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The 3 best Super Bowl commercials of 2014

Thanks to Mr. Media Training for inspiring this post! Read his, here…

This year, advertisers spent an average of $4 million per 30-second commercial aired during the Super Bowl, the most watched television broadcast of the year. Last night, 111.5 million people tuned in to watch the game.

That’s a CPM of about $35 (per thousand people), which is actually considered rather decent as far as primetime television advertising goes.

Do the commercials work, though? That depends on the goal. One analysis shows that the names of 70% of brands advertising are recalled by people after the game.  Only 30% of the ads increased purchase intent, while 40% of the ads increased brand exposure. Companies who advertise during the Super Bowl tend to see increased investments in the weeks before and after the game. Movies do even better.

So, the jury is still out on that one. But they sure are fun to watch, aren’t they? Here are the “official Fletcher Prince picks” for the best commercials of the night.

1st Place: Duracell “Trust Your Power” featuring Seattle Seahawk Derrick Coleman | Ad Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi New York

The best commercial of the night, by a WIDE margin, was the Duracell “Trust Your Power” spot featuring Derrick Coleman.  It was a triumph of an ad about a triumph of a person, with all the attributes of a great Super Bowl commercial: relevant to the game, inspiring, moving, and novel (how many of us knew this back story?) In short, it caught my attention, and its association of the brand with the deaf player’s courage and determination made me respect Duracell as a brand. I can honestly say I will be more likely to buy Duracell batteries as a result of this ad.

You know when a commercial can make a real statement, maybe even one that might change someone’s life, and still reinforce the brand, that is a dang good commercial. Awesome. Congratulations, Duracell and Saatchi and Saatchi New York, and congratulations, Derrick Coleman, on your Super Bowl win!

P.S. Here’s another cool thing Derrick Coleman did: distributing free hearing aids to New Yorkers before the Super Bowl…

2nd Place: Doritos “Time Traveler” | Ad Agency: None

Surprise! Raj Suri was one of two finalists who got to have their Doritos ad air during the Superbowl. Way to go, Raj!  Smart move, Doritos!

Raj, an Intel systems analyst and Virginia Tech grad, won $1 million for the ad, which he produced with his friends for $300. The ad was inspired by his friend/director’s son, who wanted to create a time machine after he saw Back to the Future, and yep, that’s the kid in the commercial AND the kid’s dog!

Our second favorite ad of the night was a funny one that manages to tell a story and a joke — well — in 30 seconds AND reinforce the brand. Nice. I thought it was quite original and it made me laugh out loud.  Quirky humor + little kid + dog. A hard-to-beat formula with a crunchy twist at the end.  The last line makes me watch it again and again.

And I thought all this when I ASSUMED it was produced by some hot-shot ad agency. It blows me away now that I know the whole story! Congratulations, Frito-Lay and Raj!

3rd Place: Cheerios “Gracie” | Ad Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi New York

Saatchi & Saatchi scores another touchdown on the Fletcher Prince score card with a commercial that, like Cheerios, is just the right amount of sweet.  You might remember “Gracie” as the adorable tyke that poured Cheerios on her dad to make his heart healthy.  Here, she deftly negotiates for a puppy. The direction, timing, and acting in this spot was just perfect. It had the “awww” cute-kid factor without sinking into saccharine territory.  Looking forward to seeing more like Gracie!

Kudos to General Mills for embracing diversity with this portrayal of an interracial family, despite some of the hateful comments they received when airing the first “Gracie” commercial in 2013. We applaud a major brand for their creativity, integrity, and vision. Congratulations, General Mills and Saatchi & Saatchi New York!

What were your favorite commercials of the night? Tell us in the comments!

PR and advertising pros support Obama and lobbyists support Romney

Six voting machines for this election!

Six voting machines for this election! (Photo credit: momboleum)

If campaign contributions can be said to be a measure of political support, then the advertising and public relations industry overwhelmingly supports the re-election of President Obama, while the lobbying industry is casting its vote for Mitt Romney, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Contributions are measured by industry, taking into account amounts  donated by the firms, their owners, their individual employees, immediate family members of employees, political action committees associated with the firm.

For the purpose of this research by the Center for Responsive Politics, public relations firms in DC that were chiefly involved with impacting legislation were lumped into the “lobbyist” category.

The advertising and public relations industry donated nearly twice the amount of money to the Obama campaign ($632,566) in 2012 as the industry did the Romney campaign ($331,763).

The lobbying industry, however, appears to favor Romney for President (see articles below), making $1,150,677 in donations to the Romney campaign in 2012 — almost four times the amount they contributed to the Obama campaign: $308,912.

Here are some interesting statistics:

The advertising and PR industry has made $5,902,941 in political campaign contributions in 2012, with 66% going to Democrats and 34% going to Republicans. By contrast, the lobbying industry (including some DC PR firms) donated more than five times that amount — $34,154,847 — to political campaigns in 2012.  Democrats had a slight edge in lobbyist contributions, receiving 53% of the total contributions to the Republicans’ 47%.

It’s notable that the majority of contributions by the advertising and public relations industry have supported Democrats for more than two decades.  And this is also true of the lobbying industry, but some years have been more closely split than others.

Nearly all of the contributions in the advertising and public relations industry this year were donations of $200 or more by individuals, as opposed to donations by PACs or soft/outside money.

In the advertising and public relations industry category, The Omicom Group made the most political campaign contributions (all campaigns, not just the Presidential one), donating $212,026 in 2012; 84% of that going to Democrats.

In the lobbying industry category, the WPP Group made the most contributions (to all campaigns in 2012), donating $1,810,140 (53% to Democrat candidates and 46% to Republicans).

90% of  political campaign contributions by Edelman (advertising and PR industry category) and associated individuals went to Democratic candidates.

Interesting, isn’t it?

Bet you didn’t know: the Ad Council and public service campaigns

Ad Council

Image via Wikipedia

Do you sometimes see or hear a public service announcement that is produced by the Ad Council for a nonprofit organization or a government agency?

Did you assume that the nonprofit organization or agency received that public service announcement  for free?

I did.  Until this week.  But I was wrong about that.

The Ad Council takes credit for these campaigns, and the public perception is that the Ad Council is responsible for them.  For example, NPR just recognized them for 70 years of “Ad Council campaigns.”

But the truth is, the campaigns are initiated by other nonprofit organizations or the federal government; advertising agencies (such as BBDO and Arnold) contribute the creative at no cost; and the advertising space is donated by publishers that can’t sell the space (the leftovers) and broadcasters, who are mandated as a condition of their license to allot a certain percentage of their broadcast time to airing public service announcements.

You won’t see these nonprofits, government agencies, and advertising agencies getting much credit from the Ad Council on the Ad Council Facebook Page, however (at least, not until I mentioned it yesterday!)  The Ad Council claims the campaigns as their own — and they also take credit for the impact.  And I don’t think that’s right.

So if the Ad Council doesn’t come up with the idea, execute it creatively, or pay for advertising space, what is the Ad Council’s contribution?  And is it fair for them to claim these campaigns as their own, as well as their impact to the community?

Well, the Ad Council does make a contribution, for a price.  It actually charges some pretty hefty fees to federal agencies and nonprofit organizations for “managing” the production and distribution of PSAs.  In most cases, this “sponsorship” amounts to many thousands of dollars.   The agencies and nonprofits are expected to assume all costs of production (which the Ad Council expenses to the IRS – seems odd to me!).  The nonprofits and agencies also pay project management fees paid to the Ad Council.  For example, Autism Speaks paid the Ad Council $844,000 in fees in a recent year (as reported to the IRS).

Maybe that’s a great price for what Autism Speaks received that year, I don’t know.  But I’d be curious to know what exactly they were paying for, if the creative and space were already donated.  Stock photography?  Or maybe it helped pay for the Ad Council president’s $862,000 annual compensation package.

Did I mention that the Ad Council was a nonprofit organization?  How do you feel about a nonprofit organization paying its CEO $862,000?  Still consider them benevolent?

In their most recent tax report, the Ad Council claims that it received nearly $32 million in program revenue from nonprofits and federal agencies, as well as nearly $9 million in donations and grants.

What is your opinion now of the Ad Council?  And do you think they should take credit for these public service campaigns?

Advertising Tips from Fletcher Prince

ADDY Awards

Image via Wikipedia

This year, as you make your marketing plans, I hope you are allocating money for advertising.  While advertising may be the most expensive component in the marketing mix, it is often highly effective.

There are two upcoming opportunities to expand your knowledge about advertising opportunities in the DC area.  One is the local ADDY awards, which will be presented by the DC Ad Club in mid-March.  This is the perfect occasion to scout out the agencies that are producing award-winning work.  The other is DC Ad Week, which will occur in mid-September.  You have the opportunity to hear from nationally known experts in advertising at DC Ad Week, and learn about the latest trends and best practices.

Of course, David and I hope you will work with us this year.  As you consider your advertising options, here are some “Do’s and Don’ts” to keep in mind . . .


  • Integrate your marketing, public relations, and social media campaigns to complement each other.  We can help you plan your integrated campaign.
  • Examine where your competitors are advertising, and the frequency.
  • Invest in professional graphic design for display advertisements.
  • Use cost-effective email marketing.  It has the highest ROI on the dollar of all marketing channels, according to the Direct Marketing Association
    • Email marketing: $40.56
    • Internet, search: $22.24
    • Internet, display: $19.72
    • Social networking: $12.71
    • Mobile: $10.51
    • Catalog: $7.30
    • General advertising: $5.24
  • Use search engine advertising, especially if you have numerous competitors.
  • Target workday commuters with drive-time radio spots and Metro bus/rail ads.


  • Skimp on advertising!  This is the most common mistake we observe.
  • Assume Twitter and Facebook updates can replace the results of paid advertising.
  • Run small, lower-price ads in many outlets.  Larger ads get noticed.

Your Marketing Strategy for 2012: How Much? How Often?

Every marketing scenario is different but it can be helpful to have some “frequency” rules of thumb that you can consider and adjust for your needs.

  • Blog Posts: Once per week, or more frequently.  No less than 12 per year (once per month).
  • YouTube Videos: One per month, or more frequently.  No less than 6 per year (every other month).
  • Facebook Page Updates: Monitor daily and update once or twice a day, max.  Try every other day.  Schedule updates during evening hours and on weekends and holidays.
  • Twitter Updates: Monitor daily and update one to five times a day (space tweets an hour apart).  Suspend unrelated tweets during emergencies and disasters, breaking news events.
  • Email Communications: One newsletter and one announcement/postcard per month, or no fewer than 6 email communications per year (every other month).
  • Radio Advertising: Read this blog post on frequency and effectiveness and consult your ad rep.
  • Newspaper Advertising: Run at least 6-8 display ad insertions, at minimum, over a 2 month period, and measure results. Consider weekly ads, and consult your ad rep.
  • Postcard Mailings: Tie to events, which you may have every 4-6 weeks, for example.

Your Marketing Strategy for 2012 — Avoid 10 Common Pitfalls in the New Year

When prospective clients ask me how to achieve visibility for their new or existing business, I generally make similar recommendations.  My advice would also apply to managers with nonprofit organizations, associations, and government agencies, as well.

Although my advice is sound and practical, I struggle with convincing some people of the value of my recommendations.

When planning and executing marketing strategies, the biggest and most preventable mistakes I observe are

(1) Skimping on needed marketing and public relations activities, even when the resources are available and the services are affordable.  I have never seen a client who spent too much money or too much time on marketing.

(2) Failing to create or stick to even the most basic marketing and public relations plan.  Being disorganized in their business practices.

(3) Postponing sales-generating marketing tactics when their business is doing well.

(4) Neglecting to update their websites, social media platforms, and public relations and marketing materials — sometimes for several years.

(5) Procrastinating until the last minute to launch promotions or public relations outreach. Not understanding the amount of time it takes to build a campaign.

(6) Abandoning marketing efforts before they have a chance to obtain results.  Having unrealistic expectations.

(7) Fearing to make a change, or try a new tactic.  Refusing to consider new options that are working well for their competitors, from a lack of familiarity with those options.

(8) Omitting the important step of reviewing and measuring their past efforts, a step that would help inform their goals and decisions.

(9) Disregarding the value of informed, external opinions and constructive criticism, even from customers.  Clients can’t always “see” that their website looks disorganized, or that their marketing materials are outdated and ineffective. They are too “close” to it.

(10) Assuming too much.  Taking on too many projects at once, or attempting too ambitious a project.  It’s better to keep it simple, and sustained.

No one is perfect.  Everyone lapses on following through on marketing plans sometimes.  The important thing to identify now is: reviewing these pitfalls, can you see whether you put obstacles in the way of your success?  Can you identify any patterns?  Did you do the best you could do, or did you let fear, disorganization, or unrealistic expectations hold you back?

Looking back at 2011, what could you have done differently?  What can you do differently in 2012?

My message for sole proprietors, businesses and nonprofits as we move into 2012 is this: you can’t complain that no one asked you to dance if you didn’t bother to put on your best clothes, or even come to the dance.

You have to make an effort if you want to see results.  And that effort usually involves an investment of resources.  It will cost something, but if your business model is sound, or your nonprofit organization is worthy, wise marketing choices will make a difference.

Marketing works when you work it.  There is no magic to marketing or public relations, and there are very few shortcuts.  Marketing your business or nonprofit takes effort and dedication, over time.

The end of the year is a time to regroup and plan.  Now is the time to analyze your position, look at what your competitors are doing, and measure the results of your past efforts.  It is time to set actionable goals, create a plan, and dedicate a budget to making that plan happen.  You need to decide what you will handle yourself, what you will delegate to staff, and what you will contract out to smart, hard-working people who can help you.

Best wishes to you for a prosperous new year.

How bad is it, really? An informal look at the state of the PR and advertising industries

David and I sometimes visit the offices of public relations and advertising agencies.  No two agencies are the same, but we did notice evidence of the economic downturn.  Most agencies seemed to be affected somewhat, many worse than others.  One unforgettable example was walking into what had once been a prosperous advertising agency and seeing a sea of empty desks.  It appeared that the business was locked into a lease but was really struggling to keep the doors open.  It was both sad and funny that they had put a mannequin at the reception desk, which had obviously once been staffed by a real person.  We saw that “empty desk” syndrome at more than a few agencies.  And they’re not alone in this.  I don’t know anyone who isn’t hurting right now, Fletcher Prince included.

So, how bad is it really?

According to Rosanna Fiske, CEO of the Public Relations Society, while the advertising industry is on the decline, the public relations industry is actually on the upswing.  And why is that?

Well, take a look at all these “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations.  I’m not saying the demonstrations are a laser-accurate barometer of popular sentiment.  However, they are a symptom: it is true that Americans are losing what faith they had in institutions and corporations — which is where PR steps in.  The Edelman Trust Barometer has measured this decline in trust, and the results are compelling.

On a scale from 1 to 9, respondents are asked to rate how much they trust institutions.  In the latest (2011) survey, the percentage of U.S. respondents who rated their degree of trust from 6 to 9

  • Only 27% for the media, declining from 38% in 2010.  In other words, 63% of Americans distrust the media as an institution of deserving of credibility.
  • 40% trust the government, 60% don’t.  This is a decline from 46% in 2010.
  • 46% of Americans still have faith in business, as an institution, down from 54% in 2010.  So now, more than half of Americans are wary of businesses.
  • 55% of Americans trust NGOs (nonprofits), which represents a decline from 63% in 2010.

The decline in the economy is partially responsible.  We all know that the innovations associated with the Internet in less than a decade have had a profound and even detrimental impact on the advertising industry, which relied heavily on revenues from newspaper and magazine display advertising. Newspaper circulation has been declining with a sharp drop in the recession of 2009.  Even USA Today saw a drop in circulation with the impact of the economy — business travel decreased, and business travelers were going online for news in increasing numbers, so hotels purchased fewer subscriptions.  The nearly empty offices we saw in some agencies were explained by the fact that advertising revenues have decreased by nearly half since 2005.  Looking just at print advertising revenues in newspapers,  revenues from retail advertising declined 42% and classified advertising decreased 67% (Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, 2011 State of the News Media).

The decline has been so rapid and innovations have come to the fore so quickly that it has been difficult for all but the most nimble advertising agencies to keep up.  However, and I am really kind of sad to say this, the decrease in trust and the woeful economy does represent an opportunity for public relations firms, whose bread and butter comes from managing and enhancing the reputations of firms, nonprofits, and government agencies.  With trust in institutions at an all time low, firms are stepping up to meet that challenge for their clients.  The ones that are succeeding are the ones that understand and can navigate the online space, which is most influential on public opinion.  According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, more people turn to search engine results to find information about a company than any other way, nearly twice as many as those who look to newspapers or magazines.

Personally, I believe creating and maintaining trust today is a function both of public relations (including social media) and advertising (but the right kind of advertising).  Both industries add strengths — but today, neither can stand alone.  The hybrid agencies are the ones that will succeed.

PR and Advertising Agencies on YouTube, By the Numbers

According to my analysis of 100 leading public relations and advertising firms, many professional communicators do not know how to maximize the potential marketing opportunities presented by YouTube.

Basis of Findings

I compiled a group of 100 top-billing public relations and advertising agencies.  To assemble this list, I used  O’Dwyer’s top 50 independent public relations firms (by billings), and I added some major public relations agencies not included in the ranking.

To this group, I added the top 23 advertising agencies in the Washington, DC metro area (by 2009 billings), ranked by Washington Business Journal in the 2011 Washington Business Journal Book of Lists, as well as the top 24 privately owned public relations agencies in the Washington, DC metro area (same publication).

With this information in hand, I assembled a sample of 100 influential public relations and advertising agencies with ample resources and major clients.

The best of the best.  Our industry leaders.  The kinds of agencies we would expect to deliver superlative results in all aspects of their business dealings.

Summary of Findings: Agencies are Not Maximizing the Potential of YouTube

While many claim digital expertise, in practice, the majority of top-billing public relations agencies and advertising agencies do not take advantage of the branding opportunities and search potential associated with YouTube.

Thirty percent (30%) of the agencies I analyzed have not yet established a presence on YouTube.  As for the remaining 70%, most (or nearly all) agencies on YouTube made elementary mistakes in the organization of their YouTube Channel and videos.

These additional findings apply to the 70% of agencies who had a presence on YouTube.

  • 95% of these agencies did not have a video player on their website’s home page.
  • 67% of the agencies on YouTube had not placed a YouTube button on the home page of their company website linking to their YouTube Channel.
  • 66% had uploaded video that either definitely or probably violated copyright restrictions.
  • 65% had uploaded fewer than 25 videos on their corporate Channel.
  • 64% had uploaded video that was of an unacceptable level of viewing quality.
  • 58% had achieved less than 4,500 total views for their videos.
  • 43% failed to upload an image of their corporate logo to their YouTube Channel.
  • 29% failed to add any text description at all to their videos.

If You Want to Know How Your Agency Ranks…

Please contact me to meet with you if you are interested to know if your agency was included in my analysis, what I discovered about your agency’s activities on YouTube, and how your agency stacks up to the competition.

Learn More: Come See Me Present on YouTube Optimization

I’ll be talking about how to get more views for your YouTube videos at Digital East on September 29, and I sincerely hope there will be some employees from DC area public relations and advertising agencies in the room, because, apparently, I have my work cut out for me.  Register today!

We’re Here to Help

Fletcher Prince can help you establish or makeover your YouTube Channel, optimize your videos for search, and develop a plan for creating meaningful and engaging YouTube videos that will truly reflect the reputation and expertise of your company, and be a helpful online resource to your existing and potential clients.  Call (571) 269-7559 to learn more.

On YouTube, you can’t afford to go logo-less, agencies!

You know advertising agencies are in the business of branding, right?

And logo design would be a major part of that.

So the largest advertising agency in DC has a YouTube Channel.  Yes, it does.

It does not have a logo on that Channel.

In case you were wondering, that’s the YouTube equivalent of showing up for a job interview in a Brooks Brothers suit and forgetting TO WEAR SHOES.

Guess How Many Are Logo-Less?

You would be surprised how MANY well-heeled agencies skip this important branding step.  Want to guess?  Okay, I’ll tell you. 43% of leading public relations agencies and advertising agencies — the top billing, most reputable agencies around — have not uploaded a logo to their YouTube Channels.

Why Branding Matters on YouTube

A square version of your logo is brands your presence on YouTube — and Facebook and Twitter, as well.  This square version of your log is your agency’s stamp on other Channels you subscribe to.  Whenever you post a video or a comment, that logo appears.

And not having a logo?  What does that suggest about your brand?  Not good things.  Like you don’t really “get” YouTube.  Or branding.  Or that you don’t pay much attention to detail.  None of these qualities are going to endear you to prospective clients.

Aren’t You Ashamed of Yourselves?

Come on, advertising and public relations agencies, step up your game!  It’s 2011.  There ARE no more excuses for logo-less lameness.

Homework assignment: If you have a company YouTube Channel and you don’t have a logo, you either need to get your graphic designer on that project right away or pay me $450 to make it for you. Now, get to work!

What Does Your YouTube Video Really Communicate About Your PR or Advertising Agency?

Extra effort can make your video worth watching.

In this post, I’m going to critique a video that was produced by a large public relations agency and put on YouTube recently.  I’m going to make some points about what it takes to produce video of acceptable quality.  And although I have a lot to say on this subject, I want readers to understand: I think agencies should produce video.  I don’t want to discourage anyone from trying. I do want to encourage large agencies with ample resources to give it their best effort, however, and to call Fletcher Prince, or another video producer, to help them, if they need it.  Anything less does a disservice to our profession!

You know, Fletcher Prince is a small company of two people.  But when we do something, we give it everything we’ve got.

I can forgive a lot of things in business, but one thing that I find hard to understand is a laxity in execution, especially when it comes to social media — and especially when the resources are there to do a good job.  Amateur efforts from amateurs is understandable.  But amateur efforts from professionals is not.  It is easy to use social media.  It takes focus and effort to use it well.

I was thinking about this yesterday while watching YouTube video.  I subscribe to many YouTube Channels, including ones presented by large public relations and advertising agencies in town.

I just watched a video produced by one of these large agencies, at their office.  I know this agency, and I’ve shot video there.  I know what resources they have at their disposal, so I know that there is no excuse for them putting out this low quality of content on YouTube, especially with all the video professionals working in this town.  Their video was designed to communicate a message from one of the executives, but even at two minutes in duration, it was punishment to watch.   It was so poorly produced, it was distracting, and the message was lost, at least on me.

I don’t like to go around randomly criticizing the best efforts of people.  I don’t think that’s productive.  But this was clearly not the best effort of a multi-million dollar, global agency.  It bothers me that some public relations and marketing professionals do not take YouTube more seriously, especially when it comes to the brand of their own agencies!  Don’t they know that clients and potential clients watch these videos?  YouTube is one of the most visible and optimized representations of your brand.  Forget the intended message for a moment; what does a poorly produced video really communicate about your agency? Or your people?

Agencies are often guilty of not treating themselves like their best client.  Actually, that is a very good rule of thumb. If you would  not produce a video like that for your best client, then you should not produce it for your own company.  I expect my clients to look at the work I do for my own company and think “that’s what I want, too.”  The exemplary promotional and social media work an agency does for itself should be it’s very best: its most well-conceived and executed; its most creative — because, after all, you do not have any limits when it comes to self-promotion.

When all is said and done, what can you deduce from a public relations agency that does not promote itself well, or an an advertising agency that does not advertise itself creatively?  Why not showcase what you can do?

But back to video.  Video is especially important.  At your peril, do not cut corners on your YouTube video!  Video is an emotional medium, and it is not a forgiving medium.  It magnifies flaws, without mercy.  If you produce a cold and uninteresting video, with no heart at all, your people will come across as robotic, bureaucratic, or unfeeling.  Your message will come across as unimportant.  Nothing is more revealing or authentic than video, so when it flops, it’s like dropping an anvil on all your other hard work for your brand.

Here are some reminders about what it takes to produce good corporate video.

1. As a company producing publicly available content, you have a responsibility to your subscribers to provide quality content that is relevant, informative, and easy to understand, and that delivers on the promise of your brand.

When you produce something that is not your best effort, in my mind, that is like saying to your subscribers, we don’t care enough about you to try.

This is true for Twitter, Facebook, and blogs, but particularly for YouTube.  It is possible to review content for quality before it is published on YouTube.  If your video does not make the grade for your level of business — and for you large PR and advertising agencies, that bar should be pretty high! — it should not be published.

It’s not okay, for example, to create titles and slides that are illegible on YouTube, or that are flashed for too short a period to read, as I saw in this video today.

2. Your video must have a point, a key message. WHY did you just produce this video?  For whom? What problem are you trying to solve?  What emotion did you want to evoke?  And what is the ultimate goal you’re working toward?  Is this all working in concert with your brand?  And is all this obvious in the video?  If none of these are blatantly apparent to the viewer, then I have to wonder, why did they make this video and why should I care?

3. Your video should be visual. Don’t make a video just for the sake of making video.  If what you have to say works better as a blog, write a blog.  Do not assume what you have to say will work as a video because you turned on a camera.  If you can storyboard your message, it’s a video.  If you can bullet-point it, it may be a blog.  Consider. Think about cutaway images, photos or video to illustrate your points.

If this is a subject matter expert talking (like an executive at your company), you could use props, or different angles, or a different setting.  Or more than one person.  You need lively spokespeople for video.  People who change expression, move their head, use their hands to talk.  Looking at an unexpressive, rigid face from the neck up — or simply seated at a desk — is just boring.  

4. Your video should tell a story.  Don’t just make a list of points.  That’s not convincing or memorable on video. Share a vivid example or personal anecdote.  Have a clear beginning, middle, and end.  Some videos just end like they’re falling off a cliff.  Videos need closure.  Here’s a tip: show it to your kids (if you’re appearing in it).  If your kids wouldn’t like it to watch it, don’t put it on YouTube (my son likes all my videos).

Here is my advice for you large public relations and advertising agencies who are using YouTube and other social media.

1. If you don’t know how to produce quality YouTube video (or blog posts, or Facebook Page content), invest some money and hire ME to help you.  Or hire someone else.  Just recognize your limits.  I do!  I can’t do what you do.  I don’t know how to manage global accounts.  But let’s face it.  You can’t turn out decent YouTube video right now, and I can.  As a large agency, your standards should be higher than the YouTube video I am seeing you produce.  Recognize your limits, and outsource, if you need to.

2. Don’t underestimate the power of YouTube and other social media to enhance or undermine your brand. This is your brand.  Don’t cheap out on your brand! Come on! Your employees are going to see this! Do you think they’ll share that video on Facebook?  Make some video the whole company will  crow about.  Why would you spend all that money on a receptionist and a DC office that relatively few people will ever see — while spending nothing on a video that everyone will see?  YouTube is your lobby. Step it up!

3. LOOK at other videos. A lot of them. Hundreds of thousands of videos are uploaded to YouTube each day.  Look at other PR and advertising videos.  Look at videos that are produced for your target audience.  What worked?  What did not?  What would be right for your agency?  What would be involved in producing a video like that?  Think about this the next time you prepare your script or outline.

4. Craft an effective message people watching online will care about. I mean, this is basic marketing 101, right?  There are no hard and fast rules about video, or communications, but in general, if you are delivering information (and not entertainment), you have to give people a compelling reason to listen to what you have to say.  You might start with hello.  And a smile.  And some eye contact with the viewer.  So many communicators on video just skip over the niceties.  But, would you walk right into someone’s living room and start a speech?  Without even looking in their direction?  No, of course not.  Hello is a start.

Then, you’ve got to get right to the point, and you’ve got to grab their attention (and whose attention, by the way, you might say who this message is for).  You have to speak to some need that your company or program addresses, which you may pose as a question, for example.  In other words, you present the problem (their pain), then the solution (what you offer) and the payoff (how their problem will be solved/business will be effective/lives will be better).  Basic stuff, right?  But elements that are missing from so many videos.  The next video you produce, you might ask if those elements are in place, in one form or another.

And, don’t forget your call to action.  This is like packing your bags, going to the airport, checking in…then forgetting to get on the plane.  What do you want people to do next?  Call you?  Visit your site for more information on a specific topic?  There’s nothing wrong with fun videos — we do them all the time.  But they have a point, and anyone watching them would pick up what we really want them to do.

5.  Don’t put someone on camera who is not enjoying themselves. Prepared people enjoy themselves.  This is why all my LinkedIn recommendations say I am “fun” to work with.  You would think I was a clown!  I’m not.  I just know how to make people feel prepared and in control of the situation.  This is where direction comes in, and where David and I excel.  You would be surprised how many people who work in advertising and public relations do not understand how to communicate their thoughts on video.  They need to be prepared.  You have to know how to get people in the right frame of mind and spirit for a video.  You have be willing to be brutally honest with them, if that’s what it takes, but also kind and supportive.  And you also have to know when to hang it up.

This is because a director, even one person behind the camera, has to make the person look and sound good so the message gets across.  Anything less is distracting, and the message gets lost.  If someone is less than enthusiastic, they look like a zombie on video — or angry, or tired, or even depressed. If you produce a video, and on previewing discover there really is no life or energy in it, it is better to just kill it than put it up on YouTube.

6. Good video takes some effort.  You can still shoot at the office, but spend 15 extra minutes and set up lights and an external microphone. The large agencies in town should have a few more resources than Fletcher Prince!  If we can afford lights and mics, so can you.  Your people sound like they are in a can.  That’s because all the sound is bouncing off your hard walls of your chic and minimalist offices by the way, and because you used the camera’s microphone.

And lighting?  You need diffuse and flattering lighting on your subject, and plenty of lighting for your “set” or your video will be grainy and look out of focus.  Proper white balance settings are essential — and you’re going to have to turn off those overhead fluourescent lights — unless you want your people to look blue.  Let’s be honest, for your executive men and women, anything less is unkind.  Your people look haggard.  While we are speaking of kindness, never, never shoot up from below at any woman over the age of 30, and make sure she is wearing some makeup, so her mouth and eyes don’t disappear.  The video I saw was hideously unflattering. No wonder people shy away from participating in corporate video when they see results like this!

7. Be intentional about your communication style. There are so many ways to communicate. I have a list on my wall of synonyms for the word communicate.  Think about the different nuances associated with each of these words.

You can communicate by flirting.  You can communicate by impressing. You can be influential, seductive, compelling, convincing, touching, urging, or informative.

You can explain, show, tell, prove, reveal, demonstrate, share, or report.

All of these communication approaches are different — quite different, in fact.  When you produce your next video, think not only of what you are communicating, but how you will communicate it.  Decide, before you turn on the camera.

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