That’s A Wrap! Now What?

mlp-countdown2Note: This is the second installment of our two part video production tips post. Read part one in Lights, Camera, Action, Oh My? 

So, you’ve finished your big video shoot and now you have an assemblage of footage that could benefit from editing. It’s important to understand that video editing is not just about trimming the footage; it’s also about creating flow and emotion, as well as making it entertaining. Editing a video that has good flow and some catchy music will make all that time you took shooting the video worth it. But first you’ll need to choose a video editor.

Video editors like Adobe Premier and Final Cut Pro are largely regarded as the most comprehensive video editing applications, but they are costly tools for beginners to learn on. Luckily there a number of free options available to everyone.

Mac users shouldn’t need to be reminded of iMovie, Apple’s movie editing software that is included on all new Macs. And Windows users can download Windows Live Movie Maker. Even YouTube has it’s own Video Editor. These tools all have pretty intuitive interfaces that allow you to easily trim video segments and drag-and-drop video segments along a timeline. They also provide the ability to add music tracks, text overlays and other simple effects.

Now that you have a video editor, here are some tips to help you polish your video into engaging content that everyone will want to watch:

  • Create a “rough cut.” Review all your footage and trim into usable segments, then organize chronologically.
  • Tell your story. Think about what you are trying to convey to the viewer and organize your segments to enhance that feeling. Don’t be afraid to try different things and to cut footage that just doesn’t fit.
  • Don’t make too many cuts. Try to use shots around 5 seconds each, this is roughly the time it take for the human eye to digest the picture. Any less time between cuts and your video may appear “strobe” like and this could make the viewer feel anxious. Longer shots could bore your viewer if there isn’t a good mix of interesting images and movement.
  • Add effects. Adding transitions and overlays can bump up the cool factor, but try not to overdo it. Use overlays to give viewers context and reminders, but only use them for the first 3-5 seconds of a clip. Adding transitions can enhance the beauty or feeling of your video, but keep it simple with cross-fades and forego the checkerboard wipes and twirling effects. Try different things, play it back a few times, and decide what effects are most appropriate for your audience.
  • Add intros and outros. Not only does adding title slides or credits make your video look professional, it’s a good way to set up the point of your video for viewers – and to spell out what you would like viewers to do after watching the video.
  • Use basic fonts. It is a much safer bet to stick with proven fonts like Times, Arial, Tahoma, Garamond, Helvetica, etc. Reason being, they are easier to read when watching a small video on a mobile device. This may sound contrary to flexing your creative side, but using decorative fonts can actually make your video look amateur rather than creative.
  • Add a music track. Adding an underlying music track can bring a completely different message to your viewer. Try different types of music to see how it impacts the mood of your video. Music tracks can also camouflage unintentional background noise in your footage. Before making your music selections, it would be wise to familiarize yourself with Creative Commons and Public Domain Music and Royalty Free Music.

Have some basic video editing tips of your own? We would love to hear them in the comments below.

Persuasive Picks for week of 5/20/13

twitter-bird-white-on-blue3Shea Bennett, Co-editor at AllTwitter, has been writing about Twitter on a near-daily basis for more than four years. Over that time-period, Twitter has changed considerably and continues to evolve. Accordingly, so has the way that Bennett thinks and writes about Twitter. There are some valuable tips to be found in her lessons learned – What I Have Learned From Writing 2,000 Articles About Twitter

If you’ve done any marketing on Facebook, then you’ve probably seen both successful fan pages and not-so-successful fan pages. So there must be some sort of “secret” to successful Facebook pages, right? Business2Community contributor Scott Ayres sure thinks so, and that’s what he set out to discover when he asked a few Facebook experts for the inside scoop in The #1 Secret of Successful Facebook Pages – 5 Experts Weigh-in

business_bookAs more businesses continue to enter the blogosphere, they run the risk of publishing clichéd, outdated articles in the hopes of attracting a wider audience. Business blogger and MyCorporation CEO Deborah Sweeney explains that she has seen plenty of business blogs that continue to publish material that is either uninteresting or unprofessional and, to stem the flow of poorly written postings. She recommends Five Topics to Avoid When Writing Your Business’s Blog on SocialMediaToday.

4 Social Media Tips Businesses Can Learn from Celebrities – Although most lists of “things we can learn from celebrities” include more don’t's than do’s, there is definitely one thing they can teach us: the art of social media. Celebrities, much like big businesses, have huge name recognition and fan loyalty. Also, like the corporate world, they have new projects, products and ventures they’re promoting via the social web. Social Media Consultant Lisa Parkin provides a few lessons businesses can learn from social media-savvy celebs in her piece at The Huffington Post.

Life Lessons From Mom That Also Apply to a Career in PR

For some of us, “All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” still rings true. Play nice, share with others, don’t interrupt, work hard; the list goes on.

For me, a lot of the advice I call upon in my adult life revolves around what my parents taught me. I use their advice in parenting, how I treat my loved ones – both family and friends – and everything in between. Much of their advice I even apply to my career as a PR executive. In honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to share my thoughts, and those of my teammates, on how Mom’s early lessons stick with us and still help us in our careers today.

momWhen I was young, I struggled with math. Words always came much easier to me. As the daughter of two parents who worked for a national newspaper, you could say it was in the blood. How could I get through this math monkey on my back and change my perspective? My mother taught me that we all have to do things we don’t want to do. We all have to tackle the hard things. Part of life is this yin and yang of easy and hard. So with the assistance of kind teachers, patient parents, and most importantly a change in me, I switched my thinking and began to use the mantra, “I will not give up.” I heeded my mother’s tough advice. She didn’t have a ton of sympathy, but rather told me over and over, “Keep at it, be tough, and do not give up.”

I am no longer tackling Pi or the Pythagorean Theorem, or cringing after being called up to write on the blackboard in math class  - but each day as a PR professional, I am still faced with challenges that call for mental toughness and confidence. This is when the parts of my job that are harder and grittier than others call for my mom’s good old “don’t give up” mantra. This mantra makes for happy clients, solid journalistic relationships and a constant quest for me to deliver top results while striving to do better.

My PerkettPR colleagues shared what they’ve learned from their mothers as well. Here’s a collection of the awesome advice that they still carry with them in their PR careers.

From Christine Perkett

My mother taught me not to undervalue myself – which comes in handy when negotiating as both employer and vendor. My grandmother taught me that men are like street cars — a new one will always come along. I say the same is true clients – not that I don’t appreciate the ones we have (I so do!), but that they come and go and that losing one is not the end of the world.

 From Susan Sweenie:

My mom taught me that even when dealing with someone tough or not interested, just kill them with kindness. 

From Crystal Monahan:

I’ve had the privilege of having two moms in my life – my actual mom and my stepmother. Although different in innumerable ways, they both share one admirable trait that I have tried to emulate in my life and career. They both possess a remarkable work ethic. They work dawn to dusk if necessary. They have held multiple jobs to provide for their families. Nothing is beneath them – if it needs to get done, they do it. They both understand that nothing in life comes free and great pride comes from a job well done.

I’ve always tried to do my best and work my hardest, and have always appreciated the sense of accomplishment at seeing the results of my efforts whether it’s completing monthly status reports on time, writing a solid press release, or seeing my clients in the media.

Whenever I’m feeling lazy, I think about my two moms and I know they’ve probably already accomplished more in a day than many people do in a week, and I’m inspired to get back to work.

From Susie Dougherty:

“Mind your manners…” Something my mom was a stickler about, much to my benefit. I think most of us (well, maybe not as many as I’d like to think) grow up to be mindful of the simple words and gestures that help make us respected adults. But with today’s email and social media – suddenly a lot of those manners have gone out the window. Thanks to my mom for somehow making those words stick –even as the Internet has fundamentally changed in so many ways how we communicate. I’m still using my manners behind my laptop or iPhone or tablet screen – and I know that stands out to clients, reporters and even my own colleagues.”

From Jennifer Hellickson:

My mom’s a big proponent of the Golden Rule – treat others as you’d like to be treated – and this goes a long way in PR. Going that extra mile for both our clients and our colleagues in the media means trying to not only think from their perspective, but also anticipate their needs, as well. This creates a better working environment for everyone and ultimately allows us, as PR professionals, to better serve the company’s mission.

From Heather Bliss :

Mom taught me so many amazing lessons, but one of the most valuable was to be a good listener and problem solver. She has an uncanny ability to be able to listen to ANYONE, and I mean anyone. Whether it’s a family member, friend, colleague or a stranger on the park bench next to her — if they have a problem my mom has the time and patience to listen and to try and help solve it. I learned how to translate some small part of this gift of hers to my work in PR to really listen to clients and understand the issues they face and try to problem solve solutions as my mother would with quickness and calm.

And, fellow PerkettPR staff member (and new mom herself) agrees:

Johanna Lucia adds:

My Mom always taught me the importance of being a good listener. She helped instill this very powerful life skill in me, and when it comes to PR– we need to hear our clients. Listening to our clients’ wants and needs is a vital part of our role and in helping develop effective PR strategies.

What inspirational mom lessons can you share with us? Do you have a favorite piece of advice learned in childhood that still remains a part of your work habit today? Please share your stories in the comments.

5 Elements of an Effective Press Release

press_release_writing“The shorter and the plainer the better.” –Beatrix Potter

“Brevity is the soul of wit.” – Shakespeare

Minute by minute, a dizzying amount of data is created in this content-driven world. (Don’t believe me? Check out this infographic from DOMO )

And as PR folks, we’re under the gun to get the message across – clearly, thoroughly and correctly on behalf of our clients.

More often than not, this takes the form of a press release, the worth and future of which has become an annual debate. (But that’s another blog post entirely… For our purposes here, rather than dispute its inherent value, let’s focus on a few ways in which we can improve upon the content of future announcements we’re putting out into the ether).

I found a great article by Bill Stoller, The Ten Commandments of a Press Release, where he outlines his top ten “shalts” and “shalt nots.” In it, he argues that “when the recipient of a release focuses only on its content — and not on its creation — the writer has succeeded.”

Stoller’s point is an important one: Good writing allows the reader to focus on the message versus the medium. Although we’re taught to write one way growing up, I tend to think that the most effective press releases today follow these five guidelines:

  1. K.I.S.S. “Simple” works, but “short” is even more impactful in our content-crazed world.
  2. Sell the story, not your company. Yes, we know who is paying for the release, but that doesn’t mean anything if no one wants to cover it, correct? Take the time to create context.
  3. Remember your audience. Resist the urge to use marketing speak or pepper in industry acronyms. B2B or B2C, it’s doesn’t matter; keep it straightforward and interesting.
  4. Do the legwork. Again, know your targets and how they like to receive content. Social media savvy? Try tweeting a link to the release. Very visual? Scrap the words and make an infographic with your information. Make it easy for journalists to do their job, and they may just reciprocate.
  5. See number one. We’re following our own rules here.

Do you have any other principles for better press releases that you’d like to see added to the list? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Got content? 5 tips for great newsletter content

contentNewsletter creation can be remarkably challenging for even the most prolific writer. After all, your newsletter has some lofty goals: get through spam filters, attract readers’ eyes, get opened, get read, get click-thrus, convert to a lead, and if all the stars align – result in a sale. Phew!

Coming up with good content is easier than you might think. Here are some proven tips we’ve picked up over the years to help you get started:

  1. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes – Think about newsletters you like to read and try to mimic that type of content. Is the tone fun and lighthearted; is the content informative and educational? If you enjoy a specific style or type of content, chances are your readers will too.
  2. Don’t try to sell anything – Sure, the ultimate goal with any marketing tactic is to increase sales, but a newsletter should first seek to engage your audience. Your goal should be to capture their attention and provide interesting, compelling content that holds their interest over time. This helps to keep your services top of mind when your prospects are ready to buy them.
  3. Lighten up – Business is serious, but dry and dull is not the kind of content you want to provide your readers. Your content can be both informative and entertaining. Hear a funny customer story? Share it. A Ron Burgundy fan? Include a favorite quote when it makes sense.
  4. Recycle existing content – Old content can be new again. Revisit archived blog posts, customer success stories or past campaigns. Even current content on your blog, website, Pinterest page, or other marketing channel can be repurposed as newsletter content.
  5. Create repeatable content – Create a series such as a customer or campaign of the month, or a tips series where you share one piece of advice to a common challenge in each newsletter. This helps keep your readers engaged and looking forward to your next issue.

When thinking about newsletter content, remember that your audience – whether they’re prospects you’d like to convert to customers, or existing customers you’d like to retain – they opted in to your newsletter for a reason: they’re interested in learning more about your business and what you can do for them. You don’t need to attract their attention; you need to keep it. Cater to their interests with relevant content that offers valuable, entertaining, educational information. Keep this in mind as you develop your newsletter and you won’t disappoint.

What’s your best tip for creating great newsletter content? Please share in the comments.