Video Killed the Press Release Star


A decade ago, I told a nonplussed supervisor that the future of public relations would be in creative. She had good reason to doubt my forecast. For every enthusiastic proclamation I got right (“Twitter is going to be huge. Reporters are going to love this!), I got many more spectacularly wrong (“RSS feeds are the future of news publishing!” “Digg is going to be your new home page! “Facebook’s ubiquity will dilute partisanship around the world!”)

In this case, though, the prediction was prescient.

Only 27 percent of agency leaders think “public relations” will adequately describe the work they do five years from now, according to a new USC Annenberg study. This dramatic shift isn’t so shocking to firms that started offering creative services with communication programs years ago.

Many larger agencies bolted on creative departments to their organizations, offering infographics, websites, or videos to augment their PR. At Sterling Communications, though, we took a risk at the beginning of the decade to integrate the creative process into all client public relations activities.

Our goal was simple (if not exactly easy): Amplify client PR programs with strategic creative projects. Graphic design, web development, and video production were to be part of larger campaigns. They were means to an end, and as such crafted from the beginning to raise awareness, increase engagement, and help bond brands and fans together.

We’ve had some significant successes, but one type of creative project has stood out among the rest.


Industry statistics might give you a hint:

  • Fifty-nine percent of executives would rather watch video than read text, according to Forbes.
  • It is 50 times easier to achieve a page one ranking on Google with a video, according to Forrester Research.
  • Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it in text, according to Insivia.
  • Four times as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it, according to Animoto.

But think about it from an emotional level. Public relations has always been about being seen, understood, and wanted. Telling stories on video helps companies connect with audiences in richer, deeper, and more lasting ways than mere words or even images.

Explainer videos educate more efficiently. Interview videos persuade more powerfully. Narrative videos motivate more memorably. Video, produced properly, conveys a brand’s value and promise with greater effectiveness than just about any other medium or method.

That’s why we make videos about real hoverboards, digital globes, embedded software, developer conferences, and security breaches — and just about anything else clients need publicized.

Short of hiring an agency to integrate video into your PR and marketing plans (ahem), how can you begin integrating video into your marketing and PR programs? Here are three steps to start your journey:

1. Take inventory. What do you already possess in terms of visual assets? YouTube videos of past events, media clips from TV news coverage, and footage of old conferences make an excellent start. By assessing what you already have, you may be able to augment your PR efforts with video right away. Try adding visual assets to your press kit or wiring a release with an explanatory video showcasing your product line.

2. Commit to capture. You don’t need to have a full-fledged film crew on staff. But when your spokespeople or representatives from your PR/marketing team attend events, they should be competent in capturing video and other visual assets that can be propagated throughout your digital marketing campaigns. That may mean sharing video in real time or it may mean capturing raw footage to edit into a refined package later. Either way, by taking every opportunity to digitally record those important moments, you’re able to leverage that content for your brand.

3. Get Creative. Everyone suffers from information overload these days, so pitches need to rise above the din. One of the best ways to stand out is by integrating visual media. Doing this well requires some deliberation. Review your campaign and extract those parts of your messaging that could be better expressed in a more visual or interactive format. Fine-tune this methodology to suit your circumstances, but take every opportunity to use video to elevate your story.

If you have a few seconds now, check out Sterling’s sizzle reel. If you have a few minutes, watch more Sterling videos we scripted, directed, and edited. Most of all, however, get shooting. Your audiences — and your finances — will thank you.

Kawika Holbrook is Vice President of Creative at Sterling Communications. You can follow him on Twitter at @kawika.