How to Create a Video Press Release or Statement
The methods that public relations professionals use to connect with reporters haven’t really changed that much since the advent of email. Newsrooms, though, have changed significantly. Newsroom editorial teams today need to produce more content for more platforms in real time and they frequently need to do it with fewer and fewer staff. If today’s public relations professional wants to continue to earn media coverage for their organization, they therefore need to make it as easy as possible for a reporter to cover their story. That means doing more of the work for them and in some cases providing some or all of the raw assets along with your pitch or press release. With that in mind, we’ll explore how to create a video press release, press conference or statement.
Why Would You Include Video With A Press Release
In addition to making it easier for reporters to tell your story, there are many other reasons why you would want to include video with a press release. Many larger organizations frequently issue multimedia press releases that include links to B-roll, still images or even produced corporate video that reporters can use. You can build on that by sharing other content like formal addresses, statements, commentary and even recorded press conferences to dramatically expand the reach of your public relations efforts. Producing the video yourself also gives you more quality control over what goes out to the media and therefore what elements they may eventually use in their reporting. Don’t abuse that, though. If your video press releases or statements sound too much like corporate messaging, media will respond by not using them and could begin to ignore your future video communications as well.
Using Video Statements to Connect with Regional or Trade Media
One huge value of using video press releases to announce new programs or other developments is that it lets you reach media who cannot make it to your headquarters. Local reporters can frequently get called away for breaking news, but if you can provide video, they can come back to the story after they’re done. You can also more easily connect and earn coverage with regional or national media who are not local or even key trade outlets. And remember, TV stations are not the only outlets that use video today. Radio stations or blogs can use the audio or embed the video in their online reporting. The same goes for newspapers, magazines or trade websites. There are countless ways for media to use video today as long as you give them something valuable to work with that really helps them tell a story.
Recorded Video Statements and Crisis Communications
When companies kick into crisis communication mode, many often resort to communicating through short written statements. This happens for a lot of reasons, including trying to carefully control the company’s message, avoiding questions they don’t want to or are not ready to answer and trying to limit media pickup of the story. If you want to give your company a real voice, connect better with the audience and be proactive in your crisis communications, a recorded video statement is an option you should consider that seems less like hiding from a story. Getting a spokesperson or leader to make brief comments on camera and then sending the video to media along with a written statement allows TV viewers to connect with a person, not just the words of a company statement that most TV stations would throw up as a graphic. It can also show sincerity and commitment to resolving the issue that sparked the crisis communication while still limiting questions you may not have answers for early on in the process.
What Does a Video Press Release Look Like?
A video press release can come in many different forms. Formal press release services like PR Newswire promote their video and multimedia press release services where they embed you video directly into the release or attach it to the side so anyone viewing the release can explore it as well. A much easier version would be to send an HTML email either through your primary email account or an email services like Mail Chimp, Constant Contact, HubSpot or whatever your team uses. In those cases, you will most likely need to insert a thumbnail image of the video along with the text of your communication, preferably with a play button superimposed on top to clearly signal that it is a video. You then set up the thumbnail as a hyperlink to wherever the video is hosted (more on that below). This is because most email providers can still cannot fully support embedded video. A third option if you want to push out your message to as many people as possible and not just media would be to post your video statement as a native video on your social media platforms as well. If you’re trying to get your message out quickly before something gets out of hand, this can sometimes be the fastest way to get that external communication flowing.
Producing a Video Press Release or Statement
Company’s can and do spend months scripting and producing corporate videos that communicate their value and mission or highlight new products. If the goal of your press release is to highlight a new product or announce a major investment in your company, that’s great. Producing a video press release or statement doesn’t have to be that complicated, though, and in some cases can’t take that long if you communication is in response to some other development.
If you are issuing a statement, announcing a new hire or holding something similar to a press conference, a simple video recording can do the trick. You don’t need all the fancy graphics and in fact, you don’t want them because the goal in many cases is to get media to pull a quote or soundbite from your release. That means they need clean video to work with.
Production wise, you want to keep it simple while ensuring the video quality reflects the professionalism of your company. Can you record a quick video statement with your iPhone? Yes. Should you? Probably not. Make sure the video and audio quality of what you’re sharing communicates just as much of your message as your words. If you don’t have a dedicated video team, you can often do a lot with a simple video camera (DSLR video can get too complicated if you don’t know what you’re doing) and a good microphone. Lighting is key too. You’ll often end up shooting these videos in office environments, but typical office overhead lighting is not flattering and will fail to present your speaker in their best light (pun intended). Luckily, you can pick up a basic video lighting kit that will work for just about any video application you run into down the road. If you don’t already have some of these tools already, here are some quick, introductory suggestions to help ensure that the quality of your video press release is up to par and your leaders are happy with what they see on TV.
Video Camera Options
If you’re not prepared to dive into the complicated world of DSLR videography or interested in developing the skill set it requires, a simple but high quality camcorder like the Canon XA11 would be a great place to start. It’s a more pro-sumer/premium model with advanced features like XLR audio inputs to use a professional microphone, although you can still use a more consumer friendly microphone with a universal 3.5mm audio jack. If you’re on a budget or looking for something a step down from that, try the Canon VIXIA HF G21. You lose several features like the XLR audio input, but it will still deliver great results for video press release or statement production. Both also offer a clean HDMI out feed in case you want to adapt them for super high quality live streaming events or statements down the road.
Lavalier Microphone Options
A lavalier microphone is a simple audio solution that you can clip onto someone’s tie, blouse or jacket and get decent sound. Note that most are omnidirectional, meaning they can pick up a fair bit of room noise, so select your recording space appropriately. The Giant Squid Omnidirectional Lavalier Microphone is a good basic choice to get started, but make sure to get an extension wire as well so your subject can be more than three feet from your camera. Rode and Shure, two well respected microphone companies also make lavalier microphones that can plug directly into your smartphone if that’s all you have to work with.
Shotgun Microphone Options
A shotgun microphone allows you to get better audio quality while reducing much of the room noise due to their audio recording pattern. Your choice will depend on the kind of camera you have to plug it into, though. The Deity V-Mic D3 Super Cardioid Directional Shotgun Microphone as well as the D3 Pro are high quality choices if you only have a 3.5mm microphone input. If your camera has XLR inputs and can provide phantom power for a microphone like the Canon XA11 above, you can step your audio up a couple notches with something like the Rode NTG-2 Shotgun Microphone which can also use a AA battery as its power source if phantom power isn’t available.
Video Lighting Kits
In many cases, your lighting can be even more important than your camera. A good video camera with bad lighting produces bad video. With good lighting, though, even iPhone video can look great. There are a lot of options out there, though. Start with a very basic lighting kit and work your way up from there if you need more later on.
You’ll use a tripod to mount your camera and keep your video framed appropriately and at eye level with your subject. You can easily spend a fortune on a good tripod, but for most purposes, that’s unnecessary. Just make sure it has a fluid video head to keep your shot level (most photography tripods use a ball head), is rated to hold enough weight for whatever camera or accessories (microphone, teleprompter) you’re using and can raise high enough to get pretty close to eye level with your subject. In most cases, the Manfrotto 290 Xtra is a good place to start.
Mobile Teleprompter Solutions
Need to make sure the person delivering the statement or commenting on camera sticks to the script? Yes, you know just how important that can be and especially so on sensitive topics. In that case, a teleprompter is a great option and a company called Padcaster makes the easy and affordable Padcaster Parrot Teleprompter Kit that uses your smartphone and keeps everyone on message.
If you need to move fast (remember, crisis communications) and you only have your iPhone, at the very least choose a setting with great lighting and learn how to connect an external microphone to an iPhone. While people will sometimes tolerate poor video quality today, they will not tolerate bad audio.
Hosting Your Video Press Release
Now that you’ve produced your video press release, you need to decide how you want to make it available to others online. That means hosting. There are a lot of different options to host your press release and sometimes teams will immediately think of YouTube, but you should pause for a moment and consider this carefully. How you host a video press release should strategically connect to the goals you have for that communication. Are you trying to reach as many people as possible quickly? Are you only trying to share the video with media? Do you want people to be able to download the video itself? Do you want the video to be available via a publicly searchable link or something private? All of those need to be considered as you decide how to host your video press release.
YouTube vs. Vimeo for Hosting Your Video Press Release
If you want to host your video press release somewhere where it can easily be shared publicly, posted on social media and generally embedded into pretty much any other online content on the Internet, YouTube is your best choice. Not only is it the everyman online video platform, but it’s also the second most popular search engine in the world behind Google (which happens to own it). Uploads are generally easy and straightforward and you have the option to make the video publicly searchable or unlisted where you would need to share the link directly with any media or outside parties you wish to see the video statement or press release. That said, they can always share it from there.
One thing YouTube doesn’t offer that will at some point frustrate most public relations professionals is an option to replace your video if you need to make a late change. Your only option with YouTube is deleting the old video, uploading a new one and sending everyone an updated link. If you’re using a press release service like Businesswire or PR Newswire to distribute a press release, that’s incredibly frustrating because you won’t be able to go back and update the link or text in your release after it is sent.
Vimeo, on the other hand, makes it easy up upload a new video file in place of your old one. Hit send and then realize you forgot to include one important detail or realize you mispronounced someone’s name? No problem. Vimeo also offers an incredible amount of control over how your video is presented online, including multiple variations of public vs. private video links, whether the video is embeddable or even if you want to make it downloadable for media outlets to use. Ever get frustrated with the related videos YouTube promotes at the end of your video? With Vimeo, you can easily turn those off or even create customized call to action, suggested links or other resources for more information.
Something Vimeo doesn’t offer is public searchability. Yes, you can make videos searchable on the platform, but Vimeo doesn’t receive anywhere near the search volume that YouTube receives and that’s not really how the platform is designed to work anyway. Vimeo also has some restrictions for free accounts (although honestly most people can do all they want with a free account) and paid accounts that offer much greater functionality and flexibility. Vimeo’s business level subscriptions comes it at around $600 a year, a fraction of what many customized video hosting solutions for business cost and you can easily use Vimeo to host all the other corporate video content for your website.
Dropbox vs Google Drive vs Box for Hosting Your Video Press Release Files
If you want to refrain from hosting you video press release online with a streaming service like YouTube or Vimeo, there are many options to upload the video directly to the cloud and send media a link to download the file. This is easy for many outlets because they are already familiar with most of these platforms and don’t have to spend time figuring out how to download the video. You can also easily add additional content like the press release text, photos, a media kit or additional company video to a folder you share.
Some of the biggest and most widely used cloud storage solutions to host your video press release files are Dropbox, Google Drive and Box. They all offer a lot of the same functionality making it easy to upload a video or any kind of file and generate an external share link that you can include with any statement or press release you send to the media. Be sure to double check file size upload limitations on your account (it can be small for free accounts) before you commit to this solution. Video files can be quite large, especially if they run over a few minutes, and you’ll need to make sure you’re able to upload them easily ahead of time.
Dropbox is possibly the most widely used for this kind of project. For Google Drive, you may just need to double check sharing permissions before you hit send because some administrators don’t automatically make Google Drive files accessible outside your company without checking a few additional boxes. Box is perhaps less widely used, but known for its robust data security. Box also does one more thing that public relations and communications professionals will love. When you generate a share link with Box, you have an option to ask Box to notify you with an email every time someone downloads your file. Not sure if reporters are looking at your video press release? Problem solved.
Host a Streaming Video Press Conference
In addition to sharing a recording of a video statement, another great option leveraging technology to reach a greater number of reporters is to hold a live streaming video press conference. It also gives you the option to invite local media who can attend in person while still including regional, national or trade media who could only join you online. You can schedule the event and send out your media advisory as normal, but be sure to include a link to the live stream you’ve set up ahead of time. For that, you can either schedule the live stream on a platform like YouTube or create a landing page on your website where you will embed the live stream player before the event begins. Also be sure to create a way for remote reporters to submit questions.
Live streaming video is a topic all its own, but YouTube Live is the standard for publicly available live streams, although they have recently added a threshold for which accounts can stream so make sure you have a large enough YouTube following and are clear to stream ahead of time. You could also stream via Facebook Live if your primary audience is there or some streaming software solutions allow you to stream to both simultaneously. If you have a Vimeo premium account, they have a spectacular live streaming services as well.
Live streaming can also be a very open and public experience. If your press conference is of a more sensitive nature, you may want to stream your event in a more limited, controlled environment. In that case, webinar and webcast services that support high quality video are great options and there are many software solutions for live streaming video webinars. Go To Webinar is an industry standard and very reliable option. It does not have all the bells and whistles of other services, but it works consistently which is very important for this kind of event and it will let you easily route a professional video camera and audio feed instead of your computer’s webcam for dramatically improved quality.
How to Live Stream a Video Press Conference
The equipment you’ll need to live stream a video press conference is the same as the suggested options above with a few additions. Ensure your video camera provides a clean HDMI or SDI video feed without any unnecessary overlay information like you find on many DSLR or Mirrorless Camera feeds. Then you need a way to route the video into a computer easily. The Blackmagic Web Presenter does this seamlessly and can even allow you to hook up two cameras and switch between them live during an event. You computer will recognize the Blackmagic Web Presenter as if it were a webcam. Just connect it to your camera and then select the Blackmagic Web Presenter as both your video and audio source.
For Go To Webinar and other webinar and webcasting services, that’s all you need. In order to use an external camera with live streaming services like YouTube Live, Vimeo Live or Facebook Live, you’ll need to set up an RTMP server and use an additional program like Open Broadcaster Software to connect your camera feed to the live streaming service. It may sound complicated at first, but it’s actually very simple. Here’s a good tutorial.
Conclusion, Setting Expectations and Next Steps
While the practice of using video press releases is growing, it is not common practice for many smaller organizations and may be unfamiliar to many reporters. Some reporters may initially refuse to use a video press release or statement in their story altogether, but there was a time when reporters refused to quote someone’s comments on Twitter too, and well… . Culture and practices change over time and forward thinking public relations practitioners can help encourage adoption of new practices and drive culture change with consistency and openness in your practice. That means your first several uses of a video press release or statement may not result in additional media coverage or quotations, but they will over time. Just as you build thought leadership and a reputation for your key people so reporters keep coming back when they need that expertise, newsrooms will learn that you provide recordings or live streams of press events and begin to plan their editorial calendar around them. For you, that means better relationships with media and more consistent coverage for your organization.