Most people will have noticed how over the last year especially, video is everywhere online – be it company sites showing their goods or services in action, or the CEO remarking on virtuous CSR initiatives; politicians’ sites showing (carefully selected!) interviews and speeches (Sarkozy’s site is practically a video vault); or news sites showing the type of footage we’re used to seeing on TV news. With video-editing tools being part of the standard Microsoft Windows package now (Windows Movie Maker) along with staples like Notepad and a calculator, and YouTube offering free hosting and a player, as well as an an endless source of existing videos, even the most humble blogger can use video to enrich a story.
We’ve gladly jumped on the bandwagon. Not because it’s a fad, but because the power of video can vastly enhance and humanise a story. At a time when even old-school corporate communicators are coming to terms with the fact that engaging and being open, honest and transparent is a) expected of them; and b) can help reach campaign goals or improve personal, company, industry or brand image (if done well!), video is becoming increasingly important. In particular, we’ve found that interviews with expert stakeholders are a great boost to campaigns. Even if the same content is expressed in text form on a site, or in a position paper or traditional press release, actually hearing it straight from the source has proven very effective, for obvious reasons: there’s no potential PR spin around a quote, and even if editing can embellish an interview by cutting out the “bad bits”, there’s less scope than in a press release, where one select quote is usually shown to represent an entire interview or statement. And in the interest of full transparency, what we’ve taken to doing when we’re showing snippets of interviews is uploading the full unedited interview to YouTube as well and letting people know it’s there if they’re interested.
To those who still think it all sounds a little complicated, think again. A simple recording on a hand-held camera can be transfered to a PC in a matter of minutes, edited using say Windows Movie Maker, and uploaded to YouTube. The whole process could take a few hours if you’re really in a rush. What about production values I hear? Some people have asked us why the footage does not look like it does on TV. We tell them what most people understand already: production values are not the point! YouTube (or other video sharing sites for that matter) do not allow for high-quality video (with 2+ billion views per month their servers are pretty busy as it is); but more importantly, say in an interview with a stakeholder, it’s the content that matters, not how grainy the footage is. Plus frankly, grainy footage with background noise appears more “‘real” i.e. less staged than a video filmed with high-end production resources: proper lighting, clean sound, make-up etc. Not great if you’re a high-tech company showing off your production plant; but much better if you’re interviewing a scientist about a highly contentious issue during a coffee break at at an event.
And finally, what do you do once you have your video uploaded to YouTube or other video sharing site? You embed it so it appears directly on a site or blog, meaning the user does not have to click through to YouTube; you simply send the link to people you think should see it; and once you have a few, you set up a channel on YouTube to collect all your videos in one place (an example: Barack Obama’s YouTube channel).