Vlogging and the New DIY PR

December 4, 2007

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(image: Andy Plesser shooting footage for The New York Times corporate site)

I’ve been talking to people in the industry about the fight for marketing dollars recently between interactive agencies, PR firms, and other consultants. Where PR people succeed and fail–and this was the main theme of the Critical Issues Forum–is in their ability to tell compelling stories. My theory is the overall nut of marketing dollars will remain the same, while PR firms fight to keep what they have, or learn new methods and take a bigger chunk. Creating new media, specifically producing video for the web is going to be the nut the industry fights for.

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Deadlines caused PRNewser to miss the ferry over the Styx today for an important press conference in Hell. The Devil sent his spokesdemon to deliver an apology for his role in global warming, and offer to sell back souls for a meager $6.66. We hoped to ask our questions via videolink, though like that press conference last week, it was a “listen only”.

We intend to follow up with fair and balanced reporting. We heard from another important spokesperson last week about the health benefits of climate change.

Sign up for the Hellish campaign at ReSould.com.

Happy Halloween.

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Photo: Andy Plesser interviewing Robert Scoble

Sadly, PRNewser’s series on Gawker’s Conquering All Media is coming to a close this week. Caught up in the melee of the FEMA scandal we neglected to write up another key response from an agency head to Choire Sicha’s thoughts on Michael’s restaurant.

Andy Plesser, founder of Plesser Holland, placed gossip items and feature stories on behalf of the restaurant in the 90s prior to transitioning away from lifestyle clients in 1999. To summarize his thoughts: go to lunch to gawk, go to breakfast to cut your deals.

Plesser understands both the need for some offline gawking as well as the new rules of the self-referential blogodome. His Beet.tv is a mostly serious, and well-trafficked (Technorati top 10,000) vlog covering the online video revolution. See him commenting on Beet.tv v. Scoble here, and a vlog-within-a-vlog on Kara Swisher’s AllThingsD. Vlogodome? Copyright pending.

Like other influencers featured on PRNewser, Plesser graciously denied his impact on his former client. Before getting to his comments, I disclose that I worked for his firm from 2000 to 2006:

Jason, you flatter me that I’m the “guru,” it’s Michael and his staff who have brilliantly created an enduring scene and brand by knowing “who is important” in building the electricity in the room. The other cool thing is that Michael is very loyal to customers who are seen as important, even it they are not in the spotlight or employed. There’s a lot of buzz in the room, but goodwill, which makes the scene so enduring.

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Peter Shankman, founder of the Geek Factory and expert stuntster tipped us off via chat that he’s going on Fox News at 5 PM to discuss the PR ramifications of City Councilman James Oddo’s F-bomb flinging interview with a female, blond, Scandinavian version of Ali G.

Peter will make the point that everything is on the record. Watch the clip. Oddo is not amused, and neither is the Assimilated Negro.

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Another campus flare-up is keeping a college public affairs department very busy this week, this time it’s Texas Tech. A fraternity member created t-shirts playing off the Michael Vick controversy to rile up longstanding football rivals Texas A&AM.

This story spun out very quickly on blogs (Deadspin got it extremely early), and on the wires, creating a wave of bad press. It’s likely to be on cable shows tonight.

PRNewser spoke to Sally Louge Post, Texas Tech’s Director of Communications to find out more about their response and how often the phone is ringing, and who’s calling for comment. Post declined to answer and referred us to the school’s statement on the matter (after the jump) but did say the university is working to improve response mechanisms online.

Texas A&M showed savvy by putting out a video of their students’ responses, albeit difficult to find.

For other examples of how quickly the media hops on college stories, see Columbia, University of Florida, and one we didn’t post, the uproar over a two-word editorial published in the Rocky Mountain Collegian directed at George Bush simply stating F%&* YOU.

University PR people have many stakeholders to appease and very old reputations to protect. The upside is they have a wealth of experts at their disposal for NPR and on the op-ed pages.

Texas Tech’s statement on the t-shirts:

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How many times have you heard the now dreadful phrase “viral video” at a recent meeting or conference call? Everyone is scrambling to create the next web sensation – Mentos and Coke! – and grab the attention of the Youtube/Blogosphere/Facebook (Twitter?) mob for ten minutes or maybe a week. But besides viral (there, I said it) stunts, there are many ways PR and marketing people are using video as a) the media are asking for it and b) clients are asking for video and “Web 2.0″ strategies more than ever.

PRNewser spoke with eight of the top PR video vendors, asking about online plans and what they’re hearing from clients. All of course also over a variety of broadcast services. Depending on your client and budget, you could be better off researching a local production company or freelancer. That’s not at all a knock on the companies we spoke with, although we’re sure they’d disagree. These are national and global firms that offer more complex services than “get me a guy with a camera!” There’s definitely some curious marketing speak in some of the responses though, so read carefully and enjoy!
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