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Should PR Be Responsible for Creating – and Promoting – Online Videos?

PR creates video, public relations video marketingAs companies look to create more video content for marketing, public affairs and other communications functions, a range of agencies are competing for their business.

In the past, ad agencies typically managed video production, but the internet and social media have upended the traditional ad agency model and blurred long-standing divisions between advertising, public relations and video production. Ad agencies, consulting firms, social media companies as well PR firms are fighting for the leading role in the new script.

While PR firms face tough competition, many believe PR agencies and in-house PR departments have key advantages. In the pre-Facebook days, ad agencies had the advantage.

Most video are now shared through social media. Most videos shared on Instagram, Facebook and other networks are short clips that rely on sharing to create an audience. Organic sharing also greatly amplifies longer YouTube videos.

It Makes Sense for PR to Lead Video Production

“In that context, then, it makes sense for PR agencies to increasingly lead the creative and production process,” writes Nelson Granados, executive director of the Institute for Entertainment, Media, Sports, and Culture at Pepperdine Graziadio Business School, in Forbes.

PR can tap its storytelling expertise to create compelling video content. In addition, PR pros are naturally suited to networking with bloggers and social media influencers to amplify content.

More brands are bypassing ad agencies and bringing video production in-house in an effort to gain greater creative control and reduce costs, says Evelyn Timson, managing director UK-based video production company Aspect Film and Video.

Ad agencies traditionally act as middlemen and outsource the task to video production firms, Timson explains in Business 2 Community. However, the demand for more videos for Facebook, Instagram and YouTube coupled with corporate cost-cutting leaves little room for that traditional ad agency model and its high overhead. In response, ad agencies have brought video production in-house to provide the service directly to clients.

Some ad agencies and corporate video production departments may create their own videos but turn to PR agencies to promote the content organically. Trying to change that model are PR firms that now operate their own studios, and collaborate with brands to produce video content. For instance, the PR agency Praytell launched its own studio, Praytell Films.

“PR agencies shouldn’t only amplify content from other shops,” Praytell founder Andy Pray told Granados. “There are times when we should be producing it, integrating the work into holistic communications campaigns that deliver across the earned, owned, and paid spectrum.”

More PR firms will likely bring video production skills in-house. They’ll put expert scriptwriters, directors and videographers on their payroll to avoid looking like mere middlemen. PR agencies and in-house PR departments, however, will have a hard time wresting budget authority and creative responsibility from product management and marketing which have traditionally funded video production within major corporations. In most cases, product management and marketing better understand product positioning and messaging – and have well-established contacts with content experts.

Video for Media Placements

PR has little choice but to embrace video creation and video marketing to thrive in the new digital landscape. Print publications offer just a fraction of their previous circulations and coverage and continue to wither. Online news outlets have also cut back recently. Those that survive now often emphasize video. Consumers, especially young people, prefer to view information and entertainment through video rather than print. And that preference will only continue to increase.

Video production has become a powerful tool for gaining online media coverage, points out Michael Sadowski, head of marketing & Communications at Intrepid Group in North America. More online newsrooms employ video editors who edit b-roll videos and embed them into the body of written stories, Sadowski writes in Forbes. Those embedded videos help improve search engine results, reach and social sharing, and ultimately lead to more interesting and engaging news.

In addition to using b-roll video, the online video editors rely heavily on story-centric video content that is turnkey and almost ready to publish. PR teams that furnish that kind of video gain a clear advantage in making online media placements.

To get traction in video production, PR must bring creative story ideas and media placement plans to brand managers and those in marketing who control the budgets and can authorize projects. Most brand managers welcome new ideas to promote their products – and are willing to shake free dollars to implement them. One way to develop story ideas: Ask the brand manager about marketing pain points, target audiences and new developments.

Bottom Line: Because of their storytelling abilities and promotional skills, PR professionals are well-suited to lead the video creation and marketing process. Since more videos are shared on social media, PR’s central skill in promoting media content has become paramount in creating successful online video campaigns and securing media placements.