Video in PR: Fresh Ideas for More Effective Press Releases

April 05, 2012 | Paula Crerar
Video in PR: Fresh Ideas for More Effective Press Releases

Want to increase the chances that your press releases break through the clutter and get picked up by influential publications or broadcasters? Try adding video to your PR campaigns

"Online publications need rich content and are more likely to pick up your release if it has assets beyond text,” says Eric Davies, principal at PR and marketing agency Davies Murphy Group. “Your video also makes it particularly easy for broadcasters to include your story in their coverage since they have material they can use without having to send a crew to get footage."

For example, Davies says you might want to consider video when your press release includes:

  • A product announcement:  “A demonstration, a how-to, an overview of tips and tricks – these are great uses of video [in PR],” he explains. “The age-old adage that a picture is worth a 1,000 words applies. Video adds an element and a dimension you just can’t get with text.”

  • A compelling customer or analyst quote:  Consider taking a testimonial quote to the next level with a “talking head” video. Similarly, a very brief video interview with an executive or subject matter expert in your organization can add more depth and personality to the press release.

  • An event: Davies recommends taking advantage of the visual and audio aspects, as well as the unique nature of the event location, with a short video.

As with all content, there are a few video do's and don’ts to keep in mind. Here are some additional tips to remember when using video in PR:

  • Just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should.  As Davies points out, you should include video in your press release only if there’s a visual/audio aspect to your story.

  • Keep it short.  A 90-second video is good; a 60-second video is even better. We’ve become a very impatient audience with short attention spans. Just be careful not to over-edit your piece so that it looks like an unnatural blend of splices. 

  • Don’t overlook the video file size and format.  “It’s a big mistake to include video without compression,” Davies points out. “The file will be enormous − no site can host it and no one will be able to see it.”  (Note:  This problem is eliminated if you upload your videos to Brainshark.)

  • Prepare and practice.  In the age of YouTube, you might assume that you can just press the camcorder button and go. But as Davies explains, business videos require you to think through what will be said. “You do have to rehearse and get multiple takes,” he adds. That being said, you can still capture a very unforced, relaxed feel in your talking head videos by going through the points a couple of times until the speaker is comfortable with them.   

  • Don’t film a commercial.  “The video should enhance the editorial content, and not be an excuse for a marketing piece,” cautions Davies. Otherwise, it won’t be used by the media and you’ll have wasted your time. 

  • Pay attention to visual details. If the filming location is too dark, the final video could be rendered useless, warns Davies. He advises companies to use natural light – even filming next to a window if they don’t have lighting equipment. 

The day before the shoot, it’s also a good idea to remind your video subjects to avoid clothing with stripes and tight patterns. That way, you won’t get a weird moiré effect in your final footage. And if you’re using a small handheld camera, Davies recommends investing in a $20 tabletop tripod to keep your final output rock steady. “Remember,” he says, "this is eye candy for whoever is posting. Make sure it’s visually appealing."

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