Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Don't cut the (video) budget

The recent video campaign by Megan Fox and others to prevent major cuts in California's school budget illustrates several points that PR pros need to make when advising in favor of a video.

And, when to use celebrities.

Companies and associations are frequently advised to produce a video for a product, issue or initiative to accentuate a public relations campaign. This is only a recent opportunity with the advent of YouTube.

Yet, too often the advice is to go cheap. Cheap means low production qualities, such as a hand-held digital video camera that makes a shot jumpy along with poor lighting and sound quality. Or, worse, post a video from your Web cam. All these contribute to fewer views, no real connection with your audience and, worse, a lousy brand reputation.

Consider the Megan Fox-CA budget cut video. This was a quality production with good actors, professional lighting and sound, ideal editing and a good script. There is a director, a good location, props and more. Sure - many folks (include Megan) donated their time for this cause. Chances are, a corporate video will need to pay for actors.

The point is clear and simple - good production values result in a better image, captures the audience and delivers the message.

As public relations professionals, we must advocate for higher quality videos. There are plenty of sound reasons to argue for a $10,000 or greater video budget. The return on this investment is easy to calculate, not just by number of views. There are plenty of places to find ROI information to build a convincing budget argument. It also helps to use a video production company that will help you build your case for an adequate budget. YouTube has its own blog on this.

And, most importantly, the PR pro must do what they do best in these cases - analyze the audience and the message to make sure they line up perfectly for the client, or company. I cringe every time when a mid-level manager at a company suggests, "Let's do a YouTube video" for a project without any thought given to:

  • Is this appropriate for the overall strategy?
  • Who are we targeting with this video?
  • What do we want this video to say or do?
  • Do we know whether our audience will even connect via video?
Or, when someone says, "We need to get a celebrity" for our video or campaign.

The education script worked with Megan because she had an important message to say and they injected the right level of humor. But many times, celebrities don't work. If you need help figuring out why (or "when"), go talk with Rita Tateel at the Celebrity Source.

So, now have fun looking at Megan Fox again.