Lack of video will kill the press release

Failing to incorporate video into comms services is likely to leave the industry dangerously behind the times.

Zoë Clapp: comms director of UKTV
Zoë Clapp: comms director of UKTV

It is a customarily buzzy time: we’ve been directing a shoot with action hero Wesley Snipes, editing footage from Hollywood director JJ Abrams and filming comic stories from Noel Fielding and Jessica Hynes. And that’s just us in the PR team.

Let me explain why. This year, UKTV hired its first publicity producer in Aidan Hackett: a full-time film maker dedicated to sourcing, producing and editing branded, quality content for trade and consumer comms.

Content may be an overused buzzword now, but it’s been part of our philosophy for more than a decade, offering attention-grabbing content to the press that builds the reputation of an award-winning media network including channels such as Dave, Watch and Drama.

Video content in particular is no longer something to be saved for the year’s biggest campaigns. On average, it triples the interaction rate of social posts compared with text and image, and once seen is hugely persuasive: 70 per cent of people view brands more positively after watching interesting video from them, according to content marketing agency Axonn.

Not only that, dynamic content is now a basic media requirement. According to AOL, there are 27 million pieces of content published daily. Mail Online alone puts out more than 600 content-rich articles a day and as a meaningful service to the media, the responsibility is firmly with PR professionals to supply compelling content in useful formats.

Incorporating video services into every comms department will undoubtedly be an onerous advancement for some, but failing to adapt will leave our industry exposed.

My first PR job was at a fashionable comms agency. We phone-bashed while feeding press releases into fax machines. Transparencies on light boxes were a regular sight and the room was thick with a toxic fug from the glue used to display coverage for clients. When I tell younger colleagues about this experience they can’t quite tell if I’m joking, giving me the same look I expect them to receive in five years’ time when they tell their juniors that they used to send out press packs without professionally produced clips and A-roll footage.

I accept that progress has a price tag, but perhaps a more persuasive way to present the financial case is to consider the cost of not investing, and here are a couple of facts you can put at the top of your rationale. Firstly, neither News UK nor Guardian Media Group are predicting with any measure of certainty that their flagship national newspapers will exist in ten years’ time, being superseded as they are by the agility and reach of their dynamic online counterparts. And at the ultimate consumer end, it will be less than three years before video accounts for four-fifths of mobile net use.

The press release may not be dead, but it sure needs some 24 frame-per-second life support. It’s really not just TV companies that need producers. You need one too.

Zoë Clapp is comms director of UKTV

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