Ep. 42 | Using Video and Social Media to Win Better Earned Media

Greg Kunkel Rethink Marketing Podcast Thumbnail

In this week’s episode, we chat with Greg Kunkel about using video and social media to amplify your story and win bigger, better earned media.

Greg is the marketing communications program manager for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, or PNNL, one of the 17 U.S. Department of Energy National Labs around the country. I interviewed Greg during the Digital Summit PDX earlier this summer, where he was a speaker.

Greg believes brands can use short, social-friendly videos to share compelling stories that generate a goldilocks perfect amount of buzz on those channels that, in turn, prompt news outlets to pick up the story and share it with their larger audiences.

Easy peezy, right?

Generations of brands have been trying to win earned media. Often, this was initiated via a press release. As a former newspaper reporter, I often received press releases. And just as quickly as I received them, I would send them to the round file. That was 10 years ago when reporters had more resources and more time to even scan your press release. Now they don’t.

Kunkel said journalism has changed over that time. Before, advertising space was sold based on size and space, now it is sold on clicks and impressions. As a result, reporters care about the same things brands care about – clicks and impressions.

Journalists are want to write a story that will generate lots clicks and impressions. And one place they are sourcing for clickable stories is social media. Kunkel calls this the “Circle of Likes,” where something is posted on a social channel, it gets liked and shared several times, the news media picks it up and reports on it, and that coverage is then liked and shared and it keeps going and going.

Kunkel said often that original post often has some sort of multimedia whether that is a picture, or video. He’s offered these tips that brands can use to break into the Cycle of Likes and win favorable earned media for their organizations.

Graphic that outlines the components to using video to win earned media

Three Parts to Using Video

Kunkel said there are three parts to using video grab the attention of news media:

  • A compelling story
  • A captivating video
  • An audience … preferably a big one

Kunkel uses what he calls the Dining Room Test, which is when he tells a work story at the dinner table and if everyone’s eyes light up then he knows he has a compelling story. Don’t have a dinner table? You can organize a formal or ad hoc focus group, or you may have a peer group you can consult.

What a Compelling Video Isn’t

Another way to identify your compelling story is to know what it isn’t. “Despite popular belief journalists are not in the business of promoting your company,” Kunkel said.

He suggests reading a Harvard Business Review article on The Emotional Combinations That Make Stories Go Viral” to help identify your compelling story. In the article, they found that stories that got shared were inspirational or admirable, and the viewer engaging with it felt a high sense of control.

Tips for Producing a Compelling Video

He suggests looking at your own Facebook and Twitter feeds to see what types of stories folks are sharing. Some tips he suggests for producing your compelling video:

  • Start with the most compelling shot. Hook the viewer quickly.
  • 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound. Consider just using captions.
  • 50% of videos are watched on a mobile device. Make sure to render your videos in mobile-friendly formats.
  • He strongly believes your compelling video should be a minute long or less, and that definitely anything over 2 minutes is too long
Tips to producing a great video to win earned media

Another tip is to look for examples of who is doing this well and copy their style. An example he’s used are the Buzzfeed Tasty videos.

How to Activate Your Video

Once you have produced your video, the next step is activating it and getting it in front of journalists. Begin with embedding the video in your press release, or including it as a url in the press release.

The next step is to make sure you activate the video across all your channels (press release, website, social media) at the same time to generate the most buzz as quickly as possible. Aiding in that effort, you should build out a team of advocates that will quickly like and share your video on their channels. This team can and should include your employees, partners and loyal customers.

The next thing to do post the video on channels where your audience is already having a conversation. Odds are, Kunkel said, the journalists that cover your industry are also monitoring the same forums where your audience is having those conversations. One popular place for this is on Reddit.