram is catching up with photo content.

It’s interesting that specific styles of filming have emerged so quickly to define an Instagram video, which must be a result of the restrictions placed on producers by the platform (very unlike You Tube).

Instagram videos are 15 seconds (if not paid for) and restricted by a square format. The overhead style with stop-motion is now ubiquitous. This is a great example of how memes develop through experiment and innovation and then just become an internet norm.

It also shows how users are hacking the platform to upload videos that clearly are not created, as intended, on mobile devices, but in carefully edited sequences on professional cameras.

Drop a pebble in the water and watch the ripples spread.

Instagram is the platform of our time.It appeals to our appetite for the visual, for sharing, for showing, and it’s not too fussy about what’s uploaded.

Brands can use it and become friends with their followers. Their video needs to be more polished than that of your average Joe, but when brands do Instagram well like Jamie Oliver, it is sheer magic to see how the links across all social media outputs seamlessly drive towards a consumer message.

Food Revolutions & Making a Difference

Viva The Food Revolution

Viva The Food Revolution

Social media, video and a new cultural vibe are making a difference to the food scene in our town.

Bristol has an exhilarating vitality about it, as pop-up restaurants, food stalls, food markets and food producers, growers and chefs impact on the city.

Bristol Food Connections Festival has just finished. This embodies the activist food culture in Bristol like no other event.

By the people for the people, Bristol Food Connections is about grass roots involvement with food – from growing on waste land, food education, sharing different cuisines to re-purposing the accepted food production infrastructure.

It’s ambitious, sometimes chaotic, community-led and challenging.

Using social media to spread the word, the Festival, now in its third year and run entirely by volunteers, is connected to its disparate contributors via the internet; it’s what glues it and fuels it.

As part of the event earlier in the month, Mendip Media along with a host of interested foodies celebrated British asparagus production with a five course meal made by Michelin star chefs in a Mongolian yurt next to the main railway terminal; an event supported by a brilliantly orchestrated social  media campaign.

This cross fertilisation of media, the internet, food and raw talent is raising the temperature to boiling point and fusing new cultural possibilities.

And now Bristol has the elite Silver Award for being a Sustainable Food City.

As part of a network of cities and towns across the world, Sustainable Food Cities membership involves developing a cross-sector partnership of local public agencies, businesses, academics and NGOs committed to working together to make healthy and sustainable food a defining characteristic of where they live.

The Great British Asparagus Feast

The Great British Asparagus Feast

And in Bristol it’s little surprise that as one food festival finishes, another bold and noisy food event is upon us.

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day bursts into life tomorrow on 20th May.

Billed as an annual global day that celebrates good, fresh, real food that shouts about the benefits of cooking from scratch, it has a slickness of purpose that comes from big financial backing.

But for all its professional video-led marketing and absolute mastery of internet communications, it is no less serious about changing attitudes to food.

In fact, thank god for Jamie Oliver’s elevation from pukka TV chef boy to a serious player in food politics.

Jamie is a champion that might just succeed, because of his social media savviness, in dragging not only the food retailers and their supply chain but a so-far indifferent public, out of the morass of poor eating that we’ve become accustomed to over many decades.

Viva the Food Revolution!

You Tube Punches Smart As A Video Platform

More Bang for Your Buck

More Bang for Your Buck

You Tube changed the online landscape for video.

Created in 2005 in the same month as Mendip Media, You Tube absolutely smashed the boundaries of what was possible in video distribution and helped to break the monopolised world of TV broadcast.

From the start, You Tube was focussed on nothing but video. Mendip Media salutes the single minded commitment to a format that has subsequently come to dominate the digital space.

You Tube was the first wave of social media channels, and perhaps of the all networks it has been the most undervalued, unsung and influential platform in creating the global Internet and mobile digital space we have today.

Like all early disrupters, You Tube is now being disrupted by native platforms that don’t want embedded video from an outside source but want users to upload directly to their network and stay in the space.

The fight is on, but with Google’s backing You Tube is well placed to put up stiff resistance to the new kids on the block like Instagram, Snapchat and Vine.

A newly published 5-year study on the effectiveness of return on investment (ROI) between online video and TV adverts claims that online video ad units deliver up to 50% more return than TV ads. And that You Tube in particular is shown to be the pre-eminent platform in terms of delivering real influence for advertising spend.

Given the explosion of interest in digital video, with increased uploading and viewing across the globe, especially on mobile, it’s not surprising that advertisers are following the eyeballs.

According to the report’s publisher Paul Dyson from Data2Decisions, “in the optimised media budgets [of advertisers] between fiver per cent and 25 per cent of the total AV budget should be invested in You Tube” 

There has never been a more exciting time to be involved with producing video because the market is expanding so quickly.

However, as repeated studies show, there is a lag between overstretched marketing teams catching up with the rapid changes in where their customers are going to seek out video content. This lag is creating anxiety and indecision about how to formulate and spend media budgets.

But it won’t take long before more advertisers become committed content publishers with sizeable budgets switching from expensive TV content creation and media buying to strategizing, shaping and distributing online video content at scale.

This is Not Content, This is Spammy Shit

Spammy Shit or What?

Spammy Shit or What?

The internet with its video, photos and conversation is an echo chamber full of sound and fury signifying … what?

According to a thought provoking article by Louis D. Lo Praeste (@big_thought), commentator and strategist, the internet is so jammed with social media spam that investing in programmatic distribution of wall-paper content will not sell a bean, but alienate potential customers seeking a return on relationship.

His thesis is that marketing investment in social media will fall away as brands realise it doesn’t sell product.

For all the hype about social media, it seems that content made for these greedy channels has become bland drivel driven by algorithms rather than proper strategic connections with consumers.

And what’s more the seeming rush into digital by marketers proves nothing as overall marketing budgets continue to decline.

But surely it has ever been thus, only the means of distributing content has changed on a massive scale.

There has always been throw-away content in marketing; junk mail, fly posting, excess print inventory, classified ads, unsolicited sales calls. This has just expanded to fill a new and infinite space called the internet.

Sure, social media has changed our relationship to marketing content somewhat; as Louis’ figures prove we now see it as a form of disinterested entertainment rather than seeking it for information or even believing much of it.

But that’s more to do with the standard of content and the sheer amount of it washing around us as we surf the web.

As for marketing spend; it’s stretched so tightly because it’s being used to try to cover every base, which is impossible. Unless a brand’s marketers are super human, there’s no way they can service all the different channels. For many it’s a case of taking a breather to work out what comes next.

We’re still at the beginning of the communications revolution and figuring ways of harnessing the power of global conversation to persuade, cajole and demonstrate our stories.

As content producers we have to believe that quality, creativity, connection and strategy will cut through the noise to give our clients a clear voice.

While MasterChef Rocks, Do Online Recipe Videos Do the Same for Brands?

Jane Devonshire

MasterChef 2016

Congratulations Jane Devonshire on winning MasterChef 2016!

Her final round knocked the stuffing out of the two talented young chefs competing against her.

Fact; formatted cookery shows draw the crowds.

MasterChef in Mexico drew 4.8 million viewers and netted the biggest audience in its time slot with a 24% share and was the second most talked about show on Twitter. The Great British Bake Off has the same appeal.

Of course, we’re talking television and a certain demographic (over 30s, because possibly like me they’re the only ones still watching TV), but still cookery and competition has a strong pull.

Does this appeal apply to the more orthodox cookery programmes like Mary Berry’s Absolute Favourites or Nigella Lawson’s The Taste? These are step-by-step recipe programmes, showing us the benefit of a cook’s wisdom whilst giving us ideas about what and how to make dishes.

I think it’s fair to say the celebrity-chef dominated series now seems dated and old fashioned. But as always the pioneer of ‘in yer face food’ won’t let it rest and has stepped in to rescue a tired format.

Jamie Oliver is attempting to sprinkle some fairy dust on TV cookery with his latest offering, Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast, which mixes it with pop-up kitchens, invited celebrities, science and a live audience. It’s a reworking of the basic recipe formula for a younger audience.

And if JO is still flogging the recipe format then we should take notice.

His Food Tube is underpinned by recipe videos, and whilst it may look like zoo TV it is clever stuff, with channels like Food Busker attracting millions of followers. At first glance Food Busker videos might look like off-the-cuff, market-stall banter with a recipe thrown in, but watch carefully and you’ll see high-production quality in the filming and cookery.

So are recipe videos worth food brands investing in as a way to promote their products?

Online recipe videos, whether UGV (user generated videos), snippets from broadcast programmes or brand videos are unremittingly popular.

Over 2 million recipe videos were uploaded to the internet in 2015, which just goes to show there’s a recipe out there for just about everything. It also means that recipe videos have to work hard to create a series of authoritative, high-quality and watchable stuff.

The great thing about recipes is that you have to stick with them if you want to find out how a dish works and often viewers will watch them more than once, so unless they are poorly made, recipe videos get a higher percentage of ‘views to the end’ than other food videos.

Recipe videos are not MasterChef or Bake Off, which actually have very little recipe information in them, but they do reflect the zeitgeist for cooking, food and culinary fusion.

And brands like Waitrose know this, which is why they are investing in high-quality recipe video on their own online TV channel.

Asparagus Fever Turns Traditional PR On Its Head

Great British Asparagus Feast

Splurging on Asparagus

I could write an essay on the asparagus and its history in world cuisine, but instead I’m marvelling at how this highly seasonal vegetable is at the centre of a brilliant, thoroughly modern campaign to fuse online tools and PR to promote British asparagus growers.

Tonight as Bristol’s annual Food Connections Festival draws to a close, there will be a special celebration of the asparagus in the form of a five-course meal at Yurt Lush to support the British asparagus industry.

This is a unique event to give profile to and support a single type of vegetable.

Unique because it has been masterminded through an online crowdfunding campaign, and as such is probably a first for any small agricultural sector in the UK.

When you go to The Great British Asparagus Feast crowdfunding site, the first thing you’ll encounter is a video bigging up the little vegetable.

Make no mistake the video is a major factor in successfully selling a complex idea about asparagus and its promotion to the crowd. It shows and tells the whys and wherefores of the event and has been instrumental in raising over £7K for the project.

On reflection, maybe it’s not such a surprise to find that British asparagus is the star of its own show.

Hard to find out of season, this is perhaps the one vegetable that is prized more highly than others because of its rarity. Certainly in countries like Italy, asparagus season is a joyous and much anticipated harbinger of high spring.

The surprise is how the vegetable is being turned into and treated as a brand.

With consummate skill Pam Lloyd PR has created a razzmatazz event, complete with celebrity chefs, to showcase the asparagus, and funded it via an appeal to food lovers and interested parties through a crowdfunding site. This in turn has created more collateral to keep the momentum going in the social media channels.

Genius!

Knowing that five asparagus-filled courses await us this evenin, and being aware of the many myths associated with the veg, I’ll be keeping a careful eye on the after effects of this magical night out in Bristol.

The Phenomenon of the Food Hack Video

Mendip Media Hacks Food

Mendip Media Hacks Food

Right now food video is mighty popular.

The figures don’t lie; Buzzfeed’s Proper Tasty Channel, which is king of food hack video production, has 49 million likes.

Unsurprisingly these are professional, well-produced, well-lit, budgeted-for videos, which drive viewers through the platform to create ad revenue.

No user-generated content here.

And the people watching these food hacks are not just ‘cyberloafers’ but those genuinely interested in the recipes and the ‘how-to’ aspects of the videos.

So what?

Food hack videos are inventive; they bypass the need for a presenter and cut to the chase by providing visual information about culinary techniques.

But more than that, ad revenue driven media platforms like Proper Tasty or Food Tube or Delish long ago cottoned to the fact that the universal language of food, which all of us share and a majority have an interest in, is a money spinner.

Food, like sex, is a no-brainer for show and tell and making dough (no pun intended).

Food hacks are a short form entry into the world of food video and all it can bring in terms of audience, engagement and brand recognition.

Even more so because as a format that has only just come into its own with its jangly music, semi-animated, overhead-angle, graphic- driven, ‘eazy’-recipe identity, trending high and grabbing eyeballs style.

But don’t be fooled by a food hack video’s seeming simplicity.

They are devilish complex little shorts to make; relying as they do on well-conceived but quick recipe ideas, food preparation and the high production needs of studio-lit, precision filming.

Anyone who tells you otherwise has never made one of them.

This is our latest kitchen hack (a derivation on the food hack) which plays with the stop-motion format to create a fun short.

Is Video A Good Training Medium?

Training Dramas Engage & Motivate Staff

The benefits of video as a training tool are too often assumed to be self-evident.

Video can be delivered over the internet and is therefore a centralised method for distributing demonstrable skills and knowledge.

Learning can therefore be updated and replaced regularly and simply with a built-in cost efficiency over paper-based learning tools.

Video is engaging and can show practical demonstrations in real-life environments which saves on a cohort of trainers, who themselves need the training both in the work place skills they are to demonstrate and the ability to teach.

Video training can be viewed by individual employees when it suits them from multiple locations on multiple devices, which means an efficient implemented

Whilst all of the above is true and HR should always consider video as means of delivering training, the implementation of video programmes is far from a panacea for quick and easy teaching on the cheap.

Uploading videos to You Tube doesn’t really cut it if you want to find out if the work force have watched and understood the training lesson.

Developing a training website for video content, with a login system and questionnaire assessment software for hundreds of employees is of equal importance to the video content for a properly implemented training package.

Once the website is there, the training packages then need development, with the video content – scripts, storyboards, production – aligned to the learning outcomes. This means the video producers and trainers should always work in tandem to develop specific material for specific packages.

There is no getting away from the hard fact that client time and input is vital to making the video content work as a training tool.

The video producer is not a specialist in the skills that are being demonstrated in a training package but IS a specialist in creating the look, feel and clarity of a module. It is the client who knows what messages they want to convey and what skills, services and behaviours are prevalent in their workplace.

Mendip Media has produced many large scale training programmes.

The least successful was when video content was commissioned as an afterthought to the training website.

The most successful and best videos have been training dramas, which recreate workplace scenarios that employees recognise and that can be distributed either via training websites or used in workshops. These videos not only have the benefit of being useable both as online and classroom material, but they have high engagement and therefore memorability value.

Video content is a proven way to skill up a large workforce, but it only works as part of a larger strategy to deliver training.

Long term partnerships with video providers or the creation of an in-house video team are recommended to create the very highest quality training content as well as a commitment from HR to require its training staff to be closely involved with the video production process.

Video Comes of Age In Retail Stores

Video Now Entrenched In Retail Environments

In-shop videos, point-of-sale display, video walls, holograms (no really) … does this all point to an unstoppable digital revolution in big retail outlets, whether department store or shopping centre?

Maybe.

Video has in fact been used for a considerable time in a lot of bigger shops.

One of Mendip Media’s first commissions was to film the girl-band Bond at Westfield promoting the launch of a new Peugeot. The film was then re-run on big screens across the centre and at point of sale in franchises.

Nowadays fashionable capital city centres are alive with shop fronts integrating video into their campaign display.

The little tellie screen in the corner of the garden centre still plugs the latest plant gizmo with grim determination.

Screens in toilets and by the tills are regularly seen in stores.

And in Korea, there are shops that have only video walls of product demos with QR codes allowing for a swipe and order system.

But in terms of making video content (as well as the technology it’s distributed by) a truly valuable part of the shopping experience there’s still a way to go. It’s early days. Shop designers are only just beginning to assess and understand the interplay of video, design, product and theatre within the store environment.

As the online space demonstrates, video has a very robust role in the consumer journey and is now being well integrated into ecommerce sites (if not always from the UX side at least technologically).

This can be replicated in-store, but the screens and their siting need careful planning with high quality content that matches product display and shop promotions.

No doubt digital technology can enhance a visit to a favourite department store but really the best experience involves human interaction.

A highly knowledgeable and helpful store assistant will always be of the greatest help to a customer who wants detailed product information.

Video is only useful if it complements the overall experience, but it can work spectacularly well and create cost efficiencies which is why WHSmith has recently announced it’s introducing digital screens to a hundred store fronts.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing IMRG - The voice of e-retail

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