Contributed video: The next PR frontier?

By | Industry Perspective | No Comments

If you work for a B2B tech company, contributed content is likely a cornerstone of your PR strategy. It provides the opportunity to control the the message and position your company’s execs as thought leaders in your industry. While contributed content isn’t going away, a new neighbor might be moving in next door: contributed video.

The newspapers of yesteryear are now a Swiss army knife of content. Our local newspaper, the Indianapolis Star, has a video producer on staff (hi Stephen), and national newspapers crank out multiple videos daily. Facebook, once reserved as a way for college students to communicate (and send each other “bumper stickers” and “pokes”), is now a breeding ground for viral videos. Anyone with a smartphone can shoot video, just like how any CEO with good advice can write contributed content.

So, as more media outlets turn to the “one stop shop” approach for content, will they rely on PR to fill the gaps in their video content calendars? In the past year, a handful of media outlets have requested that our clients’ spokespeople record video of themselves sharing their top industry predictions for the new year. These 30-second “talking head” videos were then compiled to showcase multiple spokespeople in one package.

The media requests for video content got us thinking – will contributed video be the new infographic? A few years ago, an infographic was like a yellow brick road to coverage. While we still pitch infographics to select media contacts, we’ve seen editors cut back on how many they post. If an infographic doesn’t jive with the outlet’s branding or style, it likely won’t get picked up.

So when it comes to produced videos that offer facts rather than just opinion, we were curious  where the status quo currently stood. As it turns out, the waters are a little murky.

“Like an infographic, [a video] is self-contained,” said our friend Sam Whitmore, founder Sam Whitmore’s Media Survey. “Copy desks and editors have too little control over whether a given detail was accurate.”

There are also legal and quality aspects to take into consideration. Even amateur videos of breaking news events require certain clearances to publish. Since media outlets generally have high standards when it comes to the quality of content they choose to post, asking for unvetted video content could prove a risky move.

While the jury is still out on if and when contributed video will catch on, we are beginning to see an increase in demand for visuals. Below are a few items we foresee editors requesting in the coming months:

  1. Supporting images, gifs or video for social media – journalists are expected to maintain a social media presence. If a PR person places an interview, quote, or contributed content, relevant imagery for social media could prove a value-add. Journalists don’t have time to search pages of endless stock photography for the perfect image to include with a link on Twitter, so helping them out will show that you’ve done your homework.
  2. Non-branded data visualizations – pitching data is a part of the job for B2B tech PR, and journalists frequently request charts to help visualize text statistics. Rather than always offering a full-blown infographic, a clean bar graph, pie chart or line graph will likely satisfy the reporter’s need without fear of the story appearing too branded or sales-y.
  3. B-roll – ok, so this is already “a thing,” but offering b-roll is a best practice any time you plan to pitch news to a broadcast producer or video editor at a print publication. We’ve all seen the 30-second, glorified Powerpoint-esque videos on Facebook. Offering b-roll for the producer to run with text overlay is another way to showcase your value.   

For more media predictions and PR best practices sent straight to your timeline, follow BLASTmedia on Twitter.

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