By definition, the practice of public relations involves maintaining communication with an entity’s publics. This typically includes primary audiences like investors, consumers, and employees. As companies explore additional communication forums, public relation teams have added the likes of bloggers, video aggregator visitors, and social networking users to the list of people to talk to. Video content, in particular, affords PR professionals the ability to make a lasting impression on their publics. Online video is also easily syndicated and repackaged so messages will have a broad reach and present a united front.
Segmenting and Viral Content
Incorporating public relations into an online video strategy will help clients formulate how to target messages to their various audiences. Taking into account that investors care about different information than consumers, and employees require an entirely separate communications strategy, PR efforts can help guide overall marketing plans to ensure the right messages reach the right audiences.
Video — more than most formats — has the potential to evolve into a viral campaign. Knowing that users can pass along your video should hold marketers to a higher standard. Campaigns need to be well thought out and ultimately reflect favorably back on your brand. Extra steps can include linking out to appropriate pages to drive traffic and increase brand awareness. It can also translate into taking care during the production phase to ensure that messaging is appropriate so it resonates with different audience segments.
Tracking is important in any campaign. In public relations, it can be the difference between a setback and a crisis. By monitoring how users react to a video while it’s being circulated, public relations professionals can try to head off negative reactions. Nothing seems to travel faster than people spreading bad publicity. Look beyond the analytics dashboard to keep an on the success or failure of a video campaign, and that includes visiting the sites where videos are posted to get a better sense of how they are being received. PR teams will then be in a better place to deal with any backlash.
Learning from the mistakes of the public defamation of once beloved brands, it seems there may be a few predictors of impending criticism. While it’s virtually impossible to foresee every repercussion, wouldn’t it be nice if marketing and public relations departments had as much warning as possible? If companies can identify procedures to help sidestep potential landmines, they will be in a more prepared place to formulate public responses.
A good example of how brands can use online video in dire times is JetBlue’s response after a string of cancelled flights and customer service issues. In a video created exclusively for the Web, JetBlue’s CEO calmly addresses how his company plans to ensure similar problems do not reoccur. His candor in outlining the actions to be taken in the subsequent seven days was well received by the online community.
Ease of Syndication
A public relations plan’s end goal is to ultimately get people talking about a brand in a favorable light. Online video can be an effective way to sparking discussions among users, but this approach will only work if the content can be easily syndicated. Consumers have a network of peers they can tap into online via formats like microblogs, social networks, or e-mail. However, public relations practitioners can encourage this dissemination by creating buzz around it and making it readily transferable among users.
The truism that communication is the cornerstone of any relationship certainly applies to public relations and marketing. By using the Internet to keep in contact with their audiences, companies can receive direct feedback and increase their ability to monitor how users receive their messages. On the flip side, the Web makes it difficult to underemphasize missteps because content tends to have an extended shelf life online. It is more important to guard your brand where the blogosphere and backlash can be fierce and news cycles are longer. In the end, the most important thing that marketers and PR professionals can do is listen to feedback and try and stay one step ahead of the game.
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