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The Future of Video – Now

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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.

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