The Future is Video ... Now

We are in PR. We know the medium is the message, and people love videos. PR has used video news releases and satellite media tours to great results - I always had great returns on SMTs, and think that they were great hits for the clients. But, we ran into some problems there, didn't we.

Now it's about online video. We have seen the growth of online videos with iTunes and iPods - who has not yet bought a few TV shows for the iPod (or I am just a special geek)?

We all spend time online watching videos on YouTube, or our favorite shows with ZeFrank or 1938 Media (come on, who doesn't love Yue and that other person).

And, it's hit Wall Street with Wallstrip, which has a viral video on the daily hot stocks.

Podtech has taken this to a whole new level with ScobleShow, LunchMeet (yay Irina and Eddie) and all its shows, some of which are like SMTs or VNRs. And they have run into the same issues that PR has dealt with in the past.

One of the grand-daddies of the VNR and SMT world, Doug Simon, has started his own vlog. Via email, we did talk about how the future of the VNR is moving online, with companies doing videos in a smart way. With his background, Doug is well positioned to be a thought-leader on how PR and video are going all social media.

But, that's the thing. Corporations are embracing social media - in particular video, as it is something they can grok - and some are doing it in a smart and clever way. Some of the companies are not doing it in a smart way - I think that's when advertising messaging gets too involved - but others are.

Look at GM's I Got Shotgun (a client). Yes, I'm a little biased, but I think it's great. And, well, when I have a friend that IMs me that he loves the site, that it's been a black hole of time at work (meaning he's been watching all the videos), I know it's hit a sweet spot. It's the combination of bringing in people to be hosts, the videos that they upload to apply to ride shotgun (car allusion, get it?), and then watching them be fun and goofy at different events.

It's that desire that we all have to become stars that makes something like I Got Shotgun work - here's a chance to interview stars at different events, go to those events and get the back-stage pass that you usually would not get.

Or, look at Here's To Beer. I got a chance to talk to Tom Shipley, senior director of global industry development for Anheuser-Busch, about what they are doing - and it's pretty cool.

The site was first launched in February 2006 as a category / industry campaign to choose beer more often, over other alcoholic beverages. While it is an Anheuser-Busch campaign, it is not branded for them, but is more a straight forward delivery of all things beer: how it's brewed, different types of beers, how it pairs with food. While the site had good traffic, it was not repeat traffic, so the new site is more entertainment focused with updated content, and education, such as Beer Connoisseur with the Beer School (interactive videos and classes) that's a really deep dive into the world of beer.

Part of that has been video-heavy content, profiling up and coming artists and different content - but in a way to think about beer more often. The whole message that's integrated into the site is that it's like a monthly 'zine, with fresh new content on a monthly basis, so people can come back and just go to whatever is their favorite part (new talent, beer school, etc.)

The site has also wrangled in Dave Lieberman to become a beer connoisseur. Lieberman - from the Food Network - has a video blog to showcase what he is thinking about beer. It's his personality, and has a ton of leeway to do what he wants to do and what is on his mind - also on a bi-weekly to monthly basis. Lieberman is also the voice and talent behind the Beer School section on pairing beer with food.

Plus, they are taking the social mobile route by working with MingleNow on Clink - so you can socially drink, because drinking alone is just sad. Although, tagging a photo of drinking alone would be funny.

Or, well, look at Stefanie Perez. She's the embed video, and I know her from my blog (yes, people randomly IM me because of my blog). Stefanie lives in LA, she's a 23 year old Latina from Chicago who was in the military but moved there to become a star. She's working it, though, by putting together her own videos and posting them on her MySpace page and getting the word out. Oh, and if any agents are watching, Stefanie's a double threat - English and Spanish.

And, well, that's part of the greatness of online video. Anyone can become a star, like Brookers or Amanda Congdon - some with talent, some without - but you get a shot at getting out to a whole new audience that might never have found you before. Or, go over and apply to win Network2's $25,000 contest on how to watch Internet TV. :)

So my point? Well, that video is part of the mix now in PR. Moreso than before, and probably moreso than ever before. But, just like anything else in social media, it needs to be done well. Yes, video needs to be an integral part of communications - but have it a smart message, not manipulation or astroturf.

How should video be used? First, most importantly, it should be used when appropriate. In this social media rush, firms and corporations rush out to put everything together in one campaign. It does not make sense, though. Video is a great way to get your message across, but companies need to remember to have an honest voice, not messaging. It's one of my lines about social media - hand it over to PR rather than advertising, because PR is used to talking TO people, not like advertising that just talks AT people.

But, only use video if it makes sense. New demo to showcase? Video it and post it in the newsroom and on YouTube. Just don't try too hard, and it should be fine. Oh, and check out SplashCast - great service to create video channels.

Quick update / correction: Here's to Beer is not an A-B activity, but an industry initiative to elevate beer's image overall. It's not promoting one brand over another - if you watch the first Lieberman video, you'll notice all beer is smudged out - but to promote beer and breweries overall, like any other umbrella group. Thanks!

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  1. There's a new guitar being launched called the VXT. It looks like they are using social networking and video almost exclusively to launch this product, slowly revealing more details about the guitar through online media. I'm curious to see how it unfolds.

  2. Great post, Jeremy.

    Anonymous commenter - leave your name or go home. I know it's not my blog but you look like a spammer by commenting that way.

  3. Hi Jeremy!
    I enjoyed your post. I'm just starting to become familiar with these new online videos, like Youtube. I've started using them in my prblog and find that people are more interested in what I have to say when I include one of these videos. Why do you think that is true? I know for me, I am a visual learner and these videos engage me into what the writer is saying. For this very reason, I think these videos will help make social media more appealing to the average person. If for nothing else, it satisfies our want for instant gratification. We want information, and we want it NOW!

    My big question for you, is how do you think we're going to be able to tell the good video sources from the bad? I know with the increase in online media, there has been much talk and debate about its effects on the future. Some people say that by taking away the gatekeepers to media, we're losing a great deal of the art of news and writing. Do you think this also applies to the VNR and video sources such as Youtube?

  4. Jeremy - Terrific post. I was fortunate to find out about the "Here's to Beer" project just before its launch in January 2006 from Bob Lachky, A-B's chief branding guy, who spoke at a higher ed conference in St. Louis. Speaking of Tom Shipleys, I happen to work another Tom Shipley, an old folk-rocker (of Brewer and Shipley fame) who now does video for our campus. He would agree 100% with everything you say here.

    Andrew Careaga
    higher ed marketing

  5. I'm a student learning about social media and the new uses of simple videos. I started messing around on YouTube before it really got big and I wish I knew more about making videos now that its so important.
    I checked out both the I Got Shotgun and Here's to Beer projects and your right, this is the new way of PR. What's so amazing is the different ways each of the sites use their videos. I personally like the have a beer with Ghengis Khan video.
    I'm also a visual learner, and this just kinda wraps up the message in a nice little easily comprehendible package. I can't wait to start working on this more.

  6. Jeremy,
    I really enjoyed your post!! I think I’ve mentioned before I’m really new to the social media world, but am enjoying learning. I love getting insight and advice from a real PR practitioner. I've just started learning about how to use video in things like my PRBlog, and am glad to see you think it's something to notice and that you think it's going to grow. I'm really glad you mentioned in your blog post being responsible with everything we do in relation to social media and video. As bloggers, we are responsible for our words, but they are only words. I remember as a child my mom saying, "a picture is worth 1,000 words", and I'm pretty sure she would say a video is worth 10,000.

    Again, thanks for the advice and insight to how you feel about video!

  7. Thx for the mention jeremy


  8. Hi Jeremy! This is a great post and as a pr student,I always love learning about using forms of social media. As I have been learning more about using online videos in pr, I find myself recognizing it everywhere now. After the JetBlue incident last month, I was impressed to see the CEO of the company address the public through a YouTube video. This was the first time I had seen someone using online video to convey a message, instead of supporting one.
    Television networks are using online video as well now, posting clips and full episodes on their websites for viewers to see.

    I agree that the use of video in pr is very beneficial. The message is more interactive and entertaining for the public. I look forward to learning more about using online videos and appreciate your advice!

  9. I still have so much to learn. I'm just getting my head wrapped around why I need a blog. Will I really need to figure out vlogging next?

  10. Jeremy, I really liked this blog. I got into youtube this past summer, and it is cool to see how video is being brought into PR. Your blog site has taught me a lot about new things in PR as I am getting closer to graduating with a PR degree. Thanks, and keep the blogs coming!

  11. i love this site, i get alot of info from this blog, ty

  12. Video is my first choice! I don't think I could survive without YouTube and it baffles me that just 18 months or so ago, YouTube didn't exist and now it has already been sold for billions of dollars. That says enough for where the future is going. I think that video also has the opportunity of showing a sense of credibility. If a company or individual embraces using video, it shows they are changing with the times and expanding their horizons to convey a message.

  13. grt post, Video is now and future, but th real future is clearly Joost, period Ihope u have tried Joost atleast once by now!