Why Aren’t PR Firms Leading on Video Conferencing.

November 1, 2007

in brand 2.0

I lost the original post and so will take a different tack starting with a thought. Many PR firms are failing to innovate and use best social media tools for their job. Example. Why aren’t they using the latest low cost video communications tools to enhance their social media messages? Specifically, why aren’t they using video conferencing and video messaging?

I had this small insight when I saw a blog by Chris Lynn today where he wrote about how to get back to / with your bloggers. It caused me to reflect on three PR conversations / arrangements I’ve had in the last two days. I’d also read Chris Anderson’s response, which added to what Marshall Kirkpatrick said last week and I followed up on. I also read Jeremy Pepper who again reinforced relationships. In all of them… other than a face to face type approach, or personal message I saw nothing that pushed the social media communications boundaries.

Which takes me to interviews, relationships and the effectiveness of them over the last couple of days. The first was with Peter Csathy of Sightspeed. I thought nothing extra about it at the time. He’s a video conferencing company; he’s selling a small / medium business product. It was an easy call, We’ve spoken ages ago over Sightspeed; still video enabled and enhanced the relationship. He’s not just a voice at the end of the phone. A key reason for this is we have talked face to face.

Today I had a call that wasn’t quite so straight forward. It was less clear what the briefing was to be about. We don’t know each other although I’m very familiar with the company and the product. I had other calls as well. Some went pretty well. Some of these remain faceless… I’ve never met them face to face and as such the personal story a blogger might tell or the enthusiasm glimpsed in a nuance wasn’t there.

That set me thinking. Marshall Kirkpatrick put PR releases all over the net saying STOP. Chris Anderson blew off the PR companies by printing their email addresses. Both said effectively… give me a break I need a relationship.

With the calls today and the emails from the PR firms they remain effectively faceless. This says to me they are wasting their talent and not presenting it. Chris Lynn wrote that in the old days one used to take the journalist out for coffee. Yeah.. some bloggers even get taken out to dinner. However, communications being the way it is… dispersed, fragmented; those that you need to reach are not down at the local Starbucks.

With Peter’s example I realized the the number one Social Media Tool that PR people can add to their arsenal is video messaging. It was demoed within Sightspeed.

When approached, a short 15 to 30sec video message from the PR contact would enhance the text details. Video why I should talk to them and put a face on who you are. This will let me know if you are authentic, have done your homework etc. With this we are on the way to a relationship. Yes, I know the description needs some tweaking.

I could respond to a video enabled PR request via Video, via text or simply ignore it. I’m sure it will be harder to ignore. I’ll probably watch some of them. It help even more if they spoke about who they were introducing who they were setting up the video conference with me for.

Professionalizing video conference requests means the other party is willing to share a little more about themselves. I’m convinced that a discussion with a CEO for a new startup would me much more compelling and human on video. If not train him! CEO’s for startups will end up on YouTube anyways. Look if I am going to listen to a guy for 30 minutes then I want the full arsenal, the picture of who they are and how they show things.

That concludes this basic blog message. PR firms aren’t using the latest technology to build the conversation. I’ll go one further. They aren’t enabling the opportunity for content creation. Videos will be recorded in these situations. The service provider of the video must enable a fair system for notification and recording. Plus an agreement on whether it is sharable or not. A lot of this could be done at the end of the video. Guess what.. great notes, faster to visibility.

Actions for PR firms.
Work out how to personalise your approach. The best substitute for the Face to Face is your enthusiasm. There’s much more in a short video / voice message than there is in a text message. Knowing and hearing how you present your thoughts gives me a good clue on how and what to expect. Don’t talk about the client’s personality in this. Just set up the excitement of “CEO x wants to do a video conference with you”. Click here to confirm, which then sends instructions.

Get your clients trained and willing to use it. They are doing pitches live everyday. Why restrict who they are and the power of their personalities. BTW I don’t recommend one way video calls. It is either on for both parties or off. Talking to a camera without an audience is hard or vain.

It would go a long way if you would support who you are with a personal blog, personal video or short update on what you are working on. What I need is for you to show and demonstrate to me that it will be easy to go to video. Unfortunately too few are really comfortable using it. However, that is less and less the norm.

In the tech world it will be easier to identify the bloggers that are willing to take this new approach forward. I suggest you try it. Make it easy to opt out of video, but encourage it.

If you PR firm represents your Video Service make sure they try to use it with every communication. It’s not different to only serving “Coke” if you hold the Coke account.

If you are a client, discuss video strategy with your PR firm. If they don’t have one or the capability I’m not sure they are going to understand social media.

There is data out there supporting this direction if you go and look. Not sure of the source here. It implies relationships are enhanced.

Video Conferencing Facing a Perfect Storm TransWorldNews

The report compares the business performance metrics of the Top Performers who had invested 50 times more time attending video conferences than their Poor Performing peers and found that Top Performers had:

  • 20% more very satisfied customers

  • 72% more very satisfied employees

  • 85% more revenue per employee

  • 20% more market share

  • 5.5 times higher satisfaction with the conferencing experience

  • PR firms don’t lead on video conferencing for the same reason they still don’t understand blogging, or for that matter,the Internet. They are too focused on pushing out a message. Not entirely their fault – their clients are still focused on MSM clippings.

    I still meet PR pros who don’t understand or read blogs. I still get press releases in email attachments. I still get “Dear Blogger” emails.

    PR people need to 1- educate themselves about new media; 2- educate their clients.

    and i have to say, the last thing i want is a video message from a clueless flak.

  • BL,
    I totally agree and I believe more and more PR firms are failing their clients. Relationship building, real relationships has never been more important. Clippings! What an obsolete method that is today. Can I have it as RSS?

    I’ve found myself wading into this space as a marketer and researcher who’s convinced that companies will be blindsided and PR companies aren’t mastering the tools they need to use. I set out to “run” programs for marketers / brand managers. I see PR firms as a co-collaborator in building this conversation.

    I’d suggest a comparison. Company crisis… traditional response (think Mattel recently) vs what a company and PR firm could do if they really understood Twitter, YouTube, Video Messaging etc. When it gets to the next corporate PR crisis with the client have the skills? Will the agency? Video is now a key element.

    I’ll add that there still isn’t a really good video product. Sightspeed is closer, Skype is ok / not bad. Both don’t provide what business really needs yet.

    Thanks for the comment. I think many of us have the opportunity to really change the conversation.. and the criteria used for hiring the PR firm.

  • Today’s Google announcement mainstreams social media to the point where no company and certainly no agency can ignore social media for one minute more.

    IMO, PR firms are dinosaurs. I stopped doing PR 10 years ago because I had lost respect for the way it is practiced.

    Any company that is listening to old-school advice is in deep trouble today.

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