So, if a picture is worth 1,000 words, what is a video worth?

When it comes to public relations, the use of video and live streaming of events on the internet is invaluable. Video is so much more powerful than a photo and is becoming more of the standard for major companies on their websites and on social media. Need proof? In December 2016, YouTube was ranked as the second most popular site by Alexa Internet, (Google was number one).

So let’s face it, it’s 2017 and we’re living in a world where my five-year-old daughter can pick up an iPad, browse YouTube for Shopkins videos and even dial a family member on Facetime without any help. What does this mean for you? Your target audiences today and in the future are going to expect more video content from you.

When it comes to unleashing the power of video, there really isn’t a good excuse for not using video to educate your audience to increase brand awareness or influence attitudes, opinions or beliefs about your service or your product.

Here are 13 ways you could be using video in your public relations and marketing strategy:

  1. Use what you already have.
    You don’t have to shoot new videos, you can repurpose what you have. Still have a company video stuck on VHS or DVD? You can have the video dubbed as an .mp4 or .wav file and upload it to your YouTube channel. People enjoy watching old videos that bring back a bit of nostalgia; it educates audiences about why you exist and shows your audience how long you’ve been around.
  2. Start a YouTube channel.
    If you don’t have a YouTube Channel yet, it’s time to put the wheels in motion to create one. Before you create it, there are two important things to know. 1. You will need to use a Gmail email address to set it up properly, and 2. be sure you have at least one video to put on your channel before you create it so that people won’t come to an empty channel. I recommend using YouTube over Vimeo or other video sites because YouTube is the #2 search engine (behind Google) and you want your video to be found. Writing a good description for your video is key. YouTube also has good options for broadcasting live.
  3. Share your company story.
    Interview the CEO or executive director or even the most senior staff member and have them describe the organization as if they were explaining it to someone for the very first time. People enjoy seeing someone tell a story rather than reading about it on the “History” or “About us” section of your website.
  4. Try using Facebook Live.
    If you are looking for a really easy way to get started using video, Facebook Live is the way to go. With a simple cell phone video camera you can be streaming live video on your company or organization’s Facebook page. Facebook Live gives users a way to connect with you in real-time by using the comments section or sharing approval for your content with a thumbs-up of smiley faces. This is also a good platform for sharing news fast, so whether it is a crisis or exciting announcement many organizations are starting to use this as the place to do it. Several other social media platforms are starting to offer live streaming, including YouTube, Twitter (Periscope), Snapchat and others.
  5. Consider live streaming your event.
    In the late 1990s, it was powerful for radio stations to stream on the internet. Today, apps like TuneIn Radio make it easy to listen to radio stations from across the globe with the tap of a finger and access to video with a tap of a button is not far behind. While not as widely available and at a higher cost, TV stations like ESPN are already offering live video content and cable providers are allowing subscribers to watch content from their tablet or phone as part of their subscription plan. You can still get in on the live streaming of video. Sites such as livestream.comOnStream Media and others have made it possible to stream events on the internet using a direct URL. For around $600, OnStream will provide a crew on site and broadcast your event and you don’t even have to lift a finger. Think of live streaming as a great way to broadcast your upcoming event, performance, sporting event, or press conference.
  6. Ask your fans and customers to submit videos.
    When it comes to videos, it doesn’t have to be all about you. Think of ways you can ask your audience to get involved. They will certainly want to tell their friends to watch their video on your website or social media page and that means more traffic and awareness for your brand. Doritos and the ALS ice bucket challenge are two great examples of ways to use user-generated content. In the case of the ice bucket challenge, funds raised helped scientists discover a new ALS gene, NEK1, known to be among the most common genetic contributors of the disease.
  7. Introduce your content on social media.
    People are more likely to click on a social media post with a photo and they are even more likely to click on a post with video. So, here’s what you do—take a video of you introducing the latest article or content you created on your website to let people know how excited you are about it and why they should check it out. Here is the example for this article on The Marshall Communications YouTube Channel.

  8. Use video conferencing for meetings.
    Did you know that GoToMeeting and Google Hangouts are great ways to have a video conference call with co-workers or clients? Google Hangouts allows up to 10 people on a video call at once at no cost. You can also use the screen share button to share presentations or visuals with the people on the video call. Video conferencing can save time and money when you need to connect face to face but can’t find the time to get together in person.
  9. Host a scheduled video program.
    Don’t worry, you don’t have to produce a TV show every week and it doesn’t have to be a half-hour long (like on real TV). The goal is to produce a wide range of content in one sitting and then share each video on a certain topic at a certain day and time each week. For example, brainstorm ten topics that come up in your line of work or look at the frequently-asked-questions page on your website, then produce 2-3 minute videos on each of those topics. You can also invite a special guest or host longer segments, but the idea is to release each of them once a week or once a month on your channel or social media sites to engage and educate audiences. Many people have become digital influencers on YouTube and get paid big bucks to produce videos about products or services.
  10. Film presentations for future use.
    TEDTalks have become extremely popular over the years by providing access to specific presentations from world-class speakers on a wide range of topics. The next time you give a presentation, ask if it will be recorded on video or if you can arrange to have it recorded. This allows you to maximize the amount of time you spend preparing for the presentation to then share it with a much broader audience.
  11. Measure an ad campaign.
    If you’re running a Google AdWords or Facebook campaign, or any internet campaign that is based on conversions, you want to make sure that you are attracting the right audience. You can use a video on the campaign’s landing page and measure how many times that video was viewed. This will give you an indication if people are landing on the content and are interested in learning more. If they aren’t clicking the video, they might not have found what they had hoped to find and you should probably adjust your content for the campaign.
  12. Create how-to videos.
    If you sell a product, you should definitely show people how to use it. You can take two different types of approaches to this type of video: 1) show people how to use your product and why it is the best; this would be considered more an advertisement or infomercial; 2) show people how to perform a task while using your product. For example, this video by Crestabout how to brush your teeth features Crest products but the people in the video never say “go buy Crest toothpaste.”
  13. Record video testimonials.
    You don’t have to be the star of your video, instead let your customers share why you are so awesome. Reach out to four to five of your customers or clients who would love to share their story and experience with others who might be researching your company or your offerings. Sometimes people need to see it to believe it. Marshall Communications has taken this approach to share the success of our patented Marshall Plan®. Instead of telling our potential clients about what a Marshall Plan® can do, we let our clients share their stories.

One of the biggest hurdles to using video that I hear from people is the cost of the equipment and set-up. For $400 you can buy a decent video camera to get started. For some of the tips above, you can even use a basic smartphone with a video camera.

No matter how you decide to start using video, now is the time. Make 2017 the year you invest more in video so that you can educate your target audiences about your products or services. You will be amazed to see what can happen.