Today's video PR campaigns must include both traditional and online components to be successful
When teens dream of becoming filmmakers, many have no idea where to turn for guidance. That's why Samsung Fresh Films, a nationwide teen-filmmakers' program, reaches out to them where they live and breathe: online.
"We were looking for a program that would allow us to market to and speak to teens in a new way," says Cinco Calfee, senior manager of strategic marketing at Samsung Telecommunications. When Samsung came across Fresh Films two years ago, "we fell in love with it," she says.
Samsung provides teen filmmakers with cameras, cell phones, and other technology to use in making their films. Not only does it not feel as if Samsung is "forcing a corporate message down their throats," but the teens "get excited about Samsung and take our message virally out [on] the Internet."
While the use of viral video and other new-media initiatives is essential in connecting with teens, equally important is engaging parents, educators, and other adult influencers via traditional broadcast vehicles, says Alana Bardauskis, marketing manager for Dreaming Tree Films, the production company behind Fresh Films.
Indeed, as the media landscape continues to change, developing an integrated video campaign is a necessity for success. To generate exposure among teens and tech-savvy media, Samsung Fresh Films relies first on a "really robust viral marketing program," harnessing viral video, online social networks, blogging, and text messaging, notes Kelli Feigley, producer and owner of Dreaming Tree Films.
"We know that teens are not traditional media consumers," Bardauskis adds. "I'm trying to figure out ways to dig deeper and connect further with the audience."
From the start, the film festival-style program has been Internet-oriented; teens from across the US (6,000 in 2006) submit ideas online, and those who are chosen to produce films post them online for viewer voting (nearly 1.6 million voted in 2006) and commentary.
Because parents and teachers can be "influential in terms of motivating teens to pursue creative outlets," Bardauskis says, Dreaming Tree provides TV stations with traditional b-roll highlighting teens' on-the-shoot experiences.
"It's really compelling because it's the real deal," Feigley adds. "It's a great tool to showcase the [program's] excitement and energy."
"When seen on the local news, teens become instant heroes, and parents and school administration become excited," says Issa Sawabini, partner at Fuse, which handles Fresh Films' PR . "That helps drive interest both in the pre-program stage and from a voting standpoint. [It also helps] create legitimacy in the eyes of sponsors."
Mixing traditional and new media isn't limited to the entertainment space. When Boston Market asked its PR firm Fleishman-Hillard to create a campaign touting its "Time for Your School" fundraising program, the agency turned to On the Scene Productions (OTSP) for ideas to engage both parents and students.
"How do we speak to all the target audiences? That's the strategy we're trying to bring to the table as a PR video company," says Chris Poidomani, OTSP business development manager. While incorporating local and national TV cover- age seemed obvious for reaching parents, Poidomani says it was also crucial to have an online component to reach teens.
To create a connection between Boston Market restaurants and their local communities, Fleishman partnered with Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) to advocate safe alternatives to drug- and alcohol-filled prom after-parties, says Jeff Davis, SVP and senior partner for Fleishman consumer marketing.
Because parents are key influencers in fundraising initiatives, Davis says, Fleishman reached out to them via traditional broadcast components, including an April satellite and radio media tour focused on how to organize a local Boston Market fundraising event.
To target teens, the team created a dedicated MySpace page that included a sound bite from SADD's national student of the year.
So far, Boston Market has seen a sevenfold increase in enrolling high schools, Davis says. "It's just assumed knowledge now that we go into every consumer-facing program with a hybrid of online and offline," he adds.
Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE), too, found that hybrid to pay off in recent efforts on behalf of its Folding@Home/PS3 initiative, a forum to demonstrate its corporate commitment to medical research - and to encourage PlayStation 3 owners to participate in the Folding@Home project.
Because the processor inside each PS3 is significantly faster than a standard PC chip, Sony realized it could be used to simulate the folding of proteins, an exercise used in medical research to study how cells divide and mutate into diseases, says Kimberly Otzman, SCE senior corporate PR manager. Sony developed a special PS3 application that lets users connect directly to Stanford University's Folding@Home project, allowing it to harness the power of their idle machines to assist in research.
But the audience extended beyond PS3 enthusiasts, says Larry Thomas, COO of Medialink, the company's broadcast partner. The message had relevance, too, for the medical research community and its associated groups of patients, caregivers, and professionals.
So Medialink incorporated traditional VNRs and b-roll, as well as multimedia offerings distributed via its digital newsroom. It also posted viral videos on popular social networks. More than 14,000 active PS3 users connected to the program in the first week.
Keys to a successful integrated video PR effort
1 Use a variety of media tools: "It's not just about one channel or outlet for a PR message; have as many channels as you can afford to use," says Ed Lamoureaux, SVP at West Glen Communications.
2 Leave nothing on the cutting-room floor: Got great footage that didn't make b-roll? Put it on YouTube or another video-sharing site.
3 Consider your online goals in advance: Maybe you don't really need 50 million random impressions. Often, clients are better served by targeting very specific online demographics.
4 Respect traditional media: Teens may not be watching the 6pm news, but their parents and grandparents are - and so are some of your clients and their sponsors.
5 Social networking? Keep it real: "It's a huge challenge to connect with [teens] in a meaningful way, especially when the message is forced or doesn't resonate," notes Cinco Calfee, senior manager of strategic marketing at Samsung Telecommunications.