On Wednesday Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos chose to talk about the Zappos deal on YouTube. By speaking directly to the public, and bypassing the press, Bezos was able to assure that his key messages were clearly articulated. The video spread quickly via social media, and became a part of the story in the traditional media.
There is little doubt that online video is exploding. The July issue of the BurrellesLuce e-newsletter, devoted to online video, notes that according to comScore’s Video Metrix, published in June 2009, 78.6 percent of all Internet users viewed online video during the month of April 2009 (16.8 billion videos), a 34.5 percent increase in video consumption from April of 2008.
The rapid growth of online video provides public relations professionals new opportunity to engage the public and media. Tuesday I moderated a PR News webinar, “How to (Really) Leverage YouTube for PR,” designed to help PR practitioners use online video to take their media relations to the next level. Anthony Allen, director of Digital Media for the American Society for Training and Development, provided some practical advice on creating and sharing videos. Christi Day, emerging media specialist from Southwest Airlines, shared great examples of how Southwest has been able to engage the media and audiences using online video. And Rick Wion, vice president Dialogue, GolinHarris, offered great suggestions on what organizations should be measuring.
As Rick pointed out, “Viral is not a strategy.” Effective use of online video means assuring that it is seamlessly integrated with your overall PR plan. The Jeff Bezos video provides an excellent example of how to tell a story, while simultaneously aligning the video to key messages. While it took Bezos nearly six minutes to mention Zappos, he was quick to talk about the company’s core values; a customer centric philosophy, constant invention/innovation and long-term focus.
With that said, the Bezos video was not without its critics. Is eight minutes too long for an online audience? Why did it take six minutes to get to the news viewers were waiting to hear? Was the quality of the video lackluster?
As business communicators, we all have a lot to learn about how to harness the full potential of online video. Back in February of 2007, Doug Simon, president of D S Simon, noted in his welcoming vlog post: “In two years, websites and blogs without video will be the exception, rather than the rule.” Today, online video has become an essential element in communications plans and is an important part of what we monitor for our clients.
Be sure to check out these tips for using online video from BurrellesLuce. How do you incorporate online video into your PR plan?