Edelman Engage

PR and Video: Time to be Bold



Say video to a public relations professional and most recoil with a mixture of confusion and fear. The accepted thinking is that advertising firms do video, PR firms do words.

That’s been true for most of the last 50 years. The commercial break has dominated brand engagement: huge production teams making glitzy 30 second spots to drive a message around perfume, cars or insurance. Something many in the industry would consider far removed from PR.

Fast forward to today. Companies and brands can now distribute videos via owned platforms and social media.

They are no longer prohibited by the costs and restrictions of the prime-time commercial break. From six-second Vines to full-length feature films, they’ve proven they can act like media companies. Many of their efforts have focused on longer-form storytelling.

In public relations, we’ve always put storytelling front and center. It’s been key to winning media coverage for our clients. We also help companies develop their own “Master Narratives.”

In the world of YouTube, it’s real stories about real people that reign supreme. The site is flooded with users documenting their lives and thoughts. It could be a victim of bullying in England or a man filming a riot in India. Fiction doesn’t seem to be enough anymore. Brands and companies have leveraged this trend.

Authenticity is another factor that plays to our skill-set. Like journalists, we are experts in showing people the way the world is, rather than constructing an alternate reality.

All of which derails previous thinking around who should help clients produce video. Online content that tells an authentic story in two minutes is a world away from a 30 second ad.

In this new reality, our talents as public relations professionals are in demand. We just need to understand how video has changed. And be bolder about our abilities.

Arun Mahtani is chief content officer, Asia Pacific. Follow Arun on Twitter.

Image by jsawkins.
  • The power of video is undeniable – especially at motivating viewers emotionally – something that’s crucial to changing minds and attitudes. Video production is within everyone’s reach now. The hard part is getting the art and craft of it right, something that takes experience and careful thought.

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