Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Importance of Video in a Fast-Paced World

Fast-paced. It's basically the adjective of the century, and it's well-known that speed is what defines the future. PR professionals are all asking the same questions - How do I grab the public's attention, and how fast can I communicate my point? The answer is simple. Video.

The above video is an excellent example of how video can help PR pros communicate in a more effective, succinct and appealing way. This YouTube video of nurse Doreen Riccelli from Lake Pointe Medical Center in Rowlett, Texas, grabbed the attention of news sites, radio stations and social media followers because it was an exciting, fast and visual way to communicate how to perform CPR.

So, why is video important? Visuals bring life to news, and the Internet is making it easier to share and access videos than ever before. Video is also important because:

  • People relate to people. Video can capture character and personality, which people relate to more than written information. Pair a personality with visually attractive b-roll, and your audience will be more willing to watch and listen to your news.
  • People have short attention spans. With the enormous amount of information online and in the media, engaging your audience is harder than ever. Short, attractive videos pull people in, and if they like what they see, they will continue to watch.
  • It helps create a brand identity. Using video is an easy and fun way to create and build your brand’s personality. Videos help your audience get to know who is behind the brand and associate your company with something other than its logo.
  • It’s easy to share. Videos can be shared virtually anywhere. YouTube, social media sites, news sites and email are all great ways to share videos. More importantly, PR specialists can use video when pitching story ideas to the media. The CPR rap video above was used to secure a radio spot on KERA's Health Checkup segment.

How do you get started making videos? Chris Yates, principal and CEO at Huddle Productions, came to the C. Pharr office to help us brush-up on our video editing skills. Chris made a point to explain that you don't need a camera crew to make a video; all you need is a smartphone with video capability and a little direction. Below are a few tips we learned from Chris to remember when shooting a video.

  • Lighting: Make sure the person you're interviewing is in a well-lit area and they are facing toward the light.
  • Volume: If you are in a crowded or loud area, it is always acceptable to ask the person being interviewed if they will step into a separate room that is more quiet. Chris also recommends using the iRig Mic from Apple, a microphone that plugs into your phone to make sure answers are recorded loud and clear. 
  • Visuals: Make sure the interviewee is standing in front of a background that is not too busy. A plain background or background with a simple visual will do. Make sure to shoot the interviewee from the chest up and hold your camera phone horizontally. Don't forget to shoot b-roll to include in your video, too.
  • Editing: This can be tedious and time-consuming, but with patience and the right tools, the end result will be an attractive, professional looking video, completely shot from a phone! We recommend using WeVideo or Apple's Final Cut Pro X.

If you haven't yet embraced the power of video communication, the time is now. The pace of technology isn’t slowing down, and it’s forcing professionals to get creative and find new ways to convey news and key messages. Video is a great way to engage your target audience, get news out quickly, reinforce your brand, share information and much more. 

This blog was contributed by Kathrine Brody, @Kabrody


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Stepping up to the plate – use your pitching skills to do good

It is important to remember as a public relations practitioner armed with a good story, we have the ability to help make things happen in the news. So, with this innate storytelling ability comes the responsibility to give back and help non-profits as well as individuals promote a worthy cause. 

If your family is anything like mine, they are probably asking you to help get their friends, contacts or other family members in the news. I take the same approach with my family as I do with clients – while it is our duty as PR practitioners to take a story and run with it, it is also our duty to tell clients when a story idea won’t work and why.  

I often times find myself in this situation with my family.  When my aunt recently asked me to help one of our family friends get some media coverage, I was skeptical that this was going to be yet another instance of a story that didn’t merit any media attention. However, this time I was pleasantly surprised (and perhaps my aunt should be in PR because she knows a good PR hook when she sees one)! This proposed story had a timely angle that hinged on every PR person’s dream words…”first” and “only.”

Thanks in part to my aunt, I was able to pitch a heart-warming, historic and hugely significant, news-worthy event in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. On August 28th, I put my PR skills to good use and helped gain media coverage for our family friend, Leo Parros, a Montford Point Marine. Nearly 63 years after serving as a Montford Point Marine, the first group of African-American Marines to serve, Leo received the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal! Leo was finally given the long-awaited respect he deserves and I was there to witness it firsthand!

As a public relations practitioner, we are taught to localize stories, find a timely angle and capitalize on the adjective that is like music to our ears: “first.” Leo’s story had all of these hooks and more, but more importantly, I was able to put my PR skills to good use to help tell an important story to the DFW community about the first African-American Marines and this turning point in history

Leo’s story was set to air on the same night as the start of the Republican National Convention and Hurricane Ike. As a PR pro you always hope your client’s news isn’t up against national headlines such as this, because you can almost assume your local news will be bumped. This wasn’t the case for Leo, which just goes to show that when you truly have breaking news, not even a hurricane or the next President can bump your story!

To learn more about Leo’s inspiring story as he accepted the Congressional Gold Medal, read this article in the Fort Worth Star Telegram. The title, “North Texas man honored for being racial trailblazer in Marines,” says it all! Or, watch the ceremony as covered by Fox 4, CBS 11 or NBC 5. Thank you to all the media who came to the ceremony and took an active interest in Leo and his story! I've included some of the images of Leo and the ceremony below. 

This blog was contributed by Leah Ekmark Williams, @leahcpc