Interview with an expert: creating video press releases with Philip Pauley

Today we chat to Philip Pauley of Pauley Interactive about the advantages of video press releases. Find out how to get the best out of a modest project budget, the definite ‘do’s and don’ts’ when putting one together, and how PR campaigns have changed during his time working with the industry…

About creating video press releases:

What are the main advantages of a video press release in comparison to the traditional written version?

Increasingly, PRs want to connect with people beyond their traditional audience. Many have moved beyond simply connecting with people in the media. They want to interact directly with consumers and businesses, particularly through social networks. A traditional press release approach can’t provide the level of visibility, detailed information or entertainment that consumers demand. That’s why more and more PRs are turning to online video to get their message heard.

How should PR companies get started when planning a video press release?

The first questions you need to ask yourself are what is your desired budget, deadline and quality. Once you know those you’re in a position to make some sensible decisions about how to proceed. Planning the camera positions, post-production and sound recording are areas it’s easy to forget about in the rush to start recording.

What equipment is essential for the filming/recording/editing process?
Even the cheapest modern video camera can give high quality results if you pay some attention to lighting, camera position and sound volume. It’s worth taking some time to think about those aspects before getting started. There’s plenty of free editing software available on the web which, for simple no-frills videos, can give excellent results. I’d only advise investing in more expensive software or camera equipment if you’re going to make video press releases a regular part of your PR offering.

Is it important to have narration or a presenter featured in the video, or can graphics and music be equally as effective?
There’s only one acid test; does the video get the intended message across? If in doubt, ask for feedback from people who are likely to tell you the brutal truth before finalising it. However, less is more in some instances – more well-known brands can get away with less!

Are there any definite no-no’s when putting a video together? What should PRs avoid?
Don’t zoom in or out during shots. Ever. It looks terrible. The trouble is, people don’t seem to be able to resist the temptation. Don’t move the camera during shots either. Again, unless you’ve got enough money for a proper camera crane, it will look awful. Static shots are the way forward. Finally, don’t expect that the in-built microphone on your camera will pick up decent quality sound from more than a metre or two away, especially if there’s even a hint of background noise. Unless you’ve got a proper external mic, stay close.

Could you give an example of a particularly good/effective video press release you’ve seen? And a bad one?
There are some terrible videos out there. Usually, they could have been saved by doing less rather than more. If in doubt, keep it simple. The worst video releases I’ve seen are ones that try to get as many graphics, as much music and as many clichés into the script as possible. The only salvation is if your video is so shockingly cheesy and crass that it becomes an ironic masterpiece. But this is obviously a risky strategy!

What are the best ways to make press release videos interesting/appealing to journalists, ensuring favourable coverage in the media for PR clients?
First up there’s the IT issue. It’s one for your techies to sort out but is vital and easily overlooked. If your video is in an obscure format or requires 80 terabytes of memory to process you’re on to a loser from the start. Make sure it’s on all the usual social networks so that anyone with a computer can see it. When it comes to journalists, the usual questions apply: is it suitable, relevant, informative or amusing? If not, the journos will have your gaffes in all their full-colour glory rather than simply in print.

Working with PRs:

If you could make one change to the way PRs approach working with you, what would it be?

I would urge them to stick to the agreed script or narrative and not be tempted to change their minds halfway through production. It’s more cost-effective to stick with the original plan even if something even more exciting happens along the creative process (as is often the case).

Name the three most important attributes that make a PR a pleasure to work with:

1)Being open to innovative ideas and creativity
2)Realistic timescales, budgets and expectations
3)A genuine excitement for how a project will evolve

In your opinion, what are the main challenges facing the PR industry today?

I believe the main challenge is visibility. It can’t be taken for granted any more. The challenge is coping with the explosion in publicity outlets and the background noise that threatens to drown out your message. Maintaining visibility means staying on top of the rising tide of media chatter. PR companies need to keep innovation and creativity at the forefront of their minds.

About you and your work:

How did you originally get into this line of business/this sector?

Coming up with fresh ideas has always been my passion, ever since I was a child and first got hold of a pen and paper. I studied design, which helped me learn how to visualise those ideas into viable concepts with practical applications. I love innovating and thankfully it comes very naturally to me and my outstanding team.

What have been the biggest changes in your field since you started the business?

When it comes to conceptual design and visual communications, the ability to generate innovative ideas is no different. What’s changed is the ability to implement them. Nowadays, more and more ideas fall within the realm of the possible. People able to understand, implement and communicate the vision of others are the people with the most to offer.

What’s the most memorable campaign you’ve been involved with?

Our partnership with Aquos Yachts – on a recent video charting the first 12 months of its 45m super-yacht Big Fish. The video charted its course around the world from New Zealand through to Tahiti, the Galapagos Islands, Antarctica and beyond. A full circumnavigation of the earth on its maiden voyage – incredible. It was used as part of the yacht’s global PR and for its first birthday celebrations with the original production engineers. There was so much energy and enthusiasm – it was a joy to work on and we feel incredibly honoured to be involved with their ongoing campaign.

Do you find social media an effective tool in your work? Would you recommend it to PR clients planning a campaign?

Of course it depends on the specifics of the job, but to me it’s something that needs to be ruled out only after deliberate consideration. There need to be good reasons not to take advantage of it. A great PR campaign can draw huge attention through social media. Get it right and it will spread like wildfire!

Is there a particular client you’d love to create a video with?

I’d love to work with UNESCO World Heritage Centre. It’s the one organisation for me that champions the wonderful diversity of cultures past and present on this earth. I’ve always been fascinated with this and that’s why I set up to explore the design aspects and inspiration of culture throughout the world – it really focuses our visual communications delivery.

Describe a typical day at work; what are your daily responsibilities?

I’ve always been an early bird so I’m in the office by six or seven AM at the latest. That means I can get through emails before things start to get busy. It’s also a chance to gather my thoughts about new concept and product designs. Once the office gets busy I’m usually tied up with phone calls and working with other design staff so that quiet time is important. Meetings follow creativity follow inspiration follow client feedback, fine-tuning and client feedback! I finish around six and can’t wait to get home to my beautiful wife and our newborn daughter India.

What interests you most about your job?

We get to work with so many different sectors and communications professionals from both large and smaller organisations on a wide range of visual communications requirements. We drive innovation through our creativity and promote business sustainability by identifying cost savings in time and money through the implementation of innovative and interactive techniques. It’s the pleasure my team gets from exceeding client expectations time and again that is the real joy in owning and running your own business. In my opinion, that’s priceless!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

At times, managing your own business can be a lonely and thankless journey for you and the staff on whom so much of the business’s success depends. In the early days I was referred to ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which was a great source of inspiration – quietly brilliant, a poetic PR masterpiece of its day.

For more on creating a successful video for your own future PR campaigns, watch Pauley Interactive’s video press release on, well, video press releases.

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[img|jpg|Philip Pauley, Director of Pauley Interactive]

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