[MAPR Blog Post] Digital Video in a Viral World: Filmmaker Turns the Lens

The internet is built on video! Video has changed the way we capture, create and consume content from websites, blogs and social media. Fun fact: One of my first personal video cameras was a Flip Ultra HD when I was in middle school. The device allowed two hours of HD video, came with proprietary editing software, was battery-operated and cost less than $200. It was quite innovative at the time since smartphones weren’t equipped with HD video capabilities (or the space / speed required). Times have since changed and video capabilities are accessible by everyone. The fact that online video is a great way to connect with your audience and develop a following is undeniable.

Video in a Viral World Graphic

We all turn to images where numbers or words can’t get the job done. The concept of storytelling through photographs is nothing new. Photographs are compelling content, and this basically explains the popularity behind image sharing services like Pinterest and Instagram. There is a saying, “A picture is worth 1000 words.” In contrast, I would imagine a video is worth 100,000 words *snickers*. Funny enough as a content creator and filmmaker, my emphasis was never on personal videos, being a vlogger or YouTuber per se. I used visual storytelling to promote companies and causes, but me? Meh. Not so much. I spend much more time behind the camera than in front of it. I named this post “filmmaker turns the lens,” because I literally had to shoot myself … with the camera, what did you think I was talking about?

Screen-grab from Briana M. Andrews – Television Academy Foundation internship finalist video interview

Okay, story-time … recently, I was selected as a finalist for the Television Academy Foundation internship in Interactive Media (New Media / Social). This category blends my talents and interests because it’s a hybrid of photo, video, text, mobile, audio, social, animated-GIFs and EVERYTHING THAT SPARKLES. From what I hear, the candidates are selected by the same panel that pick Emmy winners. Nonetheless, I was super excited to even make the final round. Here’s the catch, one of the final requirements in request of consideration for the position is the completion of a web interview. When I tell you I had HireVue flashbacks … OMG. I hate it.

I learned something from the experience, though.  I am never the subject of my own videos!  I need to address this head-on and get as comfortable in front of the camera as I am behind it. In this week’s lecture, Professor Dunnington played a video clip from Amy Schmittauer.  Her book, Vlog like a Boss is next up on my reading list.

Let’s get away from me being a deer-in-headlights while in front the camera for a moment and revisit the importance of video content.  Below are a few highlights from two Dunnington lectures (on Digital Video and Vlogs, and Communicating with Images and Video in a Mobile and Viral World) and from David Meerman Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing and PR.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Photos and videos resonate with your audience MUCH MORE than text
  • People who write good captions and headlines improve SEO and capture good readership
  • Use photos that support the text … and write text that support the photo.
  • If you create an interesting story, others will share it for you.
  • When an idea takes off online, it can catapult your brand.
  • Find topics that interest you and pick subjects organically; don’t script things.
  • Videos WILL HELP introduce people to your business.
  • Use descriptive words (keywords) in file names. 

I recently finished reading the David Meerman Scott book and wrote a review.  Be on the lookout for that.  I am also attending the screening for our film, Daughters of Solanas tonight at the Museum of Moving Image in New York.  Bookmark my page and be on the lookout for updates.  Take care.

[MAPR Book Review] Social PR Secrets for Filmmakers and Content Creators

CONTENT IS KING! I enjoy reading titles with actionable, real-world tactics and extracting elements for creatives occupying digital space, particularly filmmakers. I’d like to share my review on the fourth edition of Lisa Buyers’ Social PR Secrets: How to Optimize, Socialize and Publicize Your Brand. I recently devoured the Kindle edition of this field guide on public relations, social media and digital marketing. I recommend checking out, it’s an easy read with strategies for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Snapchat and LinkedIn.

Public Relations Impact Graphic – Social Media and Digital Marketing.

Social PR Secrets packs 32 chapters, yet remains a relatively simple and quick read with short, easily-digestible chapters.  Buyers personalizes each chapter and often details her experience while offering examples and leaning on associated subject matter experts.  She provides historical context, the current state and best practices.  She also outlines tools such as Xtensio.com and Hubspot to create free persona profiles, tools like Paper.Li and Scoop.It for content curation tailored to your audience and ScribeContent.com for content optimization, search engine visibility and social sharing.

From the standpoint of a creative filmmaker who blends art with digital media, below are several excerpts from Social PR Secrets that are poised to assist with the development of an online strategy:

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Awesome content lasts forever
  • Stay fresh, find inspiration
  • Create materials and content that addresses the needs of your audience
  • Think like your audience, create a persona profile for your audience

Another key takeaway that I felt was important to point out for creatives is to “Skip self-promotion and find your passion points.”  For instance, Red Bull rarely talks about their drink, rather, it details the passion that connects the brand to their audience and living life to the extreme.  For another example, I recall a recent ad slot by Bumble app starring Serena Williams.  The commercial never referenced what the product is, rather, it details an ideology – one that supports women taking the first move in work, love and life.  The message resonated with me, and prompted me to research the company.  It is important not to get so caught up in the act of promoting your services and accomplishments that you overshadow what the brand represents.

CONTENT CREATION CHECKLIST

  • Make sure your message is REAL and AUTHENTIC
  • Use VISUALS to illustrate your message
  • Ensure the content has a CLEAR VALUE PROPOSITION
  • Offer a clear next step or CALL TO ACTION

TYPES OF CONTENT TO DRIVE MORE TRAFFIC (50 different types listed in Ch. 4)
Video, How-To, Email Campaigns, Events, Promotions, Live Chats, Guides, Infographics, Blog Posts, Interactive Content, Interviews, Tweets, Photo Galleries

Personally, I love that Social PR Secrets offers a comprehensive list of free graphic and image sources.  I also like that Buyers’ chapters are broken down by subject and platform.  The book has a list of bullets in almost every chapter making the material visually scannable, which makes for great reference document.  I finished reading the book, but will definitely revisit.  In short, I recommend this book (especially the digital version for search-ability and hyperlinks) and encourage you to check it out.

[MAPR Blog Post] SEO and Content Marketing for Filmmakers – The Basics

Graphic on SEO applicability to content creators and filmmakers

As a content creator, it is imperative to have an understanding of SEO and content marketing. This will help you navigate the online space and understand what “works” for the marketplace.  Most importantly, this will arm you with important tools for driving your works (and business) forward.  WE ARE ALL CONTENT MARKETERS NOW.  In this article, I’ll explore the intersection between content creation, search engine optimization and digital marketing.  I will also delve into Hyper Local SEO and Marketing – How US Marketers Win Global By Going Local by Donald L Dunnington, extracting the major points applicable to filmmakers and content creators.

The secret to successful content marketing isn’t actually a secret. It involves the commitment to producing a continuous stream of useful and engaging content. A poignant statement from Dunnington is, “SEO is the new PR and PR is the new SEO.” While SEO media relations are focused on online media and search engine results pages (SERPS), there are comparable objectives with public relations professionals, since the emphasis for both are increasing brand awareness, relationship building and boosting placements.

The digital age takes content production to a hyper level and there is a premium placed on consumer-friendly, authentic content. This holds true for various platforms: websites, blogs, YouTube channels, social media etc.  As filmmakers, we are all looking for innovative marketing strategies to engage our expand our audience.  This involves researching your niche audience and how to reach them.  I mention this to stress the importance of SEO and relationship building.  I will write additional articles on avenues, such as posting behind-the-scenes moments, creating graphics, strategically hashtagging and personalizing the experience for your audience.  Stay tuned, and bookmark my site.

Key Takeaways:

  • CONTENT IS KING. Quality in-bound links start with producing original, quality, authentic and compelling content for online, social and mobile platforms.
  • WE ARE ALL CONTENT MARKETERS NOW. This is the prime driver of sales leads for B2B and B2C industries.
  • SEO is the new PR and PR is the new SEO.
  • Develop a personal touch, stay in contact, maintain a two-way relationship.
  • Relationships are built in relevancy, quality and the value they bring to the vertical market they serve.

Sidebar: One lesson I learned directly from the author, Donald Dunnington, who happens to be the professor of my grad-level public relations course at Rowan University is that Google penalizes sites that contain duplicate content. This was important because I had a secondary site geared toward women in tv and film where I would republish some of my articles and blog posts first featured on this website.  After this discovery, I later elected to create a category page.  There are important technical considerations involved in our quest for SEO relevance.  Oftentimes, creators share the same content across social media and various platforms, however, with blogs in particular, even if you are the original author, you should be mindful of mirroring duplicate content across sites because there are associated search engine penalties.

[MAPR Blog Post] The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How the Web Changed the Rules

Social Media Bullseye Graphic: PR Spam, Marketing Activities

One of my latest Kindle readings include, The New Rules of Marketing & PR – 6th Edition by David Meerman Scott.  In coming weeks, I’ll post more of a comprehensive book review, however, for this blog post I’ll highlight some of the gems highlighted in Chapter 20, New Rules for Reaching the Media. 

For a long time, public relations professionals viewed coverage as a numbers game … full-on blitz, reach out to as many journalists and outlets as you can.  The process was literally, “throwing crap against the wall to see what sticks.”  The non-targeted e-blasts and sleezy methods to lure people to open the messages are partially why strategic communicators received a reputation as spammers. 

The web changed the rules and traditional PR techniques are becoming less effective.  To provide an example and illustrate using layman’s terms; there are parallels between a PR rep securing coverage, and an individual securing a job.  I say this because in one point in time, people were able to blast resumes and play the numbers game, with hopes of landing some interviews.  Now-a-days, attempting the same wouldn’t be effective, in fact, you’d be agitating people.  The process takes time, and personalization.  You have to KNOW the company, understand what comes along with the role, research the applicants they are likely to hire, understand expectations etc.  Letters and resumes need to be customized and even then, it needs to be keyword heavy since pretty much every company has software to scan and eliminate who they deem to be unqualified.   Your resume may never even reach a human. 

Networking is key, because nothing trumps personal relationships.  You’d be surprised how many companies post positions as a formality when they already know who they want.  In both the PR example and the  individual finding a job example, it is very much a “Don’t call me … I’ll find you.”  Correspondence must be personalized, pay attention to the stories a journalist is likely to cover, develop personal relationships; send individualized pitches and target one reporter at a time.  Do what you can to build your audience and showcase your own brand in the best possible light.  This includes having a comprehensive online media room including photos and videos.  “To get noticed, you need to be smart about how you tell your story on the web – and about how you tell your own story to journalists.”

Some key takeaways are as follows:

  • Refrain from sending non-targeted broadcast pitches
  • Develop personal relationships and send an individualized pitch, tailored to the needs of the journalist
  • Target one reporter at a time and pay attention to the types of stories they cover
  • Content drives marketing … make sure your information is up to date, define your niche and use hashtags

Imagine This! Girl Power Film + Media Summit – Attendee Reflection

Briana M. Andrews attends Girl Power Film + Media Summit in New York in March 23, 2019.

This past weekend I attended the Girl Power Film + Media Summit and Showcase in New York.  This event was presented by Imagine This Productions (creators of the Women’s International Film Festival).  I had a phenomenal time, and I am still working my way through the goodie bag containing Cinema Femme Magazine, Eden BodyWorks, Good! Snacks, Ursa Major 4-in-1, Curls liquid hair growth vitamins and more.  I love freebies! 

As a small business owner who actively freelances, I’ll admit, getting my P’s and Q’s together from a business standpoint was definitely a work in progress. I am a creator, and at least initially, my focus was primarily on doing what I love … creating! I spent countless hours developing my craft, writing screenplays, filming, editing etc. However, the same level of dedication wasn’t replicated from a financial perspective. It is no secret that many filmmakers struggle to monetize their projects. Many never quite make it out of the red. I am happy to reach a stage where I can actively book freelance projects and assist companies with telling their stories. However, that is only a start! I wasn’t quite as diligent as I should have been with invoicing, retaining receipts, tracking mileage etc. From a tax standpoint, I am almost certain I left money on the table. Nonetheless, I was eager to soak information up like a sponge at the summit and implement findings with my own practice.

Panel 1: The Female Gaze – Cinematographers’ Talk included a lineup of accomplished ladies of the lens.  The overarching theme was that these ladies don’t wish to be an anomaly.  They desire increased integration so it’s not a shock when they are on set, let alone behind the camera.  All of the panelist emphasized the importance of networking, as fostering relationships can work wonders for your career, and you will learn more in the field than you will ever learn in a classroom.

Summit Attendee Pass, Branded Materials and Goodie Bag from the #GirlPowerSummit

Discussion included female representation in film, and offered insights into their creative processes.  Some of the panel members started out with Canon 7D, Bolex or Super 8 cameras.  There was dialogue about affluent students at some of the nation’s most revered film programs having access to state-of-the-art equipment, and not experiencing challenges securing funding to shoot their student films. Isabella Tan, founder of Rebel Motion attended NYU.  She stated, “Some people are privileged and have funding for great equipment, don’t get discouraged.” A poignant response statement from Valentina Caniglia, Director & Cinematographer of “Gypsy” and “The Stand” is “a great camera can still produce a bad product.” 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Camera doesn’t matter! It is about the cinematographer who tells the camera what to do.
  • Emphasis should be placed on THE STORY and DRIVING THE NARRATIVE, LENS SELECTION, LIGHTING and TONE.
  • Ultimately, the director and overall collaboration are greater project contributors than equipment.

The Distribution Down Low with Christina Raia from Seed & Spark was particularly informative.  Christina is a Crowdfunding Director who successfully led several campaigns.  Distribution is usually a confusing topic for independent creators, so it was wonderful to have her break it down with tips and tricks, and an explanation of the economics for every aspect from VOD to theatrical.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Understand the importance of DATA TRANSPARENCY.  Raia stated, “They don’t want to share the info because it gives power to the creators.”
  • DON’T COMMIT to only one revenue source.
  • Explore niche markets and innovative ideas to reach your audience.  TAKE RISKS with your independent film.

This was my first time attending an event held by and geared towards women in film and media. This blog post barely grazes the surface with topics discussed. Overall, the atmosphere was amazing and definitely female-centric! I’d like to thank Susie and Patrice, the organizers and everyone else involved with bringing this event together. I am also extremely grateful for the guest-list addition (as the tickets were $95 otherwise). The Girl Power Film + Media Summit & Showcase was worth much more than the ticket price. The value of the knowledge I walked away with far exceeded the associated cost.

[MAPR Blog Post] Gen Z Usage Evaluation | Social Media Strategy: Return of the MAC

There are many factors to contend with when developing an online presence, whether personally, professionally or on a client’s behalf.  Basic PR 101 prompts us to revisit the good ‘ole MAC Triad … MESSAGE, AUDIENCE and CHANNEL.  The first step in your social media strategy should be to determine your MESSAGE  Essentially, this is the WHAT and WHY of your page.  What is your page about?  What is your call-to-action or desired outcome?  Why would a visitor be interested in your content?  Next, you determine your AUDIENCE.  This represents WHO and HOW of targeted company messages.  Who are you trying to connect with?  How would they benefit from your product of service?  Last you have the channel, which represents WHERE and WHEN of message dissemination.  Where are you posting? Twitter? Instagram? Facebook? When are you posting?  Research should be conducted to determine optimal time for engagement and post frequency for each platform.

As many of you know, I manage the socials for BibbyFame Digital, LLC.  However, aside from my personal and professional usage, I was also elected to the e-Board for the Theta Mu Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.  As Epistoleus, I serve as the Chapter Historian, as well as the Social Media and Public Relations Chair.  I manage our social media accounts, with large premium placed on our Instagram and Rowan University ProfLink.  I write captions, design flyers, take photographs, produce social video etc.  In addition, I monitor engagement, use appropriate hashtags and respond to inquiries.  Since assuming the role in July 2018, I developed and implemented a strategy to foster organic growth.  Content is centered on the following objectives:

  • To promote events and programs
  • To visually document our sisterhood and the overall experience of being a Soror in Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
  • To highlight chapter member achievements
  • To demonstrate chapter participation in volunteer and community-serving activities
  • To raise awareness for select causes

As the saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  All Theta Mu posts are planned in accordance with the Chapter events calendar.  Some of the accounts followed include @SGRhoUpdates @SGRhoNER for our organization headquarters and region. Last summer, when working as a Photo & Video Intern for Jill Lotenberg, I filmed and edited an interview with Ryan Serhant from Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing.  During the interview, he summarized their social media strategy and explained the importance planning out company posts in advance for each week.  He also shared how he uses analytics to steer activity.  For instance, based on statistics for his company and industry, posts are primed for the most impressions and engagement during the workday.  He mentioned aiming to post around 2pm EST. 

An important takeaway from my Epistoleus work and internship experiences which include socials / digital / interactive is to maintain professionalism in the online space.  Something as simple as a spelling error can negatively impact company credibility.  If the company uses specific styling, colors and fonts, it is imperative that consistency is maintained without deviation.  The logo, crest and artwork must have the correct sizing and proportion.  We’ve all observed images that are stretched and can agree that isn’t the company impression you’d like to leave.  Social media revolutionized the way we share and distribute information; proper usage can provide tremendous value. 

Facebook vs Instagram, Advantages and Disadvantages – Discussion Post 7 | PR 06301 – Basic PR Writing

Many social media options exist for strategic communicators to deliver messages, and for companies to brand itself. A few options available include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google+. Focusing on Facebook and Instagram specifically, there are advantages and disadvantages associated with each platform.

With Facebook, there are many ways a company can benefit from using this site. Recent statistics indicate Facebook exceeds two-billion users. Instagram is at about 800-million. This provides companies with incredible reach potential. On Facebook, people use their real-names and have personal connections which lend to sharing and can help from a credibility perspective. Instagram has less personal “real-life” connections, aliases are common-place and profile information is often fabricated. On Facebook, business can target users based on profile information, engage and ask questions, provide links, schedule posts for optimal effectiveness and add eye-catching visuals. Facebook also has a solid website and mobile platform, whereas Instagram is primarily a mobile destination. On Instagram, there isn’t as much of an emphasis on sharing and re-posting the way you’d find on Facebook. However, there is an opportunity to use stunning visuals and short-videos. People “read” on Facebook, but they visit to Instagram to “see.”

From a business perspective, a downside is that people don’t use social media to view advertisements. Ad placement on Facebook is easy to ignore. On Instagram, ads are integrated on the feed in a way that makes it natural to view. Ideally, both sites can be used for engagement to build relationships with target audiences by posting relevant content. While many possible benefits exist, there are also many ways social media can stand to hurt a business. For instance, there is pressure to actively use the platform. Having infrequent posts can be considered even worse than not having a page at all from a branding perspective. Also, you are giving content to each site your business is active on. For some businesses, this takes away from the time and dedication spent on developing its own company site. A business shouldn’t drive traffic to another platform for its products and services. More content on social media can translate to less e-newsletter sign-ups, less reporters utilizing its newsroom, less target audience web traffic and ultimately, less backend data it has access to. Social media should be used as a tool to drive people to the company website and events.

Another disadvantage is lost control of the message. People start to share and change the message, leave comments, create memes and so forth. Social media also forces public customer service because you have direct communication with reporters and your audiences. There is pressure to respond to items expeditiously, and during times of crisis – there is an incredibly fast pace. Analytics is an area that served as an advantage primarily for Facebook, but now the playing field is almost even. Facebook has distinctive business profiles that allowed advertisers and businesses access to promotional tools and additional information on traffic (number of visitors, time spent, links clicked, gender) etc. This information is now available on business profiles in Instagram.

Media Kit Components – Discussion Post 5 | PR 06301 – Basic PR Writing

Public Relations and Digital MarketingThe media kit is a package of information that allows a company to present itself as it would like to be seen.  The public relations professional uses the media kit to make it easy for the media to use supplied stories about their clients.  Press kits can be found online in a company’s media room, however, for live events, the media kit can be supplied as a printed package. There are several components included in the media kit.  In this discussion post, I will highlight six items commonly found in a media kit – the press release, backgrounder, fact sheet, key contacts, social media links and audio / video.  Some other items that can be included are Q&A, biography and position paper.

The press release / news release is communication directed at members of the news media to announce newsworthy items.  In the media kit, the releases should be placed in reverse chronological order.  The backgrounder is a lengthy report that uses subheads.  It supplies historical perspective about a company or event for staff writers’ use in publications.  The fact sheet is a one-page document, bulleted for easy access, that lists items of interest about the company, event, product or service.  It provides reporters with details that can easily be inserted into their articles.  Key contacts must be included in media kit.  This provides the media with the contact information for a company representative if they need to clarify a point or obtain an answer to a question.  Social media links allow reporters to easily find RSS feeds, company blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram accounts and YouTube videos.  Audio / Video can include high resolution photographs, streaming video, podcasts, audio recordings, logos and PowerPoint presentations, among others.  Providing a Q&A section saves time by eliminating the need for company employees to repeatedly answer the same questions.  It is a section to provide answers to commonly asked questions.  A position paper is a persuasive editorial that provides the official company stance on an issue.  

Main Differences Between Print and Electronic News Releases – Discussion Post 4| PR 06301 – Basic PR Writing

Public Relations and Digital MarketingBoth the print press release and electronic news release are effective methods of delivering newsworthy information about a business.  They are similar in nature, and the requirements for each include effective writing, grammar, planning and critical thinking.  The main differences between a print and electronic news release are audience and channels of distribution.  Traditional press releases target newspaper reporters, magazines, radio stations and television stations.  Electronic news releases cut out the middle man and are crafted to address the end user.   Print releases pitch to media outlets, while electronic versions pitch to media and directly to consumers.

Several features distinguish the two news release types.  For instance, electronic news releases are distributed by email.  It features a strong call to action, electronic contact information and includes links to photos and biographies. The online release includes mostly summary data with links to where additional info can be obtained.  Also, electronic news releases don’t include a boiler plate paragraph.  Print releases are generally longer and tend to include more quotes.

 

 

 

Pitfalls of Writing for the Media – Why Does the Media Dislike PR People? – Discussion Post 3| PR 06301 – Basic PR Writing

There are many challenges associated with writing for the media.  Several pitfalls related to media writing coincide with the reasoning for disdain aimed at PR people.  Historically, public relations professionals held careers beginning in journalism; practitioners would come directly from the newspaper industry.  This enabled strategic communicators to think and write like journalists.  Both journalists and PR professionals are skilled communicators.  On one end, you have media gatekeepers and on the other, you have professionals seeking to gain access to media outlets on behalf of a client or cause.  PR is rooted in persuasion and conviction, however, people don’t like being “sold” on things.  PR people are hired to research, plan and develop a strategy to deliver a message and mold perception.  Understanding the scope of the profession inherently makes people skeptical.

Public Relations and Digital MarketingPR people are responsible for disseminating factually accurate, grammatically-correct, timely and localized information of interest to the publication’s audience.  In many cases, PR writers craft releases to pitch to media gatekeepers.  The approach used should differ from tactics used when writing directly for the reading public.  With the increased use of internet-based media outlets, many publications are eliminating editors.  Poor writing becomes a matter of contention between the media and PR writers.  Reporters and editors resent PR people dumping news on them that isn’t truly newsworthy.  Other negative attributes include formula writing, bad verbs and quotes, excessive titles, subjective adjectives, overhyped statements and fluff.

PR professionals are often placed in a difficult position when the clients they represent are adamant about the inclusion of certain information.  An example of poor insertion at client request include direct quotes from the CEO in the lead.  Other reasons for media professionals disliking PR people include not adhering to the AP Stylebook, and not including all information in the release such as social media links, audio/visual links and key contacts.