While modern PR offers the core benefit of helping steward brand reputation and growth, publicity remains the most tangible marker used by companies to point to a successful result. Media placements help justify the ongoing investment in a communication strategy informed by data, yes, but is also what maintains a field position that relies heavily on consumer intuition, collaboration and creative ideation over paid media’s more straightforward projections and metrics.
With a shrinking set of editorial opportunities and the rise of sponsored content, affiliate requirements and the now-ubiquitous phone as a non-stop entertainment device for our increasingly hop, skip and jump minds, communication professionals have a new two-fold task. First, a curiosity toward reimagining the media placement entirely, and second, the seemingly daunting task of convincing clients of the validity and value of this new definition.
In the immediate, if we evolve beyond simply pitching digital and developing feed-based social content strategies to drive engagement, and instead embrace the full possibility of video-based owned and earned media, the landscape opens up once more to reveal an expansive playground from which to put brand messaging and interaction front and center. If done well, brands can extend the value and interest in existing company products, services and programs.
In particular, the use of live streaming, from both an earned and owned media perspective, provides valuable opportunities to extend reach, build rapport and support marketing and PR initiatives authentically. A study from Research and Markets found the video streaming market is projected to be worth $70 billion by 2021, with live-streaming video to be a major means for media outlets to stay in the game.
A new way to work with publications
As media companies are tasked with developing the nimbleness and flexibility required to compete for eyeballs and ad dollars, so comes the rise of new, video-based content and promotional opportunities for brands.
At NewFronts in May, Refinery29 announced the forthcoming launch of CHANNEL29, an on-demand video destination and the expansion of original video programming, as well as key partnerships such as Daydream by Google, an in-depth study with CBS NEWS and more. Over the last year, the company has seen a 720 percent increase in watch time on YouTube, as well as a 132 percent rise in audience engagement on Instagram.
In a PR Couture article specific to Facebook Live, Ximena Beltran, Founder of C1 Revolution, explained that media companies are putting budget behind video content, and in some cases, are being incentivized by Facebook to do so. Pitching a client for an in-person or remote interview delivered in a live-streaming format not only gives clients the opportunity for longer, more in-depth airtime than the standard few minutes given during a broadcast segment, but these types of opportunities can be easier to secure, and happen more quickly, than pitching the print or digital editor for coverage.
Drive anticipation with access
Of course, companies don’t need to secure an opportunity with the social media editor of a lifestyle publication’s Facebook page in order to take advantage of live video on Facebook or Instagram. According to data from quintly, Facebook videos filmed live on the platform drive nearly double the engagement of videos on YouTube and Instagram, with a significantly higher organic reach. Benefit Cosmetics’ weekly live show on Facebook draws in more than 25,000 views on each show, and hundreds — sometimes thousands — of comments and shares.
Jaclyn Johnson, CEO of Create + Cultivate, and host of the podcast Work Party (and author of the book of the same name), regularly hops onto Instagram live to answer career and business questions in support of the book and new podcast episodes, providing followers with the opportunity to ask their burning questions while demonstrating her expertise and accessibility. Jamie Jensen, host of the podcast Creative Making Money, follows up each live episode with a live “After Party” on Facebook featuring that week’s guest for a deeper dive and opportunity for listeners to ask follow-up questions. Jensen explained that this content bonus “gives listeners a chance to hear from me in addition to guests, engages listeners on multiple platforms, and provides me additional listener data unavailable through iTunes, as well as retargeting opportunities, making it way easier to hit those ‘seven touches’ potential customers typically need before they make a purchase.”
Tailor content to consumer preference
That same study from Research and Markets also discovered that 80 percent of those surveyed prefer live video to reading a blog, and four times as many respondents would rather watch a video about a product or service than read about it. As sad as this may seem to those of us who consider ourselves die-hard readers, it supports our ever-changing consumer behaviors and lifestyle as well as a switch in strategy when it comes to influencer outreach and digital placements. While knowing where your ideal customer avatar/profile is getting their news from has always been engrained in PR pros, it is an even more critical skill nowadays with the variety of platforms available in this digital era.
While the idea of an Instagram Takeover isn’t novel anymore, the Instagram Live feature does give those taking over accounts the chance to connect more deeply with new audiences on a dynamic and responsive level. Danielle Thur, VP of Lifestyle & Entertainment Brands at Rogers & Cowan concurs, noting that “an Instagram takeover of a top outlet can be just as beneficial as an editorial story.”
Extend the value of event programming
Local businesses with an event or programming component can also benefit from live streaming. Shop Good, a clean beauty shop based in San Diego, regularly streams educational programming through Instagram. Founder Leah Kirpalani explained, “we feel live streaming builds our community by placing value and education as a top priority. It’s one of the key pillars of our business. With only about 20 percent of our Instagram audience based locally, offering this free content builds loyalty and nationwide engagement with our brand, ultimately increasing overall conversion.”
As communication strategy becomes more comprehensive and sophisticated, companies who embrace a diverse new media mix will find natural areas of connection and engagement by showing up with compelling and shareable content served up just the way consumers like it; which, increasingly, means considering fully the use of video for brand storytelling, audience participation and strategic support for other ventures.
Crosby Noricks is founder and director of PR Couture and lecturer at California State University San Marcos and San Diego State University.