Agencies Shoot for More Video Content

Laura Gallagher
Laura Gallagher

Let’s just take a trip into the future for a moment. It’s one year from now and you’ve just received your email newsletter from Gould & Partners. Instead of reading it though, you watch it. The share buttons are there as well as “flags” for later viewing. Is this where we’re headed? More vloggers and fewer bloggers? Yes, more than likely, because video is so easy to consume. Viewers don’t have to work for it.

Video is the cornerstone of any digital strategy these days. By 2017, video will account for 69 percent of consumer internet traffic, per Cisco, while Facebook predicts that within 5 years, its entire News Feed will be video stream.

Video has quickly become the most popular kid in marketing school. As smartphones and social media have merged with easy online editing tools and HD quality video, PR firms are trying to integrate video into their wheelhouse.

Previously, agencies hired a video production company to create client videos. Script development and story were left in the agency’s hands but shooting and post-production were handled by the experts. This process could take weeks if not months from start to finish, with a price tag of $10,000, $20,000 or more.

Today, agencies are able to shoot and post an unedited video in minutes, or even go “live” with apps like Facebook and Periscope at a fraction of the cost. In early 2014 we produced a parallax video, an animation technique in which the background images move by the camera slower than foreground images. But less than two years later, that technique is considered passé.

Now, we’re able to embed video onto websites and banner ads and give the video a cinematic quality. The cost will increase comparable to the sophistication of the production, but the sharper the video the bigger impact with your audiences. The real beauty of building video content is that it plays right into the “publish once, distribute many,” meaning shoot one video but then slice and dice it six ways to Sunday. This could be short clips (60 seconds to two minutes) distributed on myriad PR and marketing channels.

Because equipment and skill has caught up with technology and social sharing tools, agencies are asking whether or not they should invest in their own video production equipment. The questions have changed. Here are several that agency owners and managers need to ask themselves before investing real money into producing video content/campaigns:

> How fast can you get the “news” out?
> How will you share it? On the client’s website (to drive traffic to the point of user conversion), social media channels, YouTube?
> Who will shoot it?
> Will you hire a video production company or a freelancer?
> Will you do it in-house?
> Will you use your iPhone or should you invest in a great camera, microphone and lighting?
> Should you have an in-house photography and video studio at your PR firm?

We answered “yes” to the last question. Our Art Director wasn’t fully billable but she’s got a great eye and quite a bit of experience behind the lens. For a short time, we rented her equipment but quickly realized, we could turn this into a revenue stream for the agency and provide the quality control we’ve always longed for.

It should be in every PR firm's wheelhouse.
It should be in every PR firm’s wheelhouse.

For an investment of roughly $3,000, you can have your own photography and video studio. This enables you to create fresh content for your clients’ websites, social media channels and other marketing vehicles. How many times have you been in the trenches and the client’s photography library doesn’t have what you need? This answers that problem, as well.

We were able to purchase a camera, lenses, backdrops, strobe flash lights, flat panels, umbrellas, stands, lamps, triggers and a Nikon D5500 DX-format Digital SLR camera with the budget mentioned above.

Video editing equipment varies from free to pricey but it’s easily available. Adobe Premiere Pro ($20/Month as a stand alone software option) is what we use at The Creative Company. Apple’s Final Cut Pro X is $299. And there are countless free tools like WonderShare, Splice made by Go Pro and iMovie.

Naturally, if you need anything special—such as the documentary we produced last year on behalf of one of the nation’s largest food cooperatives—you’re going to want to outsource. We hired a Telly and Emmy Award winning team to help shoot, edit and produce the video. But day-to-day needs, such as using Facebook Live, video blogs, company announcements and producing news channels for clients, are best left for in-house executives.

Of course, creativity trumps all. You can have great shooting equipment and terrific software but without a solid story (and talent), the message will fall flat. So what are you doing in this area? Investing? Waiting? Outsourcing? A combination of all of the above?

With video content inching closer to the core of marketing communications, agency owners now have to wear the director’s hat in more ways than one.

Laura Gallagher is the founder of The Creative Company. She can be reached at  [email protected]

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