A Quick Guide to Success with Brand Videos

If you’re older than 40 and live in certain parts of the country, chances are you might know of the 4-H Clubs, a large organization that encourages kids to become interested in agriculture. But who knew that 3-H is a formula communicators and others can use to create a successful video strategy, particularly for YouTube channels?

The three Hs stand for Hub, Hero and Help, and they represent different kinds of videos that should populate a brand's YouTube channel. The three Hs are:

Hero Videos: These videos focus on someone(s) or something(s) your brand considers heroic. They're targeted at large numbers of people, are flashy and aimed at raising brand awareness, says Tod Plotkin, principal at Green Buzz Agency, who spoke at today's PR News Video Boot Camp at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. These videos are relatable, emotional, inspirational and shareable; they imitate content seen on YouTube, which make them more engaging. Here's an example of a hero video created for Lowe's Generation T program, which encourages participation in trades. The hero, of course, is Cyrus, the poet shown in the video's first moments. (More on Cyrus in a moment.)

Another example of a hero video could come from a company that works in the medical field, specializing in spine health. The hero video for this company could highlight a group of patients who've undergone surgeries and treatments for back ailments and now compete in marathons.

Help Videos: These videos concentrate on niche topics, typically provide step-by-step instructions and are intended to create a positive impression. For the spinal health company, a help video would include tips on how to sit at work to avoid back pain, Plotkin says. These videos also are aimed at a large, general audience.

Hub Videos: This category of videos is intended for niche audiences. These are people who already are interested in the topics your brand's videos cover, says Leah Eder, a marketing specialist at Green Buzz. They're intended to develop loyalty to your brand and should encourage regular visits to the site to see the next video in a series. From the spine health example above, the videos could discuss the latest medical breakthroughs to combat back problems.

Video Best Practices

  1. Inverted Pyramid: Communicators with journalism backgrounds should understand this one, since it's used in writing news stories. The video application, Plotkin says, involves putting the most compelling material in the first 30 seconds of your short videos. This is a must with YouTube and Facebook videos, which have just a few moments to capture (or lose) viewers' attention. See the video about Cyrus cited above.
  2. Inverted Pyramid Part II: Another tip: pose compelling questions in those first 30 seconds to reel in viewers, as this video does. The initial 30 seconds also is the time to introduce compelling characters to viewers, Eder says. Again, this is illustrated in the previous video.
  3. Pick Your Topic: To create a brand documentary, Plotkin advises brainstorming themes and words that your target audience identifies with your brand. This typically will require research, perhaps surveying your target audience, he says. "Learn about your brand. What do people think of you?" Once you have those words and themes, decide how to show them visually. A tip: Avoid overt product and logo placements as they detract from authenticity, he says.
  4. Get Emotional: To capture emotional moments in an interview, particularly from people who are uncomfortable on screen, avoid giving the subject the questions in advance. Then ask questions at the beginning of the video interview, and if they flub their answers, don't worry. Ask them those same questions "35 minutes later" when they'll be more comfortable and have, in a sense, rehearsed their answer. "This is why we do hour-long interviews," he says.
  5. Show, Don't Tell: If possible,  go on a person's journey visually instead of explaining it. Capture the natural sounds and emotions of the person's day, he says, as you can see in this video. And find a great story rather than merely profiling a person, adds Plotkin.
  6. Move It: Corporate videos typically are static. By contrast, during the typical Netflix show, Plotkin says, "the camera is moving constantly." Ditto with sound, he says. A good video should have a lot of different sound bites. Again, these points are illustrated in the above video.

Seth Arenstein is editor of PR News. Follow Seth: @skarenstein