A note from Heather: After a story this summer about the increasing popularity of YouTube “haulers,” I’ve noticed more discussion from PR people about the process of pitching video bloggers. Just as PR had to learn how to pitch bloggers, now we need to expand our skill set to pitch vloggers. My hope is that this guest post from Danny Wong will spark some discussion and get you thinking about creative ways to incorporate video blogs into your PR outreach. And with that, I bring you Danny …
There is a new wave in media in which independents and groups are conquering the web through self-publishing, so without Master’s Degrees in Journalism or even Bachelor’s Degrees in Video Production, self-made stars are exploding. In the realm of YouTube, you see 17 year olds captivating large audiences in 3 – 10 minute clips about beauty and how to’s, comedy and gaming. YouTube has empowered a community of wannabes to actually become their own stars, to publish their own thoughts and opinions while making a decent buck off of their efforts too. With their massive followings and consistently good video views, it’s a fact that these YouTube stars are becoming a media channel of their own, and businesses are taking notice.
While a story in your local newspaper might generate only 100 hits to your website, or a feature in top blog Mashable might get you 5,000 hits in a week, a major YouTube vlogger can get you 500,000 hits in one week! Therefore, these video bloggers have become a target for media marketers looking to capture hundreds of thousands, and maybe even millions of eyes and ears for their targeted messaging.
As a marketer or PR specialist pitching a video blogger, you should be mindful of a few things when pitching video bloggers:
Most video bloggers aren’t publishing all the time.
This is something to be aware of, the fact that many video bloggers do this as a hobby and might not have the time to do videos on businesses with interesting products or services. Some are in high school, college or have other full-time jobs and might even be raising a family so it’s easy for them to neglect working their channel for a while, unlike journalists who are always looking for great stories to write about because that’s how they make a living, plus better stories they publish improve their writing portfolio making them better assets to any publishers.
They are usually only publishing vertical content.
Sort of like with journalists, make sure you’re providing something relevant to a vlogger’s audience and relevant to what they’ve made videos on before. But unlike most journalists, many video bloggers are willing to do more regular product reviews and features on businesses and services they’ve worked with before and on products and services similar to things they’ve reviewed before. Journalists dislike writing about anything too similar twice unless there’s something glaringly unique about the newer thing.
You can bribe them.
First off, you should be well aware that a lot of times, for the bigger vloggers, they mostly work with businesses that are providing large cash payouts to sponsor a video, and you might run into video bloggers (or their agents) along your pitching journey who’ll be looking for payments for video production. You can’t quite pay off journalists to write about you (legally and for the big outlets anyways), unlike with many vloggers who make a nice living or supplement their incomes with sponsored videos (which are fully disclosed) on their YouTube channel. (Editor’s note: If payment is exchanged, be sure you’re complying with disclosure rules. Brian Solis wrote a looong — but well worth reading — post about the FTC’s blogger guidelines. Check it out if you’re not sure how FTC regulations impact PR and blogger outreach.)
They LOVE free stuff.
Many traditional journalists are turning free things down these days because they’d rather pay for your product or service out-of-pocket, or as part of their company’s expense budget, to feel an unbiased sense when reviewing your product. There’s also a lot of ‘red tape’ since news organizations typically have policies forbidding writers to take free product even though many writers LOVE free stuff too. But since many video bloggers are independents with personally established guidelines, they are entirely able to accept free things as long as they stick to FTC guidelines, and are usually more than happy to try out new products and services. Most video bloggers are independent publishers, and as media entrepreneurs, they probably would rather not create an expense budget coming out of their own pocket.
They love their audience more than they do a good story.
They have a lot of love for their subscribers who fuel their superstardom and would be wise to only create content their audience will love, no matter how excited they are about a product or service and no matter how “breaking” the news is. They’ll only create a video if they know their viewers would learn a little something, laugh quite a bit, and even be influenced to share it with their friends. Journalists are looking for different types of scoops – usually stories that their publisher wants them to write (not a ton of free range) and “breaking” stories (because the first-to-publish is always a concern with publishers).
Danny Wong is the Media Specialist for Blank Label Group, which runs Blank Label, Thread Tradition and RE:custom. He’s also dabbled with a few video reviews that were strictly editorial and sponsored.
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