Insights into some AxiCom thinking...
A strange phenomenon is occurring; video is becoming a major means of communication. I don’t mean mainstream news channels or CEOs on satellite feeds, but plain everyday embedded video that helps to tell the story. If I click onto a BBC news item, I expect a video window that will show me, in a 30 second summary, what happened in that bombing in Pakistan or the cricket match at the Oval. Even Gordon Brown has taken to video, first with the Number 10 news channel through our friends at Brightcove and latterly, and less successfully, with the rather gruesome youtube video (I would advise against letting children or anyone with a nervous disposition watch this one). What’s causing this is fascinating. Partly it is the evolution of the network technology, partly it is the fact that nearly all of us are carrying video cameras within our phones that can generate content, but more than that it is the cultural evolution of video as the communication medium of choice. We are becoming desensitised to text or audio to explain events, and look for and rely on the video evidence.
Where once video was the preserve of the patrician few, it is now for the plebiscite. Anyone with a cheap video capture device (the Flip is the latest love of my life), a bit of editing software (free on a Mac) and the mouse to post it on a web or blog site (OK – this last one I still need help with) can become a video news journalists. Roll over CNN….
What does this mean to us in the PR business?
The first implication is that all of us in PR are going to have to get very smart, very quickly about video. To launch a new product, get the client’s views on new legislation expressed, demo the latest gadget for reviewers – all of these are going to become the preserve of video where once text was sufficient. To be of any value the PR must understand what to shoot, how to edit, who to feature and when to broadcast - a lot of skills that we don’t have today. Get it wrong and you end up with Gordon’s youtube disaster.
The second is that our clients are going to have to become good video performers. Presidents and prime ministers had to adapt to TV in the 1950s (it is said that the notoriously taciturn Calvin Coolidge would never have been elected president in the era of TV, and it is highly doubtful that Winston Churchill would ever have sobered up for long enough to go in front of the cameras). So CEOs and senior management will have to become great video performers.
Where this leaves journalists is another question. In any increasingly direct communications world maybe their role will be to comment on and pour scorn over the monstrously miss-cast, painfully performed and appallingly edited video segments that we will be churning out in years to come…
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