A picture may be worth a thousand words, but for public relations, video is priceless. Now that video cameras are small enough to fit into your back pocket and your bank account, it’s time to put video to work promoting your business.
Your company website is the perfect place to post video. Using nonprofessional equipment such as the small Flip camera, you can record everything from “how-to’s” to “testimonials” and easily upload them to your site.
The video can be used for internal PR. For example, to recognize their contribution to the company, you can interview key employees for the how-to’s.
Videos can also be used for external PR, especially if footage shows an aspect of your business that is not easily seen by the public. And if your video really tugs at the heartstrings (a company charity event) or induces belly laughs (ugliest dog contest held by a pet store), you might consider posting to YouTube. With a camera like the Flip, it’s easy, it’s quick, and it could wind up going viral and getting picked up by a major media outlet.
Some basic rules of thumb will keep your video compelling and help you steer clear of the boring zone.
Study Your Local TV News
Notice how people interviewed look at the reporter standing next to the camera rather than looking directly into the camera itself. Do the same in your videos. Also, notice how the person interviewed speaks in full sentences, even if it requires repeating the question. For example, if the reporter asks “What’s the biggest challenge for your business?” the answer is not “It is … .” The answer is “The biggest challenge for my business is … .” Do the same when you’re videotaping and you will have much more success when it comes to editing your video.
Notice also how the story often begins with “action” video, followed by an interview with a person who explains the action. Do the same in your videos. For example, if you own an art gallery that features paintings made by local disabled artists, you might videotape one of the artists painting in her studio. That action video would then be followed by a videotaped interview of the artist. To tie in your gallery, you may include questions about how having an outlet to display and sell their artwork helps keep the artists connected to a world that is sometimes distant and difficult for people with disabilities.
Be Short and Steady
If possible, limit each shot in your video to less than 30 seconds, and keep your entire video to less than two minutes. Shoot from different angles to provide variety, but in each shot keep the camera stationary. If possible, steady your camera with a tripod. You’re not looking for a slick, professional video, but you also don’t want your website to look sloppy.
Use Photos for Drama
Sometimes the opportunity to create video is limited, while digital photographs are available. Those still photos can be used to help create drama and even action in a videotape. For example, if your gift store features crafts created by tribal women in Africa, distance and language might eliminate the possibility of a video interview. Instead, you might start with a videotaped interview of someone from your store (possibly you) who has met the artists and can speak to the connection between selling their crafts and improving their lives. Then, to break up the interview, edit in digital photographs of the African women that you took on your last buying trip abroad, preferably showing them creating their crafts.
Add a Human Touch
Even if you’re showing an assembly line, add a person to the shot to enhance the look. The focal point of the shot can be the equipment or product, but putting the person in the background, strictly as window dressing, adds some life to the shot.
Follow these basic tips and your video will be fast-paced, fun to watch, and full of potential for both internal and external PR.
In her 16 years as a PR professional, Barbara Goldberg has helped clients in health care, alternative energy, and the performing arts tell their stories in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, CBS News, ABCNews.com, and many other media outlets.