Own your media…from Television to YouTube

It is time…time to take ownership of our media. What do I mean…well, we have to take ownership of all our media properties and not allow outside forces to have control of our message.

A few weeks ago, Greenville Hospital System rebranded and became Greenville Health System. They put together a great strategic plan to “flip the switch” on March 18th. Literally the evening of March 17th, all websites owned and operated under their umbrella lost their individual identities and took on the new web look as Greenville Health System. All social media properties took on the same look across the whole system.

This took lots of preplanning, pre-creative design, and lots of code work…so over a six hour span…all became one. GHS went from a house of brands to a branded house in a one night switch.

This is taking ownership of media…except one little detail did not come together as “planned.” In all honesty, it was hard to foresee this small situation. On that Monday, the day of the switch, television stations across the region began playing their beautiful, new television spots sharing the new branded message.

Lots of time, effort, and resources were invested in the creation of these beautifully produced televisions spots. But…GHS was not the first to share these spots on the social space. A few days later, the video production company released these spots on their company YouTube and Facebook outlets.

As I watched the newsfeed…my heart sank. I asked myself, why were we (GHS) not the first to share these spots from our social outlets. How does this happen? Is it really a big deal? Is there someone to blame? I have no idea if we should get upset or even bothered over something like this? Or…do you get excited that the production group is proud to share your message. And guess what…they did a wonderful job on the production…here is a link to one of the spots and they are beautiful (btw they were shot with a Red Camera).

What Can We Learn?
In a perfect world, this is how I see this “should” have happened (this is based on my limited knowledge of planning behind the production of the television spots):

1. When the production company is contracted to help create and craft television spots, the contract should reflect ownership of media assets. Specifically, who owns the rights to the content and how this content can be shared publicly.

2. Companies/Organizations should require all production companies to provide final media assets to them for all electronic distribution. What do I mean, all television spots should be provided and ready for distribution on all media outlets from television to online at the same time.

3. Coordinated release schedule should be created and implemented. This plan stipulates the days and times when each outlet will release these elements from television to online. These should be a coordinated effort between the production company, agency, and organization. So if the television spot is scheduled to be released on YouTube the same day it is released on television, the “traffic” plan should detail this plan along with who needs to be involved in this distribution. Usually the organization is the only one who has access to their social outlets.

4. YouTube and social share is just as important as the television release. This was proven with the Audi commercials from the 2012 SuperBowl. Audi released the 30 second spots on television and YouTube at the same time during the 2011 Super Bowl. This created the opportunity for social share…the television spot had a hashtag #solongvampires … so when people watched on television, they went to YouTube to find the video then tweeted it out using the hashtag. Within the first week after release, this created over a million views on YouTube and many million impressions on Twitter.

5. Production company’s social outlets (like YouTube) should not be the place where an organization’s television spot calls “home” and are first released. Why…because the production companies are not the owners of the branded message. The branded company/organization has the right to capitalize on the digital impact of the television spots, especially since it represents their branded message. The television spots should live on the organization’s branded video social outlet (like YouTube & Vimeo).

6. Production companies should make it standard practice in their agreements stipulating who owns the rights to this content, which includes (but not limited to) social media/digital media outlets.

7. Companies/Organizations should make sure their production agreement stipulates the branded organization reserves the first right of online distribution. The organization should be the first to share, then invite production company vendors to share (only after the organization has publicly released).

8. THIS IS IMPORTANT – the production company must share the video from the organization’s YouTube/Vimeo video outlet. SEO is important in this game of digital brand equity.

What can we learn from this? Owning our media is important. Now a little disclosure…I work with GHS. I do not look at this as a critique of GHS but more of a learning experience that should help us plan for the future. Who would have thought that the production company would be the first to share these spots online *and* would it be a big deal? We learned…this can happen and will happen again if we (as digital strategiest) do not plan accordingly.

I learned something from this experience. I must be more diligent when putting together social/digital distribution plans. I will also make sure I write better contracts/agreements with my production clients.

For GHS…they do not want others to leverage their brand, their message, their digital equity. It is important to applaud production companies for sharing the work they create. We want them to share…but it should not be at the expense of the organization’s digital message.

* Image from webaholic.com <- THANKS! 

“Media” can connect us in times of divisive communication.

I was sitting in a church service the Sunday morning after the Newtown massacre, and like many churches that day…the topic of discussion surrounded the events of this tragic shooting. Here we are over a few weeks removed and the discussion is still in full force…we are trying to seek answers.

We are asking ourselves lots of questions. We are wondering why these images of the children are being shared all over the television screens, websites, and social media platforms.

A quote that resonated with me that Sunday morning…something Pastor Johnny Mckinney shared, “During this time, we must lean in as a community of faith.” As I replay this thought, this quote, this statement…I think of the image where first responders from Friday morning’s shooting were huddled together. They were leaning in together, consoling each other, comforting each other especially those who had to witness those horrific images from inside the school.

Many have debated whether the media coverage of these events have blatantly crossed the lines…from numerous angles. Whether it may be questioning the intentions of journalists trying to question children witnesses right after the events *or* spending too much time in this small town compiling continuing coverage…many believe that “media” has created a division in public discourse. I am thinking through this idea of overall access to media including the news media and coverage of topical items. “Media” brings us access to frontline discussions.

Media is defined as “tools used to store and deliver information or data”. (From Wikipedia).

Oxford Dictionary defines media, “The word is also increasingly used in the plural form medias, as if it had a conventional singular form media, especially when referring to different forms of new media, and in the sense ‘the material or form used by an artist” 

“The Media” is also defined by Oxford Dictionary as “(the media) [treated as singular or plural] the main means of mass communication (television, radio, and newspapers) regarded collectively.”

“Media” provides access to information, bridging divides by allowing individuals to share information. We are connected via media through the contextual understanding of events. From images of the events in Newtown to the editorial dialogues of the news media that bring us context from the “inside” of the story.

Stories come in many forms. We see them from the televisions from inside our living rooms. We hear them on the radio and through podcasts. We share them through our connections as we talk amongst each other, either in person or online.

“The Media” or journalists provide this frontline access to these stories as they unfold, painting the picture for us to see, hear, smell, and relive in our daily lives. Technology is the connection point to these stories…these thoughts, these moments in time where we feel so connected. As time moves along in linear fashion…we will shed tears even as those events venture further and further in the past.

We not only “lean in” to the stories that bring us context, but to the people who share and bring to us to the front-lines each and every time. Think…how many times did you share your thoughts about Newtown, shed a tear, then maybe hugged someone. “Media” can connect us in more ways than just interacting online.

Olympic Spoiler??? This blog post comes to you right on time!

Ok…so the image above was captured at 2:48pm Tuesdayand this article was written at 1:32pm Tuesday afternoon, EDT. Yes…

“The U.S. women’s team has won the gold medal in the gymnastics team final with a superlative performance and an overall score of 183.596. Russia scored a 178.530 to take the silver and Romania won the bronze with a score of 176.414.”

Ok…who cares other than the fact that this is the first time since 1996.

“Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber and Aly Raisman delivered impressive floor routines to clinch the first team gold for the U.S. since the ‘Magnificent Seven’ won in 1996.”

It is a big day for the US…well, kind of?

Of course, since the Olympics are broadcasted on NBC via tape delay…most Americans will not be able to see this victory until Thursday evening. Well, most Americans…I guess?

Since Huffington Post and most news outlets posted this huge announcement via social media…the Twitter-verse has been exploding with excitement and people complaining about it spoiling the fun Thursday evening.

Tweets from around 3:08 Tuesday afternoon…people still talking spoilers. And even have moved on from talking about the Women’s Gymnastics spoiler.

So here is my question…will you be interested to see the viewership statistics for the television broadcasts and compare them to the NBC/YouTube live streaming viewership? People have the option to watch it live during the day online or watch later on their television.

This world phenomenon is going to have to solidify the distinction between television viewership and online consumption. Also…how much social media has played into the reporting of the Olympics in real time via Twitter, Facebook, and other social outlets?

I am looking forward to Nielsen to release the viewership comparison between online and television and relevant  the impact from the social outlets. NBC Television scored big numbers for the opening ceremonies “with 40.7 million people tuning in for the opening ceremony, making it the most-watched opening ceremony for a summer or winter Olympics ever.” But what about days like today when something big happened in the middle of the day. It will be interesting to see the comparison!

Or will the social space sharing the results in real time turn into a tremendous marketing opportunity for NBC to capture viewership in the evening. People will want to see it with their own eyes.

You think it is a spoiler when Huffington Post and other media outlets posted immediately on their websites that the Women’s Gymnastics Team won?

Spolier alert…maybe people are moving to online viewing and social consumption for real time information. And maybe the networks and media giants have figured out how to leverage the social/digital space to attract audiences to watch on television? I am looking forward to seeing if people enjoyed the real time results via online versus waiting to watch the old tele.

***Image credit…HuffingtonPost.com 

Own Your Media…

The more groups I work with…the more I realize organizations struggle with one concept, taking ownership of their media. Take control of their message and the media created to communicate their message. What do I define as media? I consider media as any digital media assets used to communicate an organization’s message.

More and more organizations continue to spend lots of time and resources finding ways to attract mainstream media outlets to communicate their message. Why…why must we completely depend on mainstream media to distribute our message?

Now…this is not a post to discount the engagement and strategy of mainstream media in PR/communication initiatives. But, given the access to digital communication tools, we can build community around our message using digital/social tools.

So what do I think organizations should consider when managing their media?

1) Bring your communications and new media strategies in-house and use them to communication rapidly and efficiently.

2) Build a new media/social media team from across the organization to capture, create, and distribute the message(s).

3) Build a mothership or home base to direct all web traffic for each communication initiatives.

4) Identify communication channels that engage the target audience.

5) Utilize high-impact, SEO rich social outlets to gain digital traction. These include YouTube, Twitter, blogs, and email newsletters.

6) Track your results.

This is a simplistic look at a big initiative, implementing takes a more detailed approach…but this is a high-level overview that prompts discussion.

As a former journalist who has worked for both small and large traditional media outlets in both general news and investigative news teams…times are changing. As mainstream media outlets are downsizing…the competition is higher for space in traditional media spaces. Less staff to not only cover current assignments but also distribute this content on traditional platforms but new media platforms as well. This marginalizes coverage of your organizations “news” items which now could be deemed as “non-news.”

With the convergence of how traditional media outlets are integrating new media/social media strategies into their content distribution, web traffic is key to their success. So, when organizations depend on their “exposure” with news media outlets posting content online on their online news channels, that is less traffic we can leverage for our own organization’s benefit.

I hear over and over, why can’t we get the media to come to our event? Why can’t we get the media to write a story about our announcement.

Why do we continue to think that the media not only cares about our stories, but has the resources and space in their broadcast properties for our stories?

So…why not just take control of our message. Why not create and manage our own messages and leverage online tools to build our own communities. Why…because many of us are still treating new/social media like traditional marketing/pr initiatives. We hire outside agencies and outside groups to manage our content. We not only need to bring the messaging strategy in-house but the media strategy in-house as well.

This takes commitment from top down in your organization. It takes resources and it takes a shift in thinking. It also takes time to implement and successfully show a trend in success. What you will find is that you now not only own the process of creating and distribution, your content; but now the traditional media outlets use your online tools as ways to learn about your organization.

Why not build a community around your organizations digital properties as opposed to depending on the news media outlet’s fragmented audiences. Yes…there is tremendous value engaging traditional news media in your strategy, but they should work in parallel with your efforts.

Let’s just call it what it is…having a traditional new media outlet write or produce content about our organization is credibility. But let’s leave just at that…adding credibility to the message. But, let’s not depend on these same outlets become the main source of audience traffic to our message.

I will leave you with a prime example of this strategy, South Carolina Hospital Association. This organization had numerous web properties that fragmented their branded message. They were also working extremely hard to gain news media coverage for the numerous advocacy initiatives they represent. They built an online media strategy that included one large web portal which included social initiatives like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and regular email blasts. The communication section of their web property provides a one stop shop to read, watch, and listed to the life of the organization. They now own their media content and funnel the information through their communication section of their website, driving traffic via distribution channels back to this area of the website. This is ultimately tracking success during campaign cycles.

“Own” your media…

* Image is from SomeEcards.com

word-of-mouth meet mass media

So I was talking with a friend the other day and she shared this story with me. Now for the sake of confidentiality, I am not going to share the name of my friend or the name of the company I am talking about. But, this is a great word-of-mouth story.

My friend works for a major organization, and they were getting ready to hire a bunch of new workers. So they wanted to use some “media” to inform the public about these new jobs to generate interest and find a big pool of applicants. So this organization advertised online with some television and other online media outlets with banner ads that click-thru to the online application process. They spent tons on money on the ads, radio spots, etc. to drive interest for the public at-large to go online and apply. My friend was not convinced this was going to generate lots of “leads.”

So, my friend took the time to make some small cards with with the web address. He took these cards and walked around the organization, passing them out. He gave them to the workers of this organization, asking them if they knew anyone that needed a job to give them this card. He passed out hundreds of cards to anyone inside the organization.

On the online application, he included a field that asked where they heard about this job. It listed different options including the news outlet’s web address, radio ads, tv ads, and also included if they heard from a friend who gave them a card. When they opened up the online process to accept the applications, the number one referral was friend who gave them a card. WOW…all of this mass media used to recruit, thousands of dollars spent on advertising to the masses, and the little cheap cards yield the best result.

Now this is not to say that online media, television, and radio is not a viable resource to spread your message. But here is a situation when someone, who is not a marketing person, took the time to go where the pulse of the people exist and empower them to share with their friends. Think about it, those people took their cards and gave to a friend…probably shared with someone who needed a job. Those applicants will probably retire at this organization…why. Because a friend referred them. The person sharing the card is going share with people whom they know. They are going to share with people whom they think would represent best their organization. Brand ambassadors and word-of-mouth….a powerful combination.

Word-of-mouth is such a cool thing!

Oh No – Where Did Social Media Go???

Lately I have been thinking a bit about “The Grid”…you know that thing that keeps us all connected! Imagine waking up one day and you are in Little House on the Prairie…no grid, no iPhone, no iPad, no Internet, no Twitter, no Facebook, no telephones, no television…NO ELECTRONIC TECHNOLOGY! What would we do as a society? Think for a second…the headlines in North Korea have been exposing us to that possibility…and E-Bomb. Something that could potentially knock out even the most un-assuming pieces of technology that we depend on…even fuel injection cars.

No this post is not a conspiracy theorist type of post..just one to think, what if all of this electronic technology was GONE? I think of the Allstate Commercial addressing the economy with the message about getting back to basics. But what if that message had a bigger meaning…basics beyond electronic technology.

What has Social Media taught us that could translate into the Little House on the Prairie scenerio? Think for a second…hmm, it has taught me how to use innovation to build relationships. It has taught us that communities are important for so many reasons..but most importantly how to communicate using new innovation.

So, if right this second someone took an eraser and starting erasing the laptop sitting infront of me, the iPhone in my hand, the telephone at my desk, the server in the closet, the electrcity in the walls…and on and on. I would want to know how my friends I have built connections with on Facebook, Twitter, email, blogs, etc. are doing. I would want to reconnect in a more basic manner. I would want to figure out how to communicate with my grandparents, my friends I established on Twitter who are all over the world, etc.

We would innovate and create new forms of communication or step back and rely on traditional forms of communication to find ways to gather, communicate, share ideas, have a drink, and so on. We might even start writing letters again, you know those good ole fashion hand written letters that might be delivered via a horse or a person driving a car that only uses a carburetor.

We would probably value face-to-face interaction because we cannot quickly get our fix on Twitter where we communicate like someone watching a tennis match. Do we depend too much on electronic communication and forget how to establish and maintain relationships outside of the grid? Have we evolved too much with the grid where we can only create a thought through a keyboard which restricts our critical communication skills necessary in a face to face interaction?

HMM…I wonder. I wonder where we are going? I wonder who will be able to evolve without the grid? Will I be able to or am I conditioned to depend on the iPhone?

When I left broadcast television news back in 2000 to return to graduate school, one thing I did was step back from the grid. I got rid of a cell phone and tried to re-evaluate how I communicate. It was nice not to depend on that device that followed me around… tying me to the grid.

Now…I am dependent upon the grid! This powerful pieces of connectivity that i get thoroughly pissed off when i drive through a “DEAD ZONE” or when my cable modem drops connectivity for ONLY A FEW MINUTES. Oh no, I can’t write a blog, I can’t tweet, I can’t upload a photo….I JUST CAN”T EXPRESS MYSELF…what has the world come to?

But hold on…I am breathing…I can talk…I can shake a hand…I can communicate with my mouth…with my handwriting. I can still express myself.

Have you ever caught yourself saying…what did we do before the Internet? What did we do? Really…what did you do? Maybe we did actually Tweet, maybe using a different method?

I have always explained my conversations in Twitter using this scenario. Imagine showing up for a big conference and you walk into a room filled with close to a thousand people. As you walk through the crowd, you ware walking in and out of conversations…listening to comments as you make you way through. You might stop for a second to chat…then keep on walking, in and out of conversations….until you reach a group you are ultimately there to see. You might still mingle after finding that group, walking in and out of conversations…but ultimately you are there to talk to certain groups…as you are listening to different conversations.

Did I just describe Twitter in a different context…a different paradigm…different physicality? Is Social Media just a technology or a communication method regardless of technology? What is the grid?

Video Editing is more than pushing buttons! Telling Stories!

The idea behind video editing is half passion and half technique. Video editing is more than just editing…it is creating a story, creating a vision that forces the audience to forget they have peripheral vision.

How do we do that…well, let me say that it has taken me years and years of editing tape-to-tape and non-linear editing. You have to understand the technical constraints in-order to manipulate the editor to make it produce what your mind is envisioning.

How do I edit…well, I work first with technique…then passion!

1) I like to build sequences. What do I mean by sequences? Well, a series of shots that creates a series of visual images that shows the action. An example would be if you are getting out of a car and closing the door. The first shot would be a wide shot of the car as you get out of the car, to the tight shot of your hand opening the handle, leading to the next medium shot of the door opening, etc. One of the best directors I think uses sequences very well is M. Knight Shyamalan. He likes to use a series of shots brought together where they lead from wide shot to tight shots in sequences. This technique is allows the audience to engage with the visual story without even realizing it has happened.

2) I like to let sound drive the edit. I LOVE SOUND EDITING. I may not be the best technical sound editor, but I love to use sound to predispose the audience to what shot is about to come. If I am getting ready to show you the train is going by, I like to slowly bring the sound up from the train in the preceding shot to get you mind thinking train and then BAM…there is the train. An since I like to edit in sequences (wide to tight shots), and there is a “jump cut”, you can use sound to blend the edit to fake out the mind. You basically make the eye forget the visual mistake by nailing it with some sound that distracts the eyes. I also like crisp sound to edit. If the hammer is nailing the nail, I want to hear that crisp sound and make sure it matches!

3) WIDE, MEDIUM, TIGHT, SUPER TIGHT…TELL THE STORY! That is my motto…my mantra. I am somewhat a purest when it comes to my editing style. Now, I can get flashy with those fast, graphical edits…but I like to tell the story as I would visually see it with my eyes. Our eyes do not pan, they do not zoom…so why should we edit that way? You will not see me edit pans or zooms unless it reveals something. So, I search for the opportunity to edit from a wide to tights. Especially in interviews where I want to create pacing…start with a wide shot on a comment, then cut to the tight shot comment for emphasis. This creates pacing and visual interest!

4) I edit in a Non-Linear Paradigm (Final Cut & Avid) using Linear methods. I am in the zone when I have two BetaSP Decks side by side, manipulating the four channels of audio and one video track to tell a story. It is my opinion that most editor these days are sloppy allowing the non-linear editing software just create a dissolve or effect when there is nothing else to do. Linear editing is a tremendous exercise forcing one to think two shots ahead and three shots behind. You have to know what shots you are going to use next and how they blend with the previous shots. YOU ARE TELLING A VISUAL STORY…not just creating visual overload.

5) I like to evaluate a sequence or the final product in a couple ways…mainly to see if I gained success. I like to watch the video with my ears closed, eyes open; then watch again with eyes closed and ears open. This is to see of the sound and the visuals tell the same story. I also like to get others to watch the the final product and watch them as they watch the story. I like to see where they loose interest, where they have emotion, basically to see if the purpose matched the reaction.

6) I like telling stories! I like to be able to throw out all the rules and sacrifice the technique in order to achieve a better story. If there is a great moment captured and it needs to breathe…no fast edits, no sequences, no fancy effect…then let it breathe! Your audience will thank you for it and come back for more!!!!

Editing Food For Thought! Do you have any thoughts?

Web Strategy Firms are the New World Order

Times are changing faster and faster everyday. As technology evolves faster  than we can breathe…and as it evolves, we need people to help us with it, understand it, and sell us a strategy to implement.

Web strategy of 2010 has evolved into business communication strategy. Creating and monitoring revenue streams as we create and monitor conversations…well actually the technology that distributes these conversations and messages.

I think back to when I was in undergrad at Clemson. My freshman year (1992), no email and the only knowledge of the World Wide Web was this thing called Gopher. I remember I could use it to find my girlfriend’s class buildings at Appalachian State University. By my sophomore year, I had email and the WWW became a new idea on Clemson’s campus. By my junior year, Clemson was teaching web design and development classes. While I was in college, major AD & PR agencies were building strategic communication strategies and the computer geeks were creating webpages.

Now…here we sit in 2010, the new age AD Firm is the web/new media agency: building business models around web strategy as a communication plan that drives revenue. It started out as going paperless to save money, but now communication strategies are sold to drive revenue not only for the organizations that buy the plan but for the firms that are selling the strategy.

Why the discussion…I have been studying and trying to understand the evolution of the new media business models. Watching and researching the retainer models for web and new media firms that are not only creating an updated web presence but also building relationships with C-Level executives for long term ROI.

I have been talking and visiting with companies everyday who are caught in similar positions. They are staffed with creative professionals that handle all the graphic design and communication planning for their communication strategies. These companies are staffed with “traditional” media execution but scrambling to create and implement web and new media strategies. Many companies staffed with seasoned professionals trying desperately to get up-to-date with these web, social, and new media concepts. These same companies are staffed with interns that are training professionals how to evolve and adapt practitioner concepts into new technology.

Web strategy companies come in with big retainers and big ideas…visions of solving problems capitalizing on the current deficits in knowledge in many mid to large size organizations…”how can we make our web presence better and drive traffic to our message.” The new age AD Firm is today’s Web Firm….staffed with Presidents/CEOs, project managers, business development professionals, designers, developers and a board of directors. These board of directors made up of investors and visionaries capitalizing on the new wave of messaging.

It is a new world order…we are buying iPad’s and Androids as fast as we consume information. We sit and watch HDTV on our couches while we sit and surf the Internet with our Mac Book Pros and posh laptops. We are texting as we drive down the road while answering phone calls and listening to Pandora. Information velocity has a new derivative…information velocity. It is a new world order. And what is the next evolution? Hmm…Mobile Media Firms will take over and create the new strategies as business communication strategies with brick and mortar offices in every city.

How will we as practitioners stay relevant though this accelerated evolution of business and technology strategies. Hmm…maybe just keep on telling stories. BTW…I realize I might be one of these groups I am talking about…taking part in the new world order.