Many communicators are seeking ways to move face-to-face events to safer spaces, such as video, in the midst of the pandemic.
For years, PR pro Doug Simon has been helping brands use video for a variety of communications purposes, including town halls, satellite tours and conferences, among other things. We asked him Friday, March 20, 2020, how he’s counseling communicators now that so many, by necessity, are turning to video and social media video.
PRNEWS: Governor Cuomo, literally moments ago, ordered the shuttering of non-essential NY businesses. Yours too?
Doug Simon: The overwhelming majority of our staff will work remotely but, as news media is considered an essential service and we are providing content, we will have access to our control room as our building is open.
PRNEWS: So, say a brand or organization calls you. It wants to take a cancelled physical event and stage it online. What do you do?
Simon: We’re still able to do that. It's especially useful if it’s an event with panels of, say, 3 or 4 people. Each person would go on a platform, such as Skype or Zoom, from their individual homes. Then each panelist is linked to a control room. The resulting transmission is carried via satellite.
PRNEWS: What’s the advantage?
Simon: It lets panelists interact more smoothly with each other. Also, it allows for discussions and questions from the audience to be monitored. It’s a smoother experience. And if you're offering footage to several dozen local TV outlets, it's easier to have them sent via satellite.
Obviating the Snooze Factor
PRNEWS: On moving events to video or social media video, isn’t it easy for people to nod off instead of engaging during a video session?
Simon: I take your point.
PRNEWS: How do you mitigate that?
Simon: You need to craft the event as if it was a well-produced talk show. One way you can do that is to consider including appropriate B-roll footage to help maintain attention.
PRNEWS: Prior to the pandemic, you had to sell people on professional video as opposed to social media video.
Simon: Yes. But at this point, we don’t have to do much counseling as physical events involving audiences aren’t happening.
Communications is More Important Today
PRNEWS: What's your pitch now?
Simon: What we’re reminding brands and organizations is that communicating during this time, internally and externally, isn’t less important. If anything, it’s more important.
What we also say, and have been saying, is that capturing an event, without an audience, for live broadcast can engage people and be interactive.
PRNEWS: You help brands send video directly to television outlets. Is the demand still there during the pandemic?
Simon: Yes. Local TV stations want coronavirus stories, of course. But their demand for human interest stories, such as how people are occupying their time during this time, is very high. We surveyed 52 stations and 87 percent are willing to take stories from a brand. In addition, they are open to various subject matter.
PRNEWS: What do communicators find most surprising about video? What do you tell them that they usually don’t know?
Simon: One is that you can create a broadcast-quality online video panel, with people in multiple locations interacting with each other in real time, using new transmission technology.
We also talk about how many different ways video content can be utilized and shared. For example, with media, internal audiences, clients, prospects and partners. Video also can be shared to get coverage on non-broadcast outlets.
Doug Simon is CEO of D S Simon Media