Video Content in Public Relations
If it’s true that a picture is “worth a thousand words,” then video is worth far more, especially where the value of public relations is concerned. Each video produced about your company is a reflection of everything from its goods and services to overall culture. Video should therefore be an essential part of your public relations strategy. And in today’s world, it’s more important than ever for PR professionals to be video-savvy. They must understand how videos can elevate—or sink—a company’s reputation and public standing.
Video is extremely effective—and extremely underutilized
Most people are “visual learners.” They remember what they see and feel far longer than what they read. Studies show that people retain 95 percent of information presented in video form versus 10 percent of information in printed form. That’s a “Grand Canyon-sized” gap. And, if you just visualized the Grand Canyon in your mind—the point has been made. Video has a stronger and more lasting impact then print.
Video is both extremely effective and extremely underutilized. Online video accounts for 82 percent of all online traffic. Videos are shared 1,200 percent more times than text. And four out of five customers state that video is helpful to them when they are making a buying decision. Websites with videos retain their audiences longer than those with just print. An entire generation is watching video content on their computers, phones, and iPads. It speaks directly to a video-savvy generation in a language they understand. It captures attention and holds an audience. In short, any video that a business puts out is a form of public relations, regardless of whether it is PR-specific or a short plug for a new and interesting product that will be posted to the company website. Whatever the purpose, all video should be of good quality.
The creation of good quality video, however, still requires some level of talent and creativity.
The main obstacles to the creation of good video content are high cost and time consumption. As a result, utilizing video tends to fall by the wayside. Never forget: The quality of your video content is an extension of your company’s public image. Just as high-quality video can elevate an image, poorly produced, amateurish video can severely harm it. Now, more than ever before, everyone—from your creative department to public relations professionals—need to be in the know about good and bad video practices, and how they present your company to the world.
Things to keep in mind…
The purpose of video is a long-tail all-encompassing story of your company and should therefore be considered an investment into the brand’s livelihood. Poor-quality video gets poor results. And if doesn’t result in the number of views and have a high return on investment, decision-makers may forever see video as a waste of time and money. It’s not that video is a bad idea—but it is if you try to cut corners by producing poor-quality work on a low budget that wasn’t capable of the expected return on investment. So, some things to keep in mind:
- Talent. Hire experienced, qualified and honest professionals. There are many roles involved: producer, writer, actor, videographer, and editor – just to name a few. This is not the time to hire an enthusiast who is looking for experience. There is a learning curve to developing good video, and the downside to working with an inexperienced individual is that the resulting mistakes can be costly and even disastrous to your company’s reputation—especially if the video ends up in a lawsuit or costs you customers or contacts. For this reason, it’s best to hire a professional video production company than it is to attempt it yourself, if you don’t have proper training in this venue. Just because you can drive a car doesn’t mean you have the skills to race in the Indy 500. Similarly, by simply owning great camera equipment doesn’t turn you into Steven Spielberg. There is still something to be said about talent, training, and practice in the creation of good video content. A professional and experienced videographer will produce high-quality video that makes your company look great in every aspect.
- Technology: There are some people who are obsessed with owning the best and latest state-of-the-art equipment on the market, and—as pointed out above—they mistakenly think that this alone will instantly create great video. Bad acting, poor writing, and flat, boring delivery are still terrible—no matter what high-tech camera is used to capture it.
- Script: Even if the video picture quality itself is amazing, the script may be poor or other elements may not be right. It could be structured poorly or the message may get lost. A well-written script should convey your message to your audience as succinctly as possible, and make it stick. The rule to “Keep It Simple and Short” (“KISS”) is more important in a visual medium where viewers typically tune out after a few seconds. And clearly communicate what the value is to the viewer. Answer their question, “What’s does this matter to me?” This will keep them watching.
- Honesty: Novice videographers/producers may not have the confidence or experience to speak up if the script, ideas, or overall messages are flawed. So, they double-down on what might be a bad script or sequences that have been created by their client—not necessarily one that will be effective—simply because the client is paying them to make the video they think they want. By contrast, a professional and experienced videographer/producer will offer honest input and tell you if the script is bad, the storytelling sequence doesn’t work, the video or audio elements are faulty, or if the whole concept looks foolish. It is vital to be honest with your company about any element in a video that can embarrass or harm its reputation.
- Background Visual and Audio: Also, keep an eye on what is in the frame. Anything controversial or inappropriate that shows up in the background could be cause for concern. And, for audio, you should always use a microphone or lavalier microphone for the best possible sound, as this will filter out room noise. Also remember to listen for background noise. Any music, running electronics, lawnmowers, air conditioners, or any and all stray background noise can distract from the message.
- Voice/Tone: If your spokesperson looks insincere, or any aspect of the video looks dishonest or even poorly presented, potential customers or partners could well be deterred from choosing to do business with you. Just as important, they need to be alerted if it looks like they’re obviously reading from cue cards from off-camera, or if their delivery of the script is not working.
- Humor: It’s a sad fact, but even well-intentioned humor can backfire—big time—if the jokes are bad, controversial, or just poorly delivered. And, keep in mind that humor changes over time. The modern Cancel Culture Movement can label something as being “politically incorrect” today, even if it may have been acceptable a couple of years ago. So, where humor in video is concerned, the best practice to follow is to tread lightly. If it’s edgy, it’s best to leave it out. And how can you tell if something is in bad taste? If you’re internally cringing as you watch it—that’s your first sign. It’s important for public relations and company image to be honest about all aspects of the video and to flag and remove any parts that may be in poor taste.
- Standard Quality Consistency: A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. This is also true of video quality. Basic video quality standards should be applied to all company content, ranging from social media to demo videos. All videos are a reflection of and represent your company and could make a critical first impression. Just as correct spelling is important across all written platforms—from social media to website to newsletter—it’s important to maintain video quality consistency on all company videos.
- Copyright Laws: Another important aspect to consider when creating video is copyright law. It may seem like a great idea to have a soundtrack with popular music playing in the background, or to feature pop culture images, or parody famous movie scenes or characters—but all of these are also guaranteed ways to get sued or have your video taken down if you don’t have the proper copyrights. Sometimes, Facebook and YouTube will even flag videos with music playing in the background as containing copywritten material. Even if you accidentally capture a brand name product in the frame, your company can still be sued, so you need to find out about copyright laws and take them seriously. Otherwise, your company could suffer penalties for copyright infringement. This is often why so many parody videos have disclaimers. It’s something you need to take seriously—or it could cost you big time.
The bottom line: High-quality video is a powerful tool that could help your company grow and connect with your online audience and web visitors. As with everything else, however, you need to respect the medium and know how to present a professional image so that it won’t backfire and accidentally make your company look foolish, result in lawsuits, and ultimately turn away customers.