Public Relations Graphic

What is Public Relations?

Public Relations Graphic

The PR Puzzle

“A developing company is looking to hire a PR/advertising person,” I read yesterday in a Facebook status of Katya, my former colleague in Russia. “PR slash advertising, right,” I thought to myself. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine a PR guru like James Grunig, for example, putting an equals sign between public relations and advertising… In many companies around the world, however, such association is pretty common. In Russia, the words PR, advertising, and marketing are often used interchangeably and essentially refer to one thing and one thing only: promotion of goods or services. Is that in any way different from the American culture? Let’s get brainy and try to figure it out.

Curiously, the abbreviation ‘PR’ for Russians would typically evoke a set of negative emotions. The deal here is that excessive political PR blackened the reputation of the whole PR process in the 1990s – right when it came into existence after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Take PRopaganda for instance, which is the name of a large local public relations firm: Can you really expect good things from the company where PR and propaganda merge?!

PR in Russian language is also often used as a verb describing a public figure or an organization trying to boost their popularity through dubious activities. See a politician in a news report bragging about equipping local schools with newest computers? Don’t doubt for a second that the guy is ‘PRing’ himself. Such skewed understanding of PR is not unique to just Russia and is observed in other countries of the former USSR as well – in Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine.

So what would the ‘correct’ interpretation of PR be? Most likely it would sound something like ‘communication between an organization and groups of people affected by this organization, where all parties should benefit.’ PR would imply listening for feedback and allowing for dialog between the organization and the society. Unfortunately, most organizations are far from working in line with this ‘true’ purpose of PR. Public relations practitioners usually act as marketers, trying to urge people to buy the product instead of putting efforts into upholding the company’s reputation in the society.

Blueforest Studios recently held a contest for local nonprofits in the Triangle area called Blueforest GivesBack. Factors determining proper PR, such as community presence and social engagement, served as important criteria for our judges in selecting finalists. Blueforest is going to announce who the finalists are really soon!

What do you think public relations stand for? Press releases? Corporate social responsibility? Two-way communication? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

About the author: Vlad is an intern at Blueforest Studios and a 2nd year grad student at NC State. Today he’s sharing thoughts on his field of study – PR – and how the purpose and functions of PR in his home country – Russia – differ from the U.S.

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Super Bowl 2015 Ads – Why did they do that?

Let’s be honest, the Super Bowl is not only about football but all about the advertisements. They’re everywhere whether we are aware of them or not: months before Super Bowl, during the playtime, and after the game. What makes the Super Bowl so grand is how it connects Americans through this one social event. Even though it’s suppose to be about football, it is really about being a part of this cultural event – the advertisements, the products, the pre-game and game-day rituals. Everybody is talking about the game, and the best and worst commercials of the night.

The commercials are what make many people tune in as they are known to be amazing, well thought-out ads with familiar faces like celebrities and fan commercial favorites from certain companies. Many of last night’s commercials have people talking about the good and the bad ads – which is the sole purpose of these ads, to get everyone remembering and talking about their advertisement and company. Everyone has their own opinion about which ads were a hit and which were a miss. Many big companies have multiple commercials to target different audiences and portray different messages.

 

A favorite of the night was the Budweiser Lost Puppy commercial. This ad was so heartwarming, a short story of a puppy lost then brought home. The purpose of this commercial was to evoke a happy and inspiring emotional response in the audience tied to their traditional Budweiser Clydesdales horses and their puppy. They did an excellent job to telling a story that people want to relate to.

 

Another commercial Budweiser had was a different style. The “Brewed the Hard Way” took an interesting attack on craft beer. In contrast with the Lost Dog commercial, this ad focused on distinguishing Budweiser beer from craft beer. There advertisement didn’t work as well as they hoped and their has been some backlash. As craft beer continues to become increasingly popular, they are trying to play up their traditional tasting beer by mocking craft beer. They admit that their beer is not to be “fussed over” or “dissected”, but this says their beer  that they mass produce has no differentiating taste because it’s sending the message that it’s “just beer” so just drink it. Not a smart advertising strategy to admit that Budweiser beer is a one note, uninteresting beer.

 

Another well done ad was “Invisible Mindy” by Nationwide. It featured celebrity Mind Kahling and Matt Damon and uses comedy and relatability to connect to the audience. The concept is that Mindy is “invisible” so she does whatever she wants, but in reality she’s not invisible, people just ignore her and the message is that Nationwide doesn’t do that to customers. It’s a light and fun ad that people enjoy as it uses familiarity with well known celebrities and funny ideas which is a great advertising tool that makes the commercial memorable.

 

Nationwide had another advertisement that has been very controversial called “Make Safe Happen”. It features a young boy not having any experiences because he died in an household accident. They tried to evoke an emotional response to make the audience connected to the commercial but the commercial was poorly done as many people have experienced this lost. Many are angry that they chose to do that ad to sell their product, especially as it was shown during the Super Bowl which portrays insensitivity and just wanting business. They were trying to convey the message that accidents happen and can be prevented but it looks like they are using the death of children to sell insurance. This shows how using ads for an emotional response doesn’t always work and can bring controversy. Sure people are talking about their company but it’s not the good kind and it will hurt their business.

 

Advertisement is important for companies to show their products and have their name out there. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do so. The main point to remember is that your advertisements should clearly portray your company’s goals and products. The Super Bowl commercials are entertaining and great to watch, but companies need to make sure the audience knows what they are trying to say and sell.

That being said, over here at BlueForest Studios we LOVE craft beer!

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Everyone’s Favorite Day for Commercials: The Big Game

My favorite commercial in the last several years comes from the “Big Game” of 2011. I’ve been a humongous Star Wars fan since my parents took me to see the films in the 90’s when they were being digitally remastered and shown in theaters again. If you’re reading this you probably know which commercial I’m already talking about.

 

Volkswagen truly captured the same childhood imagination (and desire for learning how to control The Force) I felt at that age. I’d like to think I’m going to buy a car that can turn on with the press of the button in hopes to do this to my future children.

 

Of course, who could forget the sweet story of friendship told in a minute time frame by Budweiser last year? I’m a sucker for anything with dogs in it but this is a legitimately beautiful piece of work.

 

Sure I’m bringing this up because Sunday will bring commercials filled with humor and sincerity. But does this only have to be during one day of the entire year? Absolutely not!

 

We take pride here at Blueforest Studios in creating content that is both engaging and informative. The most engaging way to capture the attention of your audience is to tell a story.

 

We certainly think adding a pinch of humor also works too.

 

So as the new year continues to roll on consider us for your marketing needs. We are storytellers that want to tell your story!

 

And if you are part of a non-profit in the Triangle area reading this consider applying for our free video giveaway! The window for submissions is closing on the 31st of this month. To check out more information visit our blog post from December here: http://blueforeststudios.com/blog/blueforest-gives-back-triangle-nonprofit-video-giveaway/

-Dustin

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Tips for Looking Your Best On Camera

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Are you appearing on camera soon? Whether it’s for an impromptu shoot, a professional corporate web video, or tv there are a few things you can do to make yourself look your best!

  • Take a deep breath. – If your heart is beating a thousand beats a minute it’s okay. :)
  • Lower your chin down a bit. – When people are on camera, they tend to ever so slightly raise their chin up.
  • Talk normally. – I’m guessing you are mic’d up. Avoid the urge to speak louder than you normally would.
  • Smile if appropriate. – It radiates through your eyes that you love what you do. It also keeps the viewer more engaged.
  • If you have a teleprompter use it but then lose it. – If you want to seem like you aren’t reading then don’t read. Unless highly trained, most people don’t feel or look genuine when they are reading.
  • Don’t be afraid to watch part of the video and then do it again. – It’s usually a lot easier to do more re-takes while everything is already set-up instead of tearing everything down and then deciding you weren’t happy with the way you looked or sounded.
  • Try to avoid really patterned clothing items that might create moire.
  • A little powder/foundation can really help with shine (guys you too).

 

Want to learn more? Comment below!

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The Power of the Play Button

I find myself scrolling through pictures on my iPhone often. I like to reminisce. Mixed in with the pictures are some videos I’ve taken — mostly of my kids. Both my toddler son and daughter love to grab my phone any chance they get. And I find it fascinating to watch what they do once they get it. Sometimes they immediately go straight to one of the apps I’ve downloaded for them. But, other times they head to the photo section. Their little fingers scroll through quickly from picture to picture. Occasionally stopping to giggle for a second or to turn the phone towards me to show me something they want me to see. “Gook” my daughter says instead of “look” smiling. But, any time they see a play button it’s game over. No matter how quickly they’ve been scrolling, if they catch a glimpse of that triangle they stop mid scroll or scroll backwards to find it again.

The power of the play button.

It’s like a magnet. You have to know what’s behind the thumbnail. On YouTube it’s even red. It’s almost like it’s telling you not to click it. But you have to. And that’s why video is so powerful. If you have a well written story then you’ve got something powerful. Add an image and voila even more powerful. But, add a video and you’ve just increased your audience engagement by a lot.

Video by itself isn’t enough. The video needs to be good. It needs to speak to your audience in a way that represents you, your brand, your company. And once you put one out that people like they’ll want more.

So think about what you stand for and how you are delivering your messages in 2015. If a toddler with a very short attention span is willing to stop for a moment to click the play button then think about what your potential audience may be willing to do.

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The Latest Trend in Television: 4K UHD

The digital world is evolving and unless businesses want their video content to go the way of the dinosaurs, our production techniques have to start evolving too.

Capitol Broadcasting Company recently attended the ATSC Broadcast Television Conference and spoke about plans to transition into a new television broadcast standard. In addition to reviewing highlights of the last transition from analog to digital television and addressing questions about the next transition, the implementation of 4K Ultra-High Definition Television was assessed in a panel discussion.

We started using the Red Scarlet 4K UHD camera last year after we heard it was taking Hollywood by storm. Movies such as Lone Survivor, Thor: The Dark World, and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug have all used the Red camera for filming, as well as television shows such as House of Cards, Criminal Minds, and Supernatural. Now, it very well may become part of the new television standard. As 4K prevails over alternatives, companies will have to adapt to the new technology in order to stay on top of the industry.

Globosat, a cable and satellite service in South America, has partnered with several other sony_4k_ces_header_contentfullwidthservice providers including Envivio, which has over 300 content and service provider clients worldwide, to broadcast the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals in 4K. Globostat CTO Robert Primo boasted that “Global sporting events like the 2014 World Cup finals are the ideal stage to showcase the promise of 4K TV to consumers.”

Right here in our neck of the woods, WRAL is pushing the envelope in their endeavors to incorporate 4K UHD cameras into their programming. Their documentary, Take Me Out to the Bulls Game, will debut on television later this summer and will be the first locally produced 4K program in the country.

Now is the time to start planning to produce in 4K, before your video content becomes obsolete. Our use of the Red camera to create 4K UHD productions is part of our efforts to stay ahead of the curve in the video industry, and we’d love to help your company make the transition into the new age of television. Contact us for more information about how we can deliver the newest, most cutting-edge services for your needs or watch our 4K demo reel below to see what we can do for you.

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Video SEO Done Right

I love learning!  There I said it – it’s no secret.  I have attended 7 institutions of higher learning and looking to attend another as soon as I can!  But while I love the institutions of higher learning not every single class provides knowledge that you can apply right away.  To gain practical knowledge – especially in a somewhat new field I rely on workshops, articles and meetups.  Thanks to my friend Phil Buckley who organizes the local SEO Meetup I have been able to learn from experts in the field of Video SEO – people who have had great successes for themselves, like Gregory Ng or for their clients, like Bob Walton.  So I’ve been using all the tips that they’ve provided – some of which are included on our 27-point checklist that we use for every client who requests video SEO help.

So as you might have gathered, I’m a bit of a geek.  I don’t get to see immediate results for the operations work that I do so when I get positive results for my efforts I’m thrilled to share them.

The screenshot above is a sample of excellent Video SEO.  All but one of the recommended videos are produced by Blueforest Studios so if the viewer has time and wants to check out more videos, I am not sending them to my competition – I am sending them to see more videos by our team.

This is not the most important part of Video SEO but controlling the message – including what comes up after your message or video can be very important.  Depending on your viewers YouTube knowledge they may assume that the ‘recommended’ videos are related to you anyway so don’t you want those videos – or at least the thumbnails to reflect positively on your company?

Stay posted to learn more about Video SEO or reach out to our team to see how we can help you!

Kathy Langfield

 

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Using Case Study Videos to Shape Brand Perception

Guest Blogger Dane Frederiksen

You’re on your way to interview for your dream job, so obviously you’ve donned your favorite sweatpants and ripped tee shirt. You’ve got the skills to do the job, so the way you present yourself shouldn’t matter at all, right?

Mmm. Maybe. Or maybe you should suit up in something a little less Saturday morning. Stand out for the right reasons. Perception matters. And the same applies to your branding efforts.

Let’s get back to the job interview scenario. Suppose you could walk into the hiring manager’s office and show him this. Not only do you look great, but you’re telling a compelling narrative with real-life characters, dramatic images, music—the works.

In their “interview video” above (call it a case study if you must), architecture firm Quinn Evans doesn’t just show off a series of standard portfolio images. Sure, they absolutely have a portfolio worth showing off, but their video marketing strategy goes deeper. They’re showing their value, not just their capabilities. They’re bringing more than diplomas and blueprints to the table; they’re bringing real-life impact, community involvement, and a narrative of who they are. I think it’s fair to say that, with this piece in their video marketing arsenal, they’ll ace the interview and get the job. Or, to break from the metaphor, they’ll be generating lots of online leads with this video.

There are a number of things to know before rushing into any project; video marketing is no different. Before you get started, here are a few tips and thoughts to take into consideration.

Find your focus. Decide what you’ll be using this video for and produce it accordingly. We’ve been talking case studies, but there lots of video marketing options: promoting a new service or product, recruiting, recording and sharing a live event. Whatever your topic, stick with it. Our rule: one video = one goal.

It’s not all about shooting. You can supplement video with cutaways to graphics or slideshows of images set to music or with voiceover. Not only can this lessen the expense and length of shoot times, but it offers some variation to the viewer. A single static shot of an interviewee, however sincere, rarely holds your audience’s attention.

Budget. This one’s tricky. Until you’ve found your focus and come up with a strategy, it’s impossible to determine your budget. And of course the production value comes into play here as well. A short, quirky video done by a start up could likely get away with a self-shot video—maybe even done on a phone. But a larger company or one with more gravitas will likely need the works: a high quality camera, lighting equipment, and professional editing tools. The best way to determine your budget is to find a partner with experience in the realm of video marketing or film production. Let them help you flesh out your focus and your concept, the length of your project, and the various logistics. Once this is done, your budget will be clearer.

Appeal to the heart and the head. There’s no one single way to succeed with case study video marketing. In the end, though, making something that both conveys information and tugs a little at the heartstrings will go a long way to convincing your potential clients to work with you. Video, with it’s ability to convey lots of info quickly is a great way to convince audiences of your qualifications; add the emotional elements: heartfelt testimonials, non-verbal cues, dramatic imagery, music… and your viewer goes from convinced to compelled.

About the Author: Dane Frederiksen owns Digital Accomplice, a Bay Area digital media company focused on creating video content for the gaming, tech and marketing industries, as well as partnering with developers to help produce and market their apps. Dane has been creating content for over 20 years and has worked with clients across the world, including Google, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Adobe, Verizon, Nokia, Microsoft, Sony and many more. Over the past decade, he has produced hundreds of video-game-related features for game developers around the globe. His work has won several national awards. A big idea entrepreneur with connections across the games/tech/geek media and marketing communities, Dane specializes in helping creative and technology businesses tell their stories and grow.

 

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Why Storytelling is More Influential Than Selling

storytell_image_webIn part one of our Infomercial vs. Commercial debate, we talked about how the main idea associated with infomercials is ‘annoying.’ Let’s be honest, there’s no quicker way to get us to switch channels than hearing the familiar Oxyclean advertisement, or one similar to it. Infomercials are highly identifiable by their traditional approach to selling items.  But one thing that you can’t ignore is that they work! Otherwise people wouldn’t spend the amount of money producing the videos or airing them if they didn’t.

We start with a demonstration of the product: what it does, why it’s amazing, why other brands don’t live up to this one. All of that is well and good; obviously it’s the type of information you’d want to include in any kind of marketing technique. But then they start in on the irritation…

“You get all of this for only $19.99! That’s right, everything you see here for just $19.99! Similar products are going for more than double that! But you get it all for – wait for it – $19.99!”

Come on, is anyone really fooled into thinking that this is some killer bargain? But then, of course, they try to sweeten the deal…

“But wait! Call now and you’ll also recieve this (fill in random useless item here) for no extra cost to you! That’s (product and useless item) for JUST $19.99!!!

And then they repeat their phone number about 500 times, so if you’re still tuned in by this point you’re spending a lot more time praying for the infomercial to be over than thinking about the product.

Now, think about that technique and ask yourself – wouldn’t an engaging and entertaining commercial go so much farther in persuading the consumer to buy the product than annoying them into submission? You might think the benefit of an infomercial is that it highlights the benefits of the product, but a well-made commercial can do all that and more. For example, we like to create a narrative around the product. We enrapture and enlighten through visual storytelling. This is a great option to think about if you want to appeal to customers through entertainment. People often remember more information when it’s embedded in an interesting story. This video explains why.

As an example of the storytelling advertising technique, you can look at the Evolvemint fundraising video we produced.

At Blueforest Studios, we love to tell stories – we’d love to tell YOUR story. Give us a call or check out our portfolio for more inspriation.

 

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Animation is More Than Cartoons

We’ve spent a lot of time over the last few months trying to elucidate on the advantages of using animation to promote your company. If you’re a conservative business, you may have turned your nose up at our previous blogs thinking that animation isn’t a suitable form of marketing for your brand. What I want to expand upon now is the fact that animation is not simply cartoons. Animation can be, and often is, a powerful tool for advertising across all types of businesses. You don’t have to be Disney to reap the benefits of a well-produced animated video.

There are many national businesses that have demonstrated creativity and entertainment while maintaining their earnest image and intellectual message through the use of animation. Ford Trucks advertised their 2013 F-150 model using animation, which enlightened viewers about the fuel economy and torque. IBM used whiteboard animation to describe how asset planning can increase productivity and efficiency.

Aside from being engaging and attention-grabbing, animation can add a lot of other useful features to your advertising message. Often, animation can show viewers concepts that can’t be filmed or photographed. There are no limits to what can be shown with animation. In addition, it often helps explain complex processes or ideas in a way that’s easily understandable for viewers.

A lot of production companies can offer animation services, but if you want an example of how we here at Blueforest Studios has used our animation skills to deliver messages that aren’t simply playful, but educational and informative, you can check out the web video we created for Tar Heel Tax Reform.

When you realize that animation may be just the avenue to spicy up your marketing campaign, we’re here for you!