There was no audit of past video content and previous outcomes to see what worked and what did not work. Unfortunately, videos were created without an understanding of past engagement and the kind of content that created impact through a clear Call-To-Action (CTA).
The resources were not thoroughly considered, from people and process to technology and equipment that would have produced your video on time and under budget.
The role of the Video Director was not filled. No one on your team (including yourself) stepped up to fill this position. Every good video, even the informal ones, needs a director. On the surface, filling the role requires someone who is flexible, decisive, a creative storyteller and a good communicator.
Your video messaging did not pick up on what your customers were thinking and feeling. They were geared toward what the company leadership wanted to convey. The messaging did not help to solve customer problems or make their work lives better and happier. As a result, you didn’t spark their passion.
You didn’t identify and involve your internal brand champions (employees). Taking the time to uncover these colleagues and what they care about in your content creates instant alignment with your brand. When there’s employee involvement, there’s investment and the external sharing ramps up.
There was no thought process behind what creates momentum and the channels where it would occur. There was no consideration of the content people are looking for, need to know, interested to learn, and where they want to receive your content that has an emotional and a relatable appeal.
- Competitive Intelligence
- Empowering Women
- FEEL Model
- Guest Post
- Integrated Communications
- Media Relations
- Media Relations
- Media Training
- Organizational Behavior
- PR 2.0
- PR 2.0 Technology
- PR Job Search
- PR Practice
- Public Relations
- Resume Writing
- Social Good
- Social media
- Social Media Planning
- Social Media Policy
- Strategic Communications
When I teamed up with Professor Jennie Donohue last year, we wanted to create an assignment for her UMASS at Amherst Intro to PR class that was an opportunity for students to create content based on what they learned during the semester. The question quickly became, “should it be another blog post contest?”
In the spirit of students and professionals being PR Tech Testers, we thought it would be a much more interesting assignment for students to create videos based on what they learned in class.
After reading my latest book, “Answers for Modern Communicators,” each student was tasked with creating a short educational video sharing tips and insights based on one of three communication practices – i.e., media relations, strategic communication/integrated marketing communication, or employee communication – that related to class content.
We selected two winners. Winner #1 is (drumroll please) … Wei Cai, who is an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Winner #2 will be announced next week.
Wei’s academic studies are in journalism, consumer technology, and resource economics; he is passionate about the intersections of the fields. If you want to learn more about Wei, you can follow him on Twitter at @weicai_.
Here is Wei’s winning video. Let’s congratulate and support Wei by sharing his video on social media!
A Guest Post By Emma MacKenzie, American University Graduate Student & PR Expanded Blog Contest Winner
High-quality images are key to most marketing and communications campaigns, but it can be expensive to hire photographers. How can a small organization with limited resources produce quality images? This was a question I had to answer at a very small nonprofit in rural Uganda where the annual operating budget for my department was about $10,000.00.
For me, the only answer to this question was to be the organization’s official photographer. My pictures were used in our social media, on our website, and in promotional materials sent to donors. I had to bring my A-game and produce pictures as close to professional quality as I could. I did this using three key elements: good equipment, education, and editing software. These elements came together in four quick tips that I used as a photographer.
The right camera can make a world of difference, especially for someone who has limited experience with photography. A good quality DSLR camera can be very expensive, but if your organization needs to have a constant flow of pictures, consider it an investment. If you take proper care of a DSLR camera it will last for years.
Currently, the most popular companies are Canon and Nikon, where a DSLR camera will cost between $400-$3,000. If your organization only needs a camera once a year, try renting equipment from a local camera shop.
Your phone is another piece of photography equipment to choose wisely. Phone cameras are always improving with each new release and if you know how to use different functions on your camera app you can take truly beautiful pictures and videos with . This is especially helpful with the rise of Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Instagram Stories, and SnapChat.
Editing is what takes a single picture from ho-hum to stunning. Adobe Photoshop is the big name when it comes to photo editing software, but it can be expensive for a small company.
Photoshop was designed with professional photographers in mind and can be daunting to a beginner. I took an introductory course on how to use Photoshop and it only scratched the surface of what the program can do. If your organization is able to cover the cost of photoshop I would highly recommend taking some classes on how to use this software.
In 2007 Adobe launched new software called Lightroom which offers editing and cloud storage at a much lower rate. They also have an app so you can switch from editing on your computer to your smartphone with ease and for only $9.99/month – which includes one terabyte of cloud storage.
Snapseed is Google’s answer to Lightroom and for the low, low price of free! It allows you to make edits or add filters to your pictures all from your smartphone. This is very helpful if you are taking the pictures on your phone and uploading them directly to social media. It is currently only available as a mobile app.
Practice is what will ultimately make you a better photographer. By practicing in your spare time you will begin to learn how to work with light, picture composition, and angles. It is how I picked up my top four tips for a better picture.
Rule of Thirds: imagine you are dividing your image with two vertical lines and two horizontal lines all equally spaced apart. Line up the focal point of your picture along one of those lines. This makes the image asymmetrical and, as a result, more appealing to the eye. Below you can see that the palm tree aligns with the left vertical line and the right third of the picture is left empty.
Brightness + Contrast + Sharpen: when I need to do a quick edit to a picture I only touch these three tools in my editing software. A light touch on all three goes a long way to making a picture more vibrant.
Step away from the light: try not to take pictures in direct sunlight, the result can be very harsh or overexposed. Try to find some shade where you get a soft light.
Don’t Zoom on your phone: while cameras on phones are improving, the zoom functions have their limits. The more you zoom, the more it lowers the quality of the image. If you need to zoom, try to get a telephoto clip-on lens attachments from a company like Olloclip
Achieving quality images is attainable for smaller organizations, it just takes a little research, finding the right products, and practicing I managed to go from a leisure photographer to an in-house photographer for an NGO in the course of one year. By following the strategies listed above you can also develop your own photography skills to help your organization succeed!
I started with one DSLR camera with one lens and an Olloclip for my iPhone 6s. I have since added to my camera bag by upgrading my phone to an iPhone 8+ and purchasing a macro lens for my DSLR, a tripod, a studio lightbox, and a ring light. These are new tools and skills I can now take with me to my next role.
Emma MacKenzie is a graduate student at American University in Washington, DC.
A Guest Post By Abby Bacardi, American University Student, PR Expanded Blog Post Winner
The role of technology in our digital age is more apparent than ever. We are surrounded by an overwhelming amount of social media platforms, communication channels, and mediums of interaction, making hard to differentiate our unique ideas from messages that we have already seen.
So, how do you stay creative when you are inundated with so many different platforms to promote your ideas? Of the thousands of messages that you see every day, how do you ensure that your message in interesting and fresh? How do you stay curious during a time where you have the world at your fingertips?
As a millennial who has grown up surrounded by technology, I have felt how its presence can damper our individuality. So, here are a few tips that I have learned which have helped me reclaim by curious, creative spirit.
1.) Ask Why
Instead of blindly swiping through profiles, messages, and ads on social media, stop for a minute and ask yourself why the material is presented that way. For example: Why is Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan short and concise instead of more descriptive and eloquent?
By taking just a few moments to question why people make the daily choices that they do on public platforms, you will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of their communication style and develop an eye for successful communication within your own work. By asking “why” and familiarizing yourself with the messages and tactics that others are using, you open the door to new opportunities to be creative and different.
You must know the mold to be able to break the mold.
2.) Visit a Bookstore
Humans are evolutionarily routine-oriented beings and as a result, this tunnel vision causes us to neglect opportunities and pass up experiences that are within reach. This phenomenon is exacerbated by our ever-present technology which satiates our craving for instant gratification. While the Google era ensures that we are always a click away from answering our latest question, we are much less likely to stumble upon information that is not relevant to our question and are less likely to explore after receiving our answer.
Getting out from behind the computer screen to flip through a book can not only facilitate personal growth, but it can also significantly enhance your creativity in the workplace. This intentional act of going beyond of your comfort zone and exploring the world outside of your professional field can give you a new perspective that your fellow PR professionals may not have.
By challenging yourself to do something that you would not typically do, you put yourself in a mind frame where you are more receptive to new ideas. Therefore, you will be more likely to follow an interesting thought that you would typically dismiss.
3.) Rekindle Your Inner Child!
Children are often overlooked in professional settings due to their age and lack of experience, but nobody has a larger capacity for creativity and curiosity than a child. As children’s book author Vince Gowman once said, “For every ‘Why?’ a child asks, they invite us into a different definition of reality, and ourselves.”
Children have the unique ability to leave logic and reality behind to envision endless possibilities, which can be an invaluable asset if you are in a creative rut. By simply hearing goofy, unrealistic ideas from a child, you begin to think more creatively as well. Once you begin to throw out the traditional rules of PR and start exploring other options, you can start creating unique content and begin a campaign in previously unexplored territory.
Finally, the excitement and a curiosity of a child is contagious. So, even if you don’t discover your million-dollar idea, you will feel rejuvenated and ready to hit the drawing board.
4.) Practice Unplugged Listening
Being in the business of communication, there are few things more refreshing than stimulating conversation and the exchange of thought-provoking ideas. However, the distractions of ringing phones, chiming inboxes, and dinging notifications make it difficult to have uninterrupted conversations.
When you practice unplugged listening, you become receptive to understanding different styles of communication. This increases your ability to be creative because understanding the different ways that people interact allows you to better engage your intended audience.
Additionally, when you learn more about a subject that you find interesting, you inherently become more curious and might even explore it outside of the conversation. These newfound interests then give you material that you can reference when professionally engaging with new audiences.
The ability to act creatively and operate curiously is the key component to making stand-out messages resonate with others. Although these tips may seem rudimentary, never underestimate the value of simplicity. Listen. Wonder. Imagine. Communicate. And never stop asking questions!
Abby Bacardi is going into her junior year at American University majoring in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations. She is also pursuing a double-minor in International Studies and Spanish Language. She is from Boulder, Colorado and spends her time outside of the classroom hiking, traveling, and walking her dog. You can connect with her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On March 21st, I visited Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia to interview their college president, Cecelia Fitzgibbon, on my podcast show, Women Worldwide. After the interview, I was happy to get a tour of their beautiful campus. While walking around, one of the Moore students, Ava Mallett, who is earning her BFA degree in Fine Art, was working on her exhibit, the #WhisperMoore Bench. I was immediately interested in learning more about Ava and her artwork.
I was approached by the Director of Marketing and Communications for Moore last fall about potentially creating a backdrop for the Whisper Bench (which was donated to Moore some years ago) and once I was told that the bench had an interactive sound component I knew that I was going to incorporate that aspect in the design. Part of my studio practice includes black and white line drawings, and I decided this design would best compliment the bright spring clothing passersby would be wearing in the photos if there was a black and white design to make the colors pop. I was influenced by topographical maps for the design, using undulating lines to show the reverberation of sound from the silhouettes in the piece. I wanted to have figures in the piece to give a clear visual to the public about the additional function of the bench. The #WhisperMoore tag was decided by the Marketing and Communications department after I had submitted a preliminary version of the design and I’m excited to see what the response to the bench and the design is.
I’d argue that one does not get in a creative mood, the creative nature is always under the surface and will punch you in the face through moments of inspiration. I’d say what is more important for the artist is getting into a working mood, because if you don’t work then you don’t make and the creativity and inspiration is for naught. For me to get in a working mood I’ve got to be sitting in the studio for a while mapping out what needs to get done, then putting on music or Netflix (preferably on speakers, but since I have a shared studio space it’s normally headphones) and delving straight into whatever is next on the agenda. Also making sure I have slept and fed myself somewhat recently because working on no sleep and an empty stomach is never as productive as I wish it was.
With technology advancing, consumer behavior changing and shorter attention spans, it has become increasingly difficult to build relationships. Organizations need communication professionals who have a raised creative quotient. You have to be more creative and innovative in your approach to connect and engage with audiences today.
On November 17th, the #PRStudChat community gathered to discuss the importance of Creative PR and taking the art of storytelling to a new level. Heather Whaling, president of Geben Communication and Jason Sprenger, president of Game Changer Communications led the discussion on the different ways students and professionals view and use creative in their PR campaigns.
One question focused on whether creativity is inherent, or if it can be taught. Here are several of the interesting insights our community members shared:
According to community responses, levels of creativity will vary among professionals and your environment plays an important role. At the same time, we agreed that exercising Creative PR is both valuable and a necessity today. A career in PR requires strong skills in many areas. However, social media communication adds a whole new dimension to your creative knowledge and skill set. Taking the time to increase your Creative PR quotient is one way to stand out regardless of the position or your years of experience.
What are your tips for increasing creativity and learning new ways to be creative in PR?
On Tuesday, November 17th at 8:30 p.m. ET, the #PRStudChat community will gather to discuss Creative PR and how smart PR today requires a combination of creative storytelling, powerful visual imagery and data-driven decision making.
Special guests, Heather Whaling, President of Geben Communication and Jason Sprenger, President of Game Changer Communications will lead a discussion with PR students, professionals and educators on the importance of visual storytelling that:
- Leverages data to create timely PR opportunities.
- Uses social and content to amplify media placements
- Partners with influencers to extend campaign reach.
Here’s a little more information on our PR experts:
Heather Whaling is founder/president of Geben Communication. An avid Twitter user, Heather can trace the majority of Geben’s business back to relationships that began online. This ability to turn social networking into business outcomes illustrates Geben’s contemporary approach to traditional and digital PR. After launching the company from her dining room, Heather’s fresh approach to best practices has helped Geben evolve into a highly respected, sought-after, award-winning PR firm. Geben was named the national media relations agency of the year (Ragan/PR Daily) and a top 10 agency for startups (Agency Post). Geben is also the top boutique agency in Columbus, according to Columbus CEO.
Jason Sprenger is the president of Game Changer Communications. Hw founded the agency in 2012 to help organizations propel themselves forward using the entire spectrum of public relations. Before starting Game Changer, he led North American PR for FICO and built a successful corporate PR department at data storage firm Xiotech (now called X-IO Technologies). He has also held various roles with three Twin Cities public relations firms. He has worked for a wide variety of organizations, from large to small and public to private, and has been a corporate, agency and freelance counselor. As a result, Jason has seen the PR industry from as many angles as anyone and learned how to drive success no matter what the challenge or situation.
If you have any questions about Creative PR or thoughts you would like to share in advance of the session, please tweet or DM us. We hope you’ll join us for a fun and informative Twitter chat session focused the art of creative storytelling and the best ways to improve your visual content to create more impact. “See” you on the 17th!
More About PRStudChat:
It began with a simple question asked by Angela Hernandez, then President of PRSSA at Central Michigan University (CMU). “Is PR Right for me?” A follow up blog post by PR 2.0 expert Deirdre Breakenridge inspired a series of direct messages on Twitter between Breakenridge and fellow PR industry pro, Valerie Simon. This was an important question and one that should be explored beyond one student or one blog post. Why not build a community to help students across the country, and even the globe, learn from the experience and perspective of industry professionals… A community where everyone can learn and grow together. Read more
A Guest Post by Lauren McDonald, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism Student
Every opportunity is what you make of it. In March I heard about an opportunity to visit a film set for Pioneers in Skirts™, a documentary about obstacles women still face in their careers. Given that my career aspiration is to one-day be an entertainment publicist, I jumped at the chance to meet a director and volunteer on her set.
Before I arrived I researched the film and the director, Ashley Maria. She was an alum of UNC-Chapel Hill, an award-winning director, and she had been working for three years on her documentary. During the shoot the crew made sure I was comfortable with what I was doing and encouraged me to ask questions. I was asked to pull my weight too! I took pictures and posted content to social media.
After the film shoot, I reached out to Ashley and her producer, Lea-Ann Berst, to let them know I had some free time and would be happy to help with anything that would benefit the film. They gave me small work items at first. I was sure to show them no task was too small. I looked at every assignment they gave me as an opportunity to learn more and expand my knowledge.
Eventually, after working for a few weeks on contacting reporters and creating buzz, I was offered the chance to officially work on targeted public relations for the film. I was excited to help define a role for me that allowed me to learn my trade as I helped build awareness for the film. Today, my main focus is on creating publicity on university campuses, since I am still a university student myself, and to find out how we can get more college men and women interested in the film.
What began as an amazing volunteer experience on set soon turned into an opportunity to learn what it means to be a publicist and have a platform to gain both experience and exposure. True to the mission of the film, Ashley and Lea-Ann are always encouraging me to learn things that will help me in my career!
Being a public relations volunteer on Pioneers in Skirts has given me firsthand experience into the world of publicity. I have called reporters, created buzz for the film on social media, worked on media releases and much more. This has not only helped me to build my confidence and learn firsthand what it takes to work on publicity for a film, it has also given me a platform from which to seek advice from public relation icons like Deirdre Breakenridge.
Knowing that it would benefit the film as well as my knowledge-set, I reached out to Ms. Breakenridge asking for advice on how I could increase publicity for the film. Had it not been for my being involved with Pioneers in Skirts, I would have never had the confidence to ask advice from such an established professional in the field. Oh boy, did that confidence pay off: before I knew it I was having a phone conversation with Ms. Breakenridge and she was interested in helping me increase awareness for the film. Before Pioneers in Skirts, it would have seemed unimaginable to have the opportunity to speak with a top PR professional!
The one piece of advice I have for any college student or recent graduate looking for opportunities is this: never overlook any opportunity. My role in Pioneers in Skirts began as a student volunteer hoping to learn more about what goes into making a documentary. This led to me writing about Ashley Maria for Her Campus Chapel Hill, from which we both benefited. I had the privilege to write about the film and add the piece to my resume, and Ashley Maria had the opportunity to share her story with college women.
Pioneers in Skirts is a documentary that aims to make a social impact. None of the team behind Pioneers in Skirts are paid. It’s a passion project for every person involved. I know from speaking with many of my peers that many college students will only do work that is paid. While for some I know this is a necessity, for others it has more to do with ego.
I say: don’t discount any opportunity because you think you are too good, or you don’t think you will learn anything. The more exposure and experience you have, the better. Being successful is all about networking and being willing to do whatever it takes. Never underestimate where volunteering to work on a project you are passionate about may lead. Professionals want to see that you love what you are doing and have the drive and ambition to do whatever it takes to make it.
If you had told me last March when I stepped foot onto the set of Pioneers in Skirts that I would be doing PR for the film two months later I would have never believed you. That is the crazy thing about life and opportunities: they don’t always present themselves as life changing events. So make sure you make the most of every opportunity you are given, and one day you will find that every step you took, no matter how small, led you to where you are today.
Lauren McDonald is a UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism student majoring in Public Relations. She is part of an all-volunteer team making an innovative documentary film called Pioneers in Skirts™. The filmmakers are professionals – the Director is a DGA winner. Lauren’s focus is within the university segment, and as one of the film’s targeted segments is “educated women who are starting out in their careers,” the filmmakers plan to screen the film at universities across the U.S.