A vital skill for PR practitioners, online video.

Many of us have taken Online Media here at the Cronkite School and some of us, like myself, are currently taking it. We learn how to do audio slide shows, how to blog and tweet (thanks to Dr. Gilpin and her presentations), but we also learn how to create a video. I personally hated working with Final Cut for just the audio slide shows, and I don’t know how I am going to feel about the video project, but at the end of the day I know it makes me more well rounded with my skills.

In the blog Authentic PR Counsel, Krista Rodgers wrote about how online videos can work for PR. In the post, “Making the Online Video Boom Work for PR, Branding,” Rodgers discusses how people watch online videos and what the impact can be. She says it is an “incredible platform for public relations practitioners to help their clients or organization improve communication and tell stories…” Although I use sites like YouTube for watching comedic videos, it is a practical tool especially when a company decides to become more personable on the blog and turns it into a vlog (video log).

Sometimes it does get boring reading press releases or articles online and it’s an interesting and useful tactic to do a video presenting the same information, but in a different form. With all the technology we have these days from camera phones, to HD cameras, to different forms of social media, as PR practitioners, we should incorporate that into our practices.

One of the facts that Rodgers includes in her post from Comscore was that “100.9 million viewers watched 6.3 billion videos on YouTube.com (62.6 videos per viewer).” That by itself is impressive, because to me YouTube is just for young people, but I’ve come to find out, that a lot of different ages watch the news on YouTube or enjoy it just for entertainment purposes.

Rodgers relates this to PR by giving “11 online video tips,” of how to make a video impressive, insightful and work in your company’s favor.

One tip that stuck out was number eight, “supplement a news release with a video clip or link to a YouTube video to further explain your points and add personality to the organization.”

It’s important to remember that not everyone wants to read a news release. That we are constantly on the go in this society, and that it’s simple to just click a link and watch a video that is 3 minutes long. Of course, the person explaining the news has to be someone with energy and is explaining it in a simple way and not over complicating the news.

Online video is simple if you think about it. Anyone can purchase a camera, whether that be an HD handheld camera or a Flip camera. Once you purchase that you just record and can upload it to the Internet. It’s learning how to edit it and condense it to mold it into something news worthy in the PR world that may be difficult.

So as much as I am stressing out with editing my online video or audio slide show, I know that my skills can put me ahead of those that may lack them in the professional world. Do you think it’s a useful tactic to be able to turn a company’s press releases or other news, ideas or opinions into a video? Do you think YouTube is the channel to upload a company’s press releases to? Do you think it is worth it for PR majors to learn this skill?

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11 Responses to A vital skill for PR practitioners, online video.

  1. edean says:

    Nathalie-
    I agree with you on every level of this. I am happy that Cronkite teachers realize that we need these skills and are incorporating it into the curriculum. Although we’re learning video in my online media class, I still feel I have a lot to learn about video. I almost feel like we don’t take enough time to learn the subject.

    I think a big part of PR is keeping up with new ways to bring information to the pubic and video is a great way to do that. If a PR practitioner can produce good video content, it can open up a whole new line of communication. I also agree with Rogers that the online video boom is here to stay. It is our job to tell stories, I feel being able to efficiently edit video can add creatively and personality to a story that would otherwise just be uploaded form someone else.

  2. bgansar says:

    I think it is very important for PR practitioners not to forget that our audiences (most people) are visual-people. Not everyone can get the same effect from reading a news release as they do from watching a vlog. So yes, it is important that we have some sense as PR practitioners of how to make a video and post it somewhere. Times are changing and the fact that we have the ability to use media this way is great! It just broadens our horizons and makes things more interesting. No more boring press releases! Videos are so much more fun (and work-but totally worth it).

  3. ekozak says:

    This concept seems very similar to the idea of the social media release introduced in our public relations campaigns course. By blending a traditional press release with social media tools, public relations practitioners can deliver a more impactful message and simultaneously deliver additional content such as images and videos, and background information via links.

    I think it is important for PR professionals to understand the process behind creating an online video package so they know what can be done with video. However, I think it is unrealistic to assume that a PR practitioner has the time to learn the equipment and programs to an extent where they can produce work that is of great enough quality that it can be distributed to stakeholders.

    I believe the PR professional’s role should be in coming up with the ideas and setting the stage, but the actual shooting and editting should be outsourced to professionals with more experience (or if a PR professional is so inclined, he or she can create a niche for Web-mediated PR with an emphasis on online videos and can focus on that). Although a video is much more interesting than a tradtional press release, if it is crafted in an unprofessional manner, the organization might lose credibility with its stakeholders.

    Ultimately, organizations come to PR professionals because of our networking and communication expertise. I would hesitate to use online video for my clients unless I know I can deliver a product that demonstrates my expertise and skill when compared to others in the field.

  4. sdoyle says:

    While I agree that online media is perhaps one of the most stressful and frustrating course in the Cronkite curriculum and perhaps has the largest learning curve, sometimes even amongst the class instructors, is a totally worthwhile course. I may question you strategy for taking both online media and PR campaigns at the same time, because towards the end of the semester when both big projects are due, you may hate your life. When the huge stress ball is finally lifted from your shoulders and you have a second to step back and look at what you’ve accomplished you will find your skills to be very useful. Not only will having these skills put you ahead of the pack in the job market, it will keep you there after that. I was fortunate, though didn’t think so at the time, to take my online media class before my two major PR classes. When in PR writing we had to put together a website for our final presentation I was able to create a website from scratch in Dreamweaver. After looking at the gaping hole I had in my website when I was finished with my information, I was able to whip up an audio slideshow in no time to fill and complement the website. I know in my future jobs these skills will help me immensely when I pitch something and create a video of sorts to showcase it. No, I do not have master video skills, and would hope in a major campaign my video would really only be a jumping off point but I know that that is what will get me noticed and my ideas heard. I think turning more things into video is a great idea, people’s attention span is getting shorter and shorter, and a video is a way to really capture and hold on to it. I hope more videos are integrated in the future.

  5. ncano says:

    Emily – I agree with you that even though taking Online Media is great, we do have to learn more with our video skills. It wouldn’t be smart to put on a resume that you do know Final Cut, when really you just know a small part of it.

    Brittany – I couldn’t agree with you more that times are changing. We’re entering a new world of social media and different communication tools that can make our job a lot more effective.

    Erin – You’re right that we can’t assume that a PR practitioner has the skills to create a video, but if one does, then it just is an extra skill that can be helpful and useful because one doesn’t have to hire out, but can keep the work within. I agree with you on the fact that a video or another form of media has to be used professionally and not thrown in there just because. It has to have a reason to be used in that manner.

    Samantha – Trust me, I didn’t want to take online media so late in the semester, but with graduation around the corner it was the last class to take along with campaigns. I wanted to take it two semesters ago with Law, but unfortunately was told not to. I think Online Media is teaching me valuable lessons with different software, I also believe I knew how to create a web site by my sophomore year at ASU through another class I took not related to the Cronkite program. I agree with you that the online media class does help you in building different skills that you can use when you enter the working world. It’s important to have these skills even if you’re not a master, because you can help someone in the company you work for that may need a different perspective with an online video or podcast.

  6. wwillis says:

    I admit that I resisted the power of editing videos for online use. I hated learning final cut pro and other programs that would enable me to put videos into an acceptable web form. I also agree with earlier comments that our online media class is infuriatingly difficult due to emerging media forms, but is probably one of the most worthwhile classes we can participate in. I am already using the skills I learned in class and applying them to my internship. If a PR student knows how to edit and make video, they stand out from other applicants, giving them a leg up in this difficult job market.

  7. kinoshita says:

    Natalie-

    Great topic and so relevant to what we are going through. Your post was right on. Today, companies aren’t looking for someone to be great in one area but be knowledgeable and capable in a variety of areas. In your words, well-rounded. Without a doubt, PR practitioners can only benefit from knowing how to shoot and edit videos.

    I don’t think I would say YouTube is “the” channel to upload to. Limiting yourself to one outlet for anything can be dangerous and narrow-minded . The video doesn’t need to be on every site, but targeting specific Web sites with tailored audiences you are trying to reach is hugely beneficial. YouTube is a good place to start just because of its sheer visibility, but may not be the most effective.

    I just finished developing, shooting and editing my very first video as well. It was challenging but not impossible like I initially thought. I opened Final Cut Pro for the first time last week-intimidating. I couldn’t even figure out how get my footage from the camera to the program! Talk about beginner. By the end of my second session though I was catching on, and it wasn’t so scary anymore. I’m confident that if my future boss asked me to shoot and edit a video, in the most basic of forms, I could accomplish the feat, whereas before I would’ve run to the bathroom crying. I wouldn’t consider myself video savvy by any means, but I can include Final Cut Pro under experience on my resume.

  8. bjohnson says:

    Very good thoughts. There are a few things I want to discuss. First, video is an essential tool in PR. Long gone are the days of only broadcast students who film and edit- we must take control of video too. I just had a meeting with a PR account supervisor and she told me that video has helped her clients tremendously. A journalist may not be able to (or want for that matter) to read through a boring press release, but give them video, and their task becomes enjoyable.

    Second, everything is on the Web and with the Web more platforms become wanted. Sure, people read content but I feel that we’ve been trained as consumers to gravitate toward audio, picture slide shows, video clips, etc.

    The task might seem daunting but it is necessary to hone the visual skills just as much as the textual.

  9. ncano says:

    Kimberly – Sidenote: you spelled my name wrong, but that’s okay. It just has a tricky H in it.

    I agree with you, Youtube is not a channel for the media per say. It’s a exactly what you said, it gets a video great exposure, but as a PR practitioner I believe you are looking to tailor your message to a certain audience that probably isn’t spending time on Youtube googling at work certain hilarious videos. Granted, Youtube does have educational videos on there that are related to PR (Dr. G had us watch a couple during our first week reading. ) I’ll be editing my video this week and I know the frustration, but at the same time I will be happy if the product at the end is something I want and will allow me to add Final Cut Pro to my skills on my resume as well.

    Britnee – That’s some really good insight! Thanks for sharing. I know how stressful it can be for journalist to edit and look over a press release, because they spend so much time reading and writing, that sending a video isn’t boring, but something to mix up their daily tasks.

    I couldn’t agree with you more about gravitating toward audio, pictures, video. I would much rather do that and get my news from those elements than reading an article. It’s helpful since I am a visual person.

  10. bihrig says:

    I hated online media when I took it. I understood why we needed to learn it. I wanted to learn it. But we just didn’t have enough time to learn anything well enough to go and use it on our own. Personally, I love YouTube and watching video’. Anytime an organization posts a video on their Facebook page or Twitter, I watch it. I think people are more likely to watch a video and retain information then reading an entire press release or article. I agree that reading can get very boring.

    I think video’s are a great way for companies to share press release and other news but only if they take the time to make a compelling video. Video’s can be boring, so it must be appealing. Learning to use video for story telling can help any major, especially communication majors. Videos are a strong form of communication that is growing in popularity. Over all, I wish we had more time to learn about video’s.

  11. ncano says:

    Britney – I wish we did have more time to learn video. I was talking to a friend of mine about taking Online Media with a mix of all the majors and she says broadcast majors have an advantage. They know the software and obviously how to use a video camera. I think that each major should have a section of Online Media devoted to them. I think it’s a challenge to do that, but would benefit all of the majors at the Cronkite School.

    Again, I think we are all on the same page with wanting to watch a video, one that is detailed, but not long and yet is effective with their information. It would be boring if someone just read the press release and video tapped it. It has to have some type of purpose and reason to use a video release.

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