The year was 1982. As an MTV-obsessed pre-teen, I would sit patiently in front of the television, poised to hit record on the VCR the second I heard the beginning strains of Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf,” or any number of big budget music videos from artists like Prince, Michael Jackson and Madonna, until my Memorex tape was filled. I made these compilation tapes for two reasons: I wanted to be able to watch my favorite videos whenever I desired and I wanted to share them with my friends.
Fast forward to 2008. Digital video has emerged as a vital communication tool inspiring conversation and increasing exposure for products, causes and services 24 hours a day. During PRSA’s Digital Impact Conference, we learned that when it comes to video, it’s no longer about big budgets. Some of the most successful case studies show how a small budget, clever video and well-planned strategy can go a long way. Other notable campaigns relied on user-generated content and viral communication to help spread their messages. It was stressed during the conference by many of the speakers that online videos must not only be creative but highly-engaging in order to reach online audiences — audiences that are growing at a rapid pace. In the session “Digital Video: A Potent Catalyst for PR’s Conversations With Audiences,” Lynn Bolger of comScore informed us that as of March 2008, 138 million people were viewing online video regularly.
In the session “Speak to me…not at me,” Matthew Snodgrass of Porter Novelli told us how indie rock duo The Bird and The Bee increased their popularity with their song “Again and Again” thanks to online video. Oh, not with their professionally produced online video that cost somewhere around $100,000 to create. No, the “Again and Again” video that garnered more than twice as many views and four times the comments on YouTube was created by Dennis Liu on his MacBook Pro. Liu, an NYU grad hoping to become a full-time filmmaker, was inspired to create his own Apple commercial. The result was a compelling video that showcased Apple’s functionality and the band’s catchy tune, not to mention Liu’s impressive editing skills. Liu’s out of pocket expense? Approximately $100. The value of the exposure gained for Apple, The Bird and The Bee, and Liu? Priceless. With new technology and online tools comes a need for greater freedom to allow for creative flow. Liu didn’t receive any cease and desist orders from either Apple or the band. In fact, they lauded Liu’s project. Steve Rubel, director of Insights at Edelman Digital reminded us in his session “2008 Digital Trends: Open Files” that we are living in the era of the “Cut & Paste Web” where content is lifted and placed wherever the viewer pleases. Communicators must make every digital program, including video, portable in order to guarantee the farthest possible reach.
When it comes to online video uploading and sharing, YouTube, while the most popular, is not the only player on the field. Yahoo, AOL and MySpace, as well as a laundry list of other sites, all have video sharing capabilities. Snodgrass suggested those with limited time look into TubeMogul, a service that will distribute your video to numerous sites and measure the results. Basic service is free and the price steadily goes up based on features.
As for me, I’m still a fan of video. I got married a few months ago and we decided to skip hiring an expensive videographer, opting instead to ask my 16-year-old film-savvy nephew to shoot our big day. I love the “realness” that he captured and have been editing the file on my Mac into a selection of highlight clips. The next step will be uploading them to my YouTube page and embedding the links on our wedding blog. You see, these are my new favorite videos and I want to share them with my friends.
I guess some things never change.
Sharon Terry Fletcher, copywriter/editor, Public Relations Society of America. A self-proclaimed Web 2.0 junkie, Sharon utilizes her traditional and online marketing and public relations background both professionally and personally.