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  • January 15, 2021

    2021 Marketing Trends

    2020 brought forth a whirlwind of emotions and unexpected experiences. However, we have entered a new year and we now have new things to look forward to. 2021 is particularly going to be a unique year for marketing, and one of the best things that 2020 taught us was to be prepared for anything. This will be a transitional year in many ways as we hopefully come out of the pandemic and enter a new normal. Here’s a summary of what you can expect this year in marketing.

    Purpose Driven Brands

    The summer of 2020 ignited a renewed surge for racial justice in this country and put tremendous pressure on companies to make a “change.” We’ve seen many brands step up and take action. Some created programs to help racial equality in their own organizations and others started funds to support Black businesses and equality efforts. Overall, consumers are looking for brands that have purpose behind them. It is not just enough to “sell” anymore. Consumers want the brands they support to support the same issues they do. Companies have advantages that the average person doesn’t; such as influence, capital and reach. A brand that utilizes those resources to tackle an issue builds a strong connection with a consumer that shares similar views. 

    A brand shouldn’t support something as a business tactic. Consumers can smell a phony from miles away. A major part of becoming a purpose driven brand is authenticity. Each step you take needs to be out of an effort to help, rather than out of self-interest. This year more than ever, consumers are going to pay close attention to the brands they buy from. It’s on you, as the company, to transition authentically, as needed. 

    Black Lives Matter Protest

    Easy to Consume Content

    One trend that has been steadily growing over the past years is content that is easy to consume. This type of content comes in many forms; such as short videos, infographics and podcasts. They are all are easy to read, watch or listen and can be consumed nearly anywhere. Short videos are more prominent then ever since the rise of Tik Tok and other similar platforms. Google has even added these platform’s videos onto its video carousel that appears during a search. Infographics are effective ways to engage an audience by displaying the information you want to convey in a fun and interactive way. Last, podcasts have become one of the most popular forms of content. There’s even a war at hand… a podcast war that is. Companies from Spotify, Apple, and Amazon are fighting to become THE podcast platform. Each of these have one thing on common, they allow you to deliver the information you want to consumers… most of which have small attention spans.

    Point of view of women looking down at feet with her phone in her hand and headphones plugged in.

    Virtual Events

    Virtual events have existed in the past but never like this. 2020 made the digital word our reality. This was always going to happen; this past year just accelerated it. Now that virtual events are here to stay, you must know how to use them properly. These events can be extremely useful for your business by allowing your consumers to connect with you in a more personal way. There’s a lot that goes into setting up and hosting a virtual event. Luckily, we’ve done a whole blog on it that you can check out here.

    This year is going to look very different, so it’s important that you continuously listen for new trends that will emerge. We’re sure there’ll be many that we never saw coming. The SRB team is hopeful that 2021 will treats us better than 2020. Oh, and by the way…Happy New Year!

  • December 22, 2020

    Spreading Cheer with 2020’s Best Holiday Ads

    Here at SRB Communications, we believe that one of the best ways to raise spirits during the holiday is to share some cheer. What better way to do that, than to reflect on some impactful holiday ads? So, set aside your, “Bah Humbug!” and enjoy a few ads that we feel are the best of the season.

    1. Xfinity

    One of our first favorites came from Xfinity and their collaboration with Steve Carell as Santa. This ad addressed the current year head-on and touched on all of the challenges we have had to face, adapt to and overcome. This approach allowed for an optimistic rise as one continues through the rest of the ad. Steve Carell adds some much-needed comic relief and gives us a Santa that will make you look forward to the holidays ahead.

    Santa, played by Steve Carell, tasks his elves with creating new and exciting gifts to raise the spirits after the hard year.

    2. PayPal

    Our next choice comes from PayPal. This one takes a less direct approach at addressing the current state of society, but it’s clear that they aren’t ignoring it. One of the best parts of this one is the fact that there are no spoken words throughout the entire ad. The creativity comes from the story that the visuals represent. There’s a lot of little things you can pick up each time you watch this ad.

    A dad makes it his mission to create the perfect backyard stage for his daughter’s nutcracker dance after not being able to attend the real show in person. The dad makes several purchases online with PayPal throughout his journey.

    3. Microsoft

    The last ad we want to show you is from Microsoft. There’s not a lot to say here other than, who doesn’t love dogs? Microsoft reveals how simple it is to put a smile on our faces. Nothing will boost the spirits of the audience like getting plopped into the dreams of a dog. However, it does a good job of highlighting a lot of their products at the same time in a fun and creative way.

    A dog wanders to each of this human companions at home only to find them on a Microsoft device. After laying down to sleep, he dreams he is participating in all the activities the humans had been doing.

    Now, these are just a few of the ones we liked, but of course there’s plenty more out there. This holiday season we challenge you to pay attention to the ads that make you smile and spread some holiday cheer by sharing them with others. Happy holidays from the SRB team! See you in 2021!

  • December 11, 2020

    Holiday Marketing Tips for 2020

    2020 has dampened the Holiday spirit making it harder for businesses to market themselves. While this year’s Holiday season has already proven to be different, it doesn’t mean that we can’t create an effective marketing strategy and spread some cheer at the same time. So, strap on those elf ears, don those ugly sweaters, and let’s get to work with these 3 tactics.

    Email marketing

    The 2000s called and they want their email marketing back!  While email may seem like an out-of-date method to reach customers, it is one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to make a conversion.

    Content is what matters most when it comes to email marketing. The Holidays are a busy time of the year, so offering customers convenience is key to increasing sales.  Making it easy to purchase the products they see is a must. That shirt they like better have a “buy now” button underneath or the sale is as good as gone. Overall, the name of the game is getting the customer to the checkout in as few clicks as possible.

    Website

    Less people are going to be rushing out on Christmas Eve to the mall to get that last-minute gift. That means that online shopping will be more important than any other year before.

    Your website needs to be up-to-date, welcoming, and easy to navigate. Go visit your website right now…Be on the lookout for any pain points a customer might experience on their way to the checkout. Pain points are revenue killers. Like we said, the holidays are a busy time and customers are looking for convenience. Your website should load fast and have user-friendly steps to get them to the checkout as smoothly and quickly as possible.

    While you’re already checking out your website, why not spruce it up a bit! Deck the halls with boughs of holly! Since we won’t have big Christmas parties or tree lightings to go to, make your website as festive as possible and give the customer a boost of Holiday spirit to spread to others.

    Girl holding out gift with candy canes

    Social Media Community

    It’s time we put the social back in social media. One of the best parts of the holidays is the sense of community we feel throughout the months. Obviously, much of what we love about the season has changed and people are searching for some sort of replacement. Engage with your followers. Reply to comments and spark conversations. Post things that foster the community they’re looking for. Use your social media to drive more people to interact with each other. As the hub of the new community, people will naturally begin to engage with your brand. It’s a great way to build an authentic persona for people to respond to; this year, people need that.

    Facebook App on Phone

    Above all, remember that this year has been hard for many. People are looking for a little cheer. Be authentic with every strategy you implement. Also, be safe, focus your efforts on online sales, and wear a mask!

    Happy Holidays!

  • November 27, 2020

    Building a World of Accessibility

    They say marketing is a reflection of society and society is a reflection of marketing. However, if you were an alien that just landed on earth and looked at the ads the marketing industry produce, you would never know people have disabilities. Our efforts to include everyone is often directed at ensuring diversity in race, gender and sexual orientation, but people with disabilities need representation too. It also important to focus on the accessibility of your marketing as well. So, we’ll look at the wrong and right ways to include people with disabilities in your marketing while also making that marketing accessible.

    Inclusion

    According to the CDC, around 26%, or one in four people, have a disability of some sort. Besides the ethical obligations, lack of inclusion is just bad business. However, inclusion marketing is a balancing act. The end goal is inclusion and allyship, but too often marketers miss the mark. They either offer pity in the ad or use it as a source of inspiration. Pity is obviously not what people with disabilities want; they want inclusion. Inspiration doesn’t sound that bad but who is it inspiring. Often times, it actually makes a non-disabled person feel good and better for having watched it. These approaches are wrong and offer little to people with disabilities.

     A good way to ensure you’re focusing on inclusion is to ask yourself who the ad is for. If your intent is to include people with disabilities in the conversation and give them the same representation, use that to drive the message of your ad. It’s also important to acknowledge the intersectionality of a person with a disability. The disability does not define who they are; it’s valid to focus on the other things that make them who they are.

    Like any other group, representation matters within the industry as well. Diversity should be seen in the company at every level. The C-suite is made for everyone and people with disabilities can and should assume those positions. Often businesses create programs to offer resources and paths to executive positions for certain groups. Reflect on your own company’s efforts and see what you can do better to do the same for people with disabilities.

    Man using accessibility keyboard

    Accessibility

    Accessibility starts with you and the choices you make every day. When you are hosting an online event, do you describe the pictures and yourself for those who may be visually impaired or blind? Do you make sure there’s captions for those who are hearing impaired or deaf? These are the things we should all be reminding ourselves. Accessibility is on you and your company.

    Other things you should focus on is your website. There are many ways to optimize your site for accessibility. Start by including images with alt text. This allows a person who is visually impaired or blind to still access all the content. You can also allow users to enhance the font size and reevaluate other content like videos to ensure their accessibility as well. It’s important to note that there are disabilities of all types; some you can see and others you can’t. Try to address everyone’s need in redesigning your site.

    One of the biggest problems with companies promoting themselves as accessible or “disability friendly” is that it means nothing. If you say on your site that your business is “disability friendly”, it’s like saying someone asking you what you do to make your business accessible and replying with, “Yes.” You gave no detail to actually explain what about your business makes it “disability friendly”. Instead of saying it, show it. Have “disability facts” listed on your site. These facts can include information about parking, bathrooms, alternative entrances, and other things your business offers.

    Pink sign showing accessibility entrance

    Diversity means everyone. It’s on all of us to start and live it as an ever day effort. It’s important to be conscious of it and push for more inclusion in our marketing, our companies, and our communities. There’s plenty of resources out there to help guide you on what to do; take the first step and build a community that is accessible no matter one’s race, gender, sexual orientation, or ability.

  • November 12, 2020

    How to Host a Virtual Event

    Kids are going to school… online. Adults are going to work… online. People are meeting up with friends… online. COVID-19 has truly pushed everything, and everyone online, so why would events be any different?  One thing is for sure, these events don’t need to be a somber reminder of the current state of the world; they can be just as good as any other event, if you take the following key tips into consideration!

    Select the best platform for your needs

    The first step in hosting a virtual event is choosing the platform to hold it on. To do this, you need to ask yourself what type of event you’re holding. The size, cost, duration other event logistics are important to consider when making a decision. There are many platforms to select from like Zoom Webinar, Google Meet, and Join.me.

    Obviously, there’s many more out there, so do your due diligence and research as many platforms as possible to find the one that’s right for you. Remember to think about cost; some platforms will take a percentage of what you charge attendees to register, or if you’re hosting it for free, they’ll have you pay per attendee. Also, many have a limit on the number of people that can register.

    Practice and Prepare

    Practice makes perfect, and to host a virtual event you need a lot of it. Hosting requires you to jungle many balls at once. You need to make sure the event is smooth and flows from topic to topic or speaker to speaker depending on the type of event you’re conducting. This will help retain the attention of the audience. We all know it’s much easier to get distracted on your computer than it is in person.

    Practice also comes in the form of familiarizing yourself with the platform you chose. Know what features come with the platform, specifically what you’re able to do and not do. Hosting a mock event is highly recommended as this will ensure you and your speakers feel comfortable. It’s better to learn and work out the kinks before the event than in the middle of the event.

    Part of your preparation is also to make the information for registration clear. Odds are this is new for people thus well-defined instructions on how to register, how to access the event, and who to contact for help are imperative.

    Engage the Audience

    As previously stated, it’s important to retain your audience’s attention. That means actively having them participate during the event. Some platforms are better than others for this. For instance, Zoom Webinar allows you to set private and group panelist chats for attendees and panelists. You can also manage and share audience input in Q&A dialog boxes and attendees can raise their virtual hand to be called on.

    If you don’t want to use a tool like this, use the tried and true method of live tweeting. This is a great way to have the audience be part of the conversation and even discuss among themselves without disrupting the event. This can also be utilized for a Q&A. It’s important to think about what hashtags you may want to use for your event and how they will be used. By doing this, you also allow for user generated content to advertise your event for either post event video release or future events you may hold.

    No matter the method you use, make sure to be active in the chat with your attendees. Pose questions to the audience, answer small questions people have, and keep the conversation going as well as moving. If the chat gets stale, people will lose interest. Make sure that somebody is responsible for keeping the chat lively.

    COVID-19 has changed how we behave, how we socialize, and how we work. These tips are important to perfect as we continue to battle this virus. And even when the world moves passed this pandemic and returns to “normal”, we can’t be sure our behaviors will. The world is changing. Technology is advancing, and it’s possible that COVID-19 only accelerated the timeline of virtual life.

  • July 7, 2020

    OpEd: We can’t allow the public health emergency to worsen DC’s child care crisis

    Shared adversity can bring a community together, and I’m happy to see that greater Washington is responding in solidarity in the face of both racial inequality and the immense public health challenge of COVID-19. 

    These two problems are intertwined. In addition to its tragic human cost, the pandemic has elevated the risk that existing inequality of opportunity in the District may worsen.

    Here in DC, we face significant opportunity gaps from ward to ward. For example, as of 2018, at least 12% of children were living in poverty in six of DC’s eight wards. However, in wards 7 and 8, that rate exceeded 39%. Ward 8 also has the highest number of children under age 5 and an infant mortality rate that is more than double the national average.

    This tells us that, when it comes to giving people the tools to develop and build their talents, we need to start early. Thankfully, the city made progress on this front by passing the Birth-to-Three for All DC Act of 2018, an important stride toward making sure that all young children have access to quality early childhood programs.

    However, without supporting the act with additional measures and meaningful investments, the opportunity gaps that plague our city will persist — and will do so in a way that impacts young people’s educational prospects and their future career prospects.

    One of these challenges is the lack of access to affordable, high-quality child care.

    Even before the pandemic, our nation was in the midst of a child care crisis, as demonstrated in a recent ReadyNation report. The report found that the lack of high-quality, affordable child care for infants and toddlers (children age 0 to 3) exacts a heavy toll on working families and our economy, costing our economy an incredible $57 billion per year. The reason this figure is so high is the dramatic, negative impact that the crisis has on productivity, tax revenue and workers’ earnings.

    And it’s no wonder why. Like many places around the country, DC has far more infants and toddlers than it does available high-quality child care. At the same time, the average cost of child care in the District is more than the average price of public, in-state college tuition in most places around the country.

    The child care crisis is also a two-generation problem. As working parents scramble to find care, children often wind up in less-than-ideal early childhood settings. Those experiences create impacts that society won’t feel until these children grow into their teenage years or adulthood. 

    Without access to high-quality learning and care during this critical time, a child’s chances of being “kindergarten-ready” diminish. That deficit on day one of elementary school may persist for the duration of the child’s educational career, which, in turn, leads to those opportunity gaps I mentioned a moment ago.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has made funding child care infrastructure even more urgent. Most child care providers are fundamentally small businesses, and many of them face economic hardship, even closure. 

    As a journalist, entrepreneur, business owner and longtime advocate for equity and women’s issues, I understand that these topics are inextricably tied to the child care industry. Providers now feel unprecedented pressures on their own bottom line, and the families they serve are enduring immense hardships. Therefore, we must commit to supporting, strengthening and maintaining the child care infrastructure now, so that the existing child care crisis isn’t worsened by our current health emergency. 

    There are more than 26,500 infants and toddlers under age 3 in DC, but only about 7,600 licensed child care slots. COVID-19 has the potential to make this situation even more dire, with some providers having no choice but to close absent sufficient support for the child care sector. Investments to preserve existing slots and help make up this shortfall will pay dividends to greater Washington now and in the future. Likewise, funding that helps parents navigate a system that costs, on average, $2,020 per month per infant will help ease that imposing financial burden on lower-income families.

    Protecting the child care sector is critical. Investments to do so will make businesses and working parents more productive today, and help ensure that the next generation of Washingtonians will grow up better prepared to leverage their talents and build the future we all want — a stronger and more equitable community over the long run.

    This OpEd was written by Sheila Brooks, Ph.D., founder, president and CEO of SRB Communications. It was originally published here by The DC Line, a nonprofit media organization dedicated to covering DC local news.

  • May 14, 2020

    Women in Marketing and Communications

    As we come to the end of Women’s History Month, we would like to take this opportunity to highlight some women who are making meaningful and powerful change in the communications industry. These profiles provide only a small glimpse into all of the vast accomplishments these women have made in their life. We encourage you to learn more about these women and inspire yourself through their journeys. Happy Women’s History Month!

    Name: Imani Greene
    Company: GreeneGroup
    Current Title: Founder and Principal Consultant
    Education: Hampton University

    About: After honing her marketing skills as Vice President at Meredith Xcelerated Marketing for 2 years and then as the Senior Vice President and Media Director at Ogilvy for 9 years, Greene decided to start her own business, GreeneGroup. For 6 years now, GreeneGroup has offered advertising and communications solutions to businesses in almost every vertical and industry. Greene is well-versed in advertising strategy, campaign design/development, media planning/buying, content distribution and discovery. She has provided work for clients such as CDC, ASAE (American Society of Association Executives), NEAMB (National Education Association Member Benefits), MetLife, and Washington Nationals. On top of the exceptional work at GreeneGroup, she also sits on the boards of the National Press Foundation and Dress for Success Washington DC. She is devoted to serving her community through her over 20 years of mentoring, tutoring and volunteering. Imani has even established “Everyday Inspirations,” an organization connecting young mothers to trailblazers who can help inspire them.

    Accomplishments:

          • MediaWeek’s Media Plan of the Year – ($10-25MM category) for Smith Barney
          • Led numerous integrated advertising/PR campaigns that received prestigious industry awards, including AdWeek Media Plan of the Year, American Advertising Federation, Effie
          • Written up in multiple case studies for superior innovation, by Google Business and Twitter Business

         

    Name: Lisa Osborne Ross
    Company: Edelman
    Current Title: U.S. Chief Operating Officer and President of Edelman’s Washington, D.C. office
    Education: Marquette University

    About: Lisa Osborne Ross started her professional life in politics, even serving in the Clinton administration working on policy development and issues management. From there, she co-founded the Washington Area Women’s Foundation. The organization offers services and training to women and girls in the Washington area. Having ventured on her own, she transitioned to a 15-year-long career at Ogilvy as head of public affairs. After, she moved to APCO Worldwide, where she was managing director of its Washington, D.C. office. Eventually, Lisa transitioned to Edelman where she was just appointed U.S. Chief Operating Officer and President of Edelman’s Washington, D.C. office. She has been called, “gutsy – both as a leader and a practitioner,” by the current CEO at Edelman, Russel Dubner.

    Accomplishments:

        • Savoy Magazine’s Most Influential Women in Corporate America
        • An honoree for Washington Women Who Mean Business
        • A Diversity Champion by the PR Council

     

     

    Name: Kathy Baird
    Company: Nike
    Current Title: Senior Director of Editorial and Experiences
    Education: George Washington University, Georgetown University

    About: Kathy Baird spent nearly six years at Ogilvy in many different roles before eventually finding herself in leadership as Managing Director, Head of Ogilvy Washington Office. She previously had started an improv comedy theater and has said that her experience with improv comedy has helped her career, personal performance, leadership and culture building. As Lakota/Oneida and a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Baird has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion within her industry. In 2017, Baird was awarded the ColorComm Circle Award for making a profound impact for woman of color in the communications industry. Since leaving Ogilvy, Baird has started working in a newly created role at Nike as Senior director of editorial and experiences in the global employee communications team. In the few months she’s been with Nike, she already is creating change. She held Nike’s first-ever Footprint summit, which brought together leaders across Indian Country to help Nike create pathways that increase their Native employee population.

    Accomplishments:

        • ColorComm Circle Award
        • Cannes PR Lion Shortlist Award
        • American Marketing Association M Award
        • The Pollie Award
        • The Addy Award

     

     

    Name: Emily Graham
    Company: FleishmanHillard
    Current Title: Partner
    Education: Babson College, Southern Methodist University

    About: At just 32 years old, Emily Graham made partner at FleishmanHillard. She is the lead strategic communications for clients across multiple industries. Her clients include BlackRock, ZX Ventures (part of InBev), Western Union and Group1001. Graham’s work has not only been exceptional for the clients she serves, but for the business itself too. As head of FleishmanHillard’s Diversity and Inclusion program, she started FH Perspectives, to promote all diversity and inclusion initiatives. FH Perspectives aims to welcome, explore, and celebrate employee’s unique perspectives and experiences. This department does so by attracting & hiring diverse talent and perspectives, nurturing and celebrating a culture of inclusion, and accelerating leadership and partnerships. In 2018, FleishmanHillard saw a 15% increase in diverse hires at the senior level thanks to her leadership.

    Accomplishments:

        • North America SABRE Innovation Award
        • PR Professional of the Year
        • Gold US SABRE Award Nominee for Best Executive Leadership Campaign
        • MWW Matter More Award
        • Global SABRE Award – Executive Leadership Campaign
        • Gold US SABRE Award – Best Executive Leadership Campaign
        • Silver SABRE Award for Best Employee Program of the Year

     

    Name: Stacie Burgess
    Company: American University
    Current Title: Director of Public Affairs
    Education: Howard University

    About: With over 20 years of experience in the field of communications, Stacie Burgess is an expert with a wide variety of experiences. Burgess has a strong background in strategic communications, media relations, public affairs, public policy, crisis communications, digital communications, marketing, publications management and internal and external communications. She spent close to 3 years working for Baltimore County. There, she held two executive positions, first as Communications Director with the Office of the County Executive and then as Chief of Communications and Constituent Services with the county’s Department of Health and Human Services. In this position, she established a network for the county to communicate with the community using Nextdoor free interface. More recently, Stacie has moved to the role of Director of Public Affairs at American University, where she is responsible for issues management, crisis communications and public engagement on key proactive and reactive matters, working in close conjunction with university officials. More recently, Stacie has been tasked with communicating with students and staff of the ongoing pandemic. She is constantly providing new information on the university’s steps and actions during this trying time.

    Accomplishments:

      • Association of Women in Communications
      • Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
  • November 26, 2019

    A HOW-TO GUIDE TO LIVE VIDEO MARKETING

    Have you ever thought about streaming live video for your brand or business? Here’s a quick and easy guide to producing and promoting your next live video.

     

    What is Live Video?

    Live video is streaming video content sent in compressed form over the Internet and displayed by the viewer in real-time.

     

    Live video gives brands the opportunity to connect with fans and customers on a far more genuine, personal level than polished and produced videos.

    Used strategically, live video can leverage a brand’s audience as content producers, creating truly authentic content.

    Consumers can view live content through services such as Twitter, Snapchat and Twitch. According to eMarketer, Facebook Live, YouTube Live and Instagram are among the most preferred channels to view live video.

    Why Live Video is a Winner

    According to eMarketer, U.S. companies will invest heavily in video content with special attention given to live video (i.e. Instagram Stories, newsfeed videos, live streaming, IGTV, etc.) in the next 12 months.

    For brand awareness, relationship building, and even direct sales, live video will become an increasingly effective marketing channel that will shape the industry for years to come.

    Marketers should consider live stream video for the following purposes:

    • To connect with your audience in the most genuine, human way possible

    Live video allows brands to meet fans in person since the event is happening “face to face” and in real-time. Live video gives you a chance to show there are real, caring humans behind your business, which in turn helps to builds trust and leads to more business prospects in the door.

    • To answer questions in real-time

    Interacting with fans and followers doesn’t have to be limited to when we are checking back in our social media pages. Live video also allows for the opportunity to answer followers’ questions in real-time, which provides an opportunity to engage with viewers when they’re most interested.

    • To showcase an event to people who couldn’t attend in real life

    Live video is a great way to broadcast events and connect with fans who aren’t able to attend in person. Just make sure the internet connection is strong and permissions to stream the event live have been secured before going live.

     

    Live Video Event Ideas

    There’s an overwhelming number of ideas out there about how to create a viral live video, but little practical advice. These four techniques will show you how to do just that.

    Interviews

    While how-to videos might be one of YouTube’s most-searched video types, they’ve become incredibly popular on Facebook Live, as well. You can use the live streaming platform to not only demonstrate how your own product or services work but also to show how to perform tasks related to your industry. Doing so builds your reputation as a helpful, trustful brand.

    The best strategy to do this effectively is to create a recurring series where you share information around lesser-known facts about your respective space and answer fan questions as they come up.

    To nail this strategy:

    • be consistent with the time and day of the week you go live,
    • feature hosts that aren’t afraid to show off their personalities,
    • and ensure you have someone ready to monitor questions so you can answer them either in real-time in the comments or in the actual broadcast itself.

     Behind the Scenes

    Generally speaking, your fans only see the forward-facing side of the brand — the side that markets to them and wants to continuously impress them with engaging content. But if you use live video to take them behind the scenes, you’ll find brand loyalty and interest will grow. Give your audience a peek behind the curtain, almost always taking them someplace they couldn’t otherwise go.

    You can do this by:

    • showing fans preparations for a highly anticipated event,
    • revealing the process of how something is made,
    • providing a BTS lens into talent’s media interviews or PR stunt,
    • or by letting them follow along with a particular expert employee’s “day-in-the-life” or daily duties.

    Challenges

    Everyone loves a good challenge! If your brand has an idea for a competition or challenge which can be broadcast live, don’t hesitate to do so via live video. You’ll attract your fair share of viewers, but you’ll also reap the benefits of views on the archived live stream or in post-promotion of the video. Encourage your audience to share in the challenge at home (if they’re safely able to) and report on their experiences in real-time using the chat feature.

    Demos/How-To Events

    How-to videos have become incredibly popular, especially on Facebook Live. You can use the live streaming platform to not only demonstrate how something works related to your company’s brand but also to show how to perform tasks related to your respective industry. Doing so builds your reputation as a helpful, trusted brand.

     

    How to Promote Live Video Streams

    While most of the live video content is followed up with consistent promotion, it’s important to remember live videos are more like an event than a blog post. In other words, you need to generate interest before the experience if you want to get that all-important viewership. The good news is most of the social channels supporting live video lets you target specific audiences and groups with your promotions. This is perfect for a more focused advertising campaign.

    Pre-Event

    • Social media announcement 1 week prior to the event.
    • Consider creating an event page for it on Facebook with a dedicated cross-promotion on your company’s Facebook page.

    Pre-Event

    • Publish reminder posts in the week leading up to the event (3 organic posts across social platforms max as to not inundate the audience with promotional messaging).

    During the Event

    • Publish tune-in posts to drive viewers to live event.
    • The event should go live at optimal posting times when the audience is most engaged.
    • Engage with viewers of the live event and take questions from the audience at moments throughout the discussion.

    Post-Event

    • Continue to promote the recorded live video following the broadcast for further viewership.

     

    Tips for Great Live Video Streams

    When setting out to produce a live video event, you should always follow the standard video production process as you would follow for any other video production. Here are a few more best practices to follow as you produce live video, specifically.

    Choose the Right Camera

    Mobile phones are best for “run-and-gun,” in-the-field moment, and though HD cameras are great, they sacrifice agility for higher video quality. Either way, be strategic about what video quality is necessary to tell your story best.

    Pre-Test Live Video

    Before going live, test things out by creating a practice video restricted to your eyes only on a private account on the platform you intend to go live. This will allow subjects to “get loose” and comfortable on the camera and will help ensure the lighting and sound are up to standards.

     Check Your Connections

    Connectivity is key. Test your connection before going live to be sure your broadcast does not cut out. Time permitting, go to the location shoot a day or two early and test connectivity. Decide beforehand if you will use Wi-Fi or cell service. And make sure to have a backup plan, because going live depends on solid connectivity.

    Face a Window

    Facing a window will give subjects a beautiful source of natural light and make them appear clear in the video frame. Additionally, remove the subjects’ glasses when filming. Glasses can pick up additional glare and can be distracting when filming.

     Film Horizontally on the Mobile Device

    Mobile phone users have the natural urge to film vertically since this is just how most are used to using a phone, but flipping the phone to a horizontal view yields a much nicer sized video. Horizontal videos look better all around, especially when displayed on the news feed.

    Audio is Still Important

    Best practices for radio also apply to live video. While you’re thinking through the production, don’t forget about audio. Low-level, off-mic or distorted audio will cause your audience to turn away.

    Among the practices to keep in mind:

    • Choose the right mic for the environment you’re in
    • Hold the mic close to the subject
    • Select the shot locations based on how it looks and how it sounds
    • Use a windscreen

     Smile, and Be Properly Caffeinated

    Listening to a monotone, unfriendly voice talking about a topic will put everyone in the audience to sleep. On the other hand, watching a video of an individual with an energetic and friendly demeanor will evoke positive feelings in your viewers and keep them hooked. Subjects should speak with a smile, wake up with some caffeine, and most importantly, be themselves. When possible, avoid a talking-head, broadcast model. Always look for ways to add interactivity or visual value.

    Optimize Go-Live Time for Pacific Standard Time (PST)

    Remember to schedule the live event at a time that offers the best chance to catch people’s attention. Optimize the go-live time for Pacific Standard Time (PST) to allow for more people to attend the stream. Consider scheduling the Live event for 2pm PST to catch West Coast viewers during the afternoon slump, East Coast viewers as they’re getting off work and European viewers as they’re tucking into bed.

    Have Someone Monitor Comments and Feed Questions

    With live video, it can be hard to host your video and reply to comments at the same time, which is why you should have a colleague answering your comments in text form, and prompting you to answer the most relevant questions during the actual broadcast.

     Talk Back to the Audience

    Interaction on live videos gives the audience a vote of authority and provides new viewers with confidence that they’re not wasting their time on snooze-worthy content. During the broadcast ask questions, and then ask your viewers to reply in the comments. Ask them to like and share the post. Perhaps even run a live contest asking them to like, share and comment on the post to be entered into a free giveaway raffle.

     Call Out Commenters by Name

    When answering questions over the broadcast make sure you call out the user by their first name. This helps build even more of a connection and will make them feel special that you chose to answer their question live.

     Give an Actionable Sign-Off

    After the broadcast, tell viewers what we want them to do with a strong call-to-action. Do you want them to like the company Facebook page for a discount subscribers code? Share the recording on their page or in their stories? Whatever it may be, be sure to end your live video event with something actionable for viewers to do.

    Promote the Video Post-Broadcast

    Once the video is done livestreaming, publish organic posts for fans who were unable to attend the live event. Additionally, consider boosting the post and running an ad campaign just like on the other Facebook videos and posts. Take advantage of the audience and geo-targeting features to get the recorded live video in front of a larger but still relevant audience.

     Analyze Performance

    After the video has been up for a few days, take a look at the analytics and see how the live video performed. There you’ll be able to see metrics that matter most to your live video event depending on the platform like minutes viewed, unique viewers, video views, 10-second views, average % completed, number of reactions, comments, and shares. Facebook, for instance, provide metrics specific to live video around peak live viewers, total views, average view time people reached, and demographics of who watched. Using these metrics will allow you to continue to perfect your live video strategy going forward.

     

  • November 15, 2019

    A GUIDE TO THE VIDEO PRODUCTION PROCESS

    When setting out to produce a video for your agency or a client, there are many factors to consider. It could be as simple as grabbing a camera and just shooting, or it could be as complex as producing a full feature film. The complexity of your production will be determined by the purpose of the video, budget, timeline, and the tools and resources that you have access to.

     

    UNDERSTANDING THE VIDEO PRODUCTION PROCESS

    The video production process always starts with three main phases: pre-production, production, and post-production.

     

    What is video production?

    Video production usually refers to the process of producing video content in a digital format. We define this because it can be a very different process to film production, which usually involves much larger crews, larger budgets, and different equipment. All video production starts with a story that needs to be told. The video should portray this story in an easy to understand and visually appealing way for your intended audience.

     

    To help you along this process, below are the three-phase of video production as a quick checklist to help you determine what your needs may be for your next video.

     

    What is Pre-Production?

    This is when all of the planning and coordination happens. All phases of video production are important, but the pre-production phase may be the most important and most tedious, depending on the complexity of your production. This is where all the preparation takes place that sets the groundwork for your video. By doing your homework and mapping out all the details in this stage, your production and post-production phases will be much smoother and less stressful.

    The pre-production phase includes:

    • Develop the Creative Treatment – This is an important first step to any production. The creative treatment should describe the concept of the video, the look and feel, and what you want your audience to feel and do when they see your video.

     

    • Write the Script – The script is obviously another key element to your production. It is going to determine what shots you need to capture when you are in your field production shoot. It needs to tell a story that will captivate your intended audience and quickly and easily tell the audience what you want them to know. It will also help you determine what elements you may need for your field production shoot. For instance, if you write a point-of-view shot of a bird flying into the script, you know that you will need a drone to capture that type of shot.

     

    • Book the On-Screen Talent – Will you be the on-screen talent? Will you be using people within your organization? Will you need professional actors?

     

    • Scout and Secure the Locations – Before you go shoot, go out and scout the locations you have in mind, just to make sure they will work on camera as you expect. Also, keep in mind that videotaping in certain locations may require approval, which can be a lengthy process, so make sure you plan for that.

     

    • Make a Shot List – This list should include each location you need to shoot at with the shots you need included at each location.

     

    • Define the Budget – Your budget is one of the most important factors for your production. If you are doing a quick Facebook video in a vlog style, you likely won’t need to spend any money. If you are doing a corporate video or commercial, your budget could require a large sum of money.

     

    • Book the Voiceover Narration Talent – Do you need a voice narrating throughout the video? Will you use a narrator and on-camera soundbites? If you do need voiceover narration, you may want to consider using a professional talent for that polished look, if the budget allows.

     

    • Choose the Music Carefully – The right music can make your video really shine. Spend some time just imaging what the look of the video should be in your mind and select music that you think will accompany the shots you want to get. The music may change once you get to the post-production phase, so don’t purchase it until you know it is the right fit.

     

    • Choose the Distribution Channels – Before you shoot, you should define what platforms the video will be used for. Will it be used on broadcast television or online? Be conscious about your platform so that you know what format to shoot the video in.

     

    • Don’t Forget Weather Considerations – This one seems obvious, but you should check the weather and be prepared for inclement weather. If your scene calls for a bright sunny day and it is raining, well, you are going to have to reschedule. Keep this in mind and check the weather before you go out and shoot so that you don’t have to unbook your whole crew.

     

    • Make a Production Schedule – Once you have all of your ducks in a row, you should create a production schedule that contains all of the important information about your field production shoot day. This should include the names and contact information for all crew members, the equipment that is needed, the name, address and contact person at each shoot location, and a timeline with start and end times for each location and what will be shot there.

     

    What is Field Production?

    As you probably guessed, the production phase is where all your pre-production work comes to life. This is the phase where you get out to your locations with your crew, gear and talent and turn your creative treatment and script into real life.

    The field production phase includes:

     

    • Production Equipment (camera(s), lighting gear, audio gear, memory cards, extra batteries, stands, tripods, lenses, etc.) – To state the obvious, if you are going to be producing a video, you will need gear…sometimes a lot of it. Be sure you have the correct gear for the job. And always make sure you have plenty of memory cards and extra batteries. Audio in video is as important, if not more important than the video. Capturing good audio in interviews and natural sound in b-roll is key to a great video. Make sure you have a quality microphone.

     

    • Release Forms – If you are not using professional on-screen talent, be sure to bring copies of personal footage release forms, particularly if you are shooting people off the street and directing them in any way. You want to make sure you have their written consent to be on camera to avoid any legal trouble with a subject who complains about being in your video without their consent.

     

    • Personnel needs (director, producer, talent, grips) – How large a crew will you need to make your production happen and look good? Some complicated scenes may require extra hands. Of course, if your budget allows for a full professional crew, your finished product will likely be better. If this is not feasible, there are ways a small crew can still accomplish the same quality but be realistic about your limitations.

     

    What is Post-Production?

    The post-production phase is where you will set the tone for your video. While right or wrong music and voice over narration selections can make or break your video, the video edit will shape the video and give it a certain pace and feel. Make sure you edit with your story and purpose in mind, and not just throw shots together randomly.

    The post-production phase includes:

     

    • Video editing software – Once you have shot all of your video, the next step is to edit it. There are many options these days when it comes to editing software but some of the most popular include Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premier, and Sony Vegas. If you are not comfortable with editing the video yourself, consider hiring a professional editor, who can really make your video shine. Editing is one most important steps in the video production process.

     

    • Audio editing software – Just like editing your video, audio editing is a very important step of your production. Using dedicated audio editing software, you can take out some of the background noise, hiss, and breath sounds that may be distracting within your video. Some popular audio editing programs are Adobe Audition, Avid Pro Tools, and Audacity.  

     

    Of course, entire books are written about video production and how to prepare for a successful video shoot, but if you aren’t in the production industry and don’t have time to read a whole book, keeping these tips in mind should help you be prepared for your next video, whether big or small.

     

  • November 11, 2019

    Multiculturalism in Marketing

    Recently, our Vice President of Marketing, Michaela Blanchard, spoke on a panel for Ad Week DC, #ADWKDC, addressing the topic of Multiculturism in Advertising. One audience member asked an insightful question. “How can you tell if a brand is authentic when advertising to minority audiences?” Of course, we can do our research to investigate a company’s culture and brand history. But we have to accept that direct Multicultural advertising targeting will be more prevalent as we enter a landscape where the minority becomes the majority.

    Diversity and inclusion is a business imperative in hiring and profitability. Those who embrace it will be more likely to prosper, and those who ignore it will be more likely to fail. We must remember that the minority population in this country is currently at 41%, according to the U.S. census; and expected to exceed 50% before 2044. Any smart brand would position themselves to benefit from the massive buying power of African American and Hispanic customers in the marketplace.

    If you are determined to use and buy the most socially-conscious goods and services, here are a few ways to see if the brands you support, support you:

    • Look at past advertising campaigns to see how long diverse representation has been present.
    • Have there been any recent snafus in the news, regarding insensitive marketing material or images?
    • Look at the people at the table. Does the agency or marketing department have people that look like you in brand or product development?
    • Is this brand only being supportive of a trend? For example, does this brand reach the LGBTQ audience outside of Pride Month?
    • Finally, when all else fails…ask the internet. Social media has become the whistleblower of all things morally slanted.

    But don’t be discouraged, whatever a brand’s reason may be, we are headed into a direction of a plethora of options for health and beauty, automobiles, and other retail treasures.

     

     

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