Video Trends in Public Relations and Marketing

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In late 2021, Tetra Films began reaching out to public relations and marketing companies across North America with the intention of understanding how companies in these industries are using video, and to explore what trends there might be there.

Methodology

With the goal in mind of reaching out to 100 companies, we turned to the online resources Clutch and Upcity to compile our sample of businesses throughout Canada and the United States.

From early December to mid-January, we reached out to marketing directors and account managers across North America via phone and/or email, gathering answers to the following five questions.

  1. Has the need for video ever come up in projects or do you see the need for it?
  2. How do you use video? Do you see it being used in the future?
  3. Did you notice any trends? Recurring themes this year?
  4. What is missing from video or the process that you’d like to see?
  5. What are some success stories from clients who’ve used video?

On January 18th, 2022, we took the data we had gathered and consolidated it into the following findings.

Findings: Trends in Video Use

Video for Social Media & Engagement

The most evident trend that was found as soon as the first few responses were collected was the use of video for social media. 55% of responses cited using video for such, with over 80% of answers within that 55% specifically mentioning that they have been using video for TikTok and Instagram Reels, which are more recent players in the social media game.

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Instagram introduced its Reels feature in the late summer of 2020, likely due to the significant spike in TikTok users throughout the spring of that year’s quarantine. Instagram Reels offers an extremely similar format to that of TikTok, allowing users to create vertical videos up to 60-seconds long and having a separate tab where viewers can scroll through the Reels suggested to them by the Instagram algorithm, same as TikTok’s For You Page.

Claire Henwood, one of our respondents and the Account Director at Reformation, a Vancouver-based PR and social media marketing agency, cited that there has been a “boom in popularity of TikTok and Instagram Reels” in the last year, explaining why more and more marketing companies are turning to these platforms.

Related to the use of video for social media, several respondents also said that they have found that video has become necessary for engagement. With the internet being as oversaturated with content as it is, video is “definitely more engaging” to audiences than “just still imagery” (Nick Leonard, Skyrocket Creative Director). To encourage engagement, many responses reinforced the idea that short-form videos are what is working right now, saying things such as, “For videos to be engaged with and capture the attention of the viewer, they need to be shorter [and] more fun” (Claire Henwood, Reformation Account Director).

Considering these trends side-by-side, it can be seen that there is a relationship between where people are consuming content and the length of the content that people are willing to engage with. On Instagram Reels and TikTok, videos have a maximum length of 60 seconds and 3 minutes, respectively. In working within those time constraints and using those platforms, marketing and PR companies are able to meet audiences where they are and provide them with content that interests them.

The following video is an example of a promotional video for social Tetra Films created for Husqvarna, a commercial and residential machinery company. The content is kept short and highlights somebody who has had real experience with the product being promoted. Creating a video like this, either landscape such as this one for standard feed posts, or making similar vertical content for Reels or TikTok is something worth considering.

Moving forward, public relations and marketing companies should continue to explore how they can use video for social media and think about how they can create content specifically for their social platforms. Keep an eye on what platforms and features seem to be on the rise. If applicable to their clients, they should strategize how vertical videos can be used to meet their marketing goals.

Despite being by far the most popular answer, social media is not the only way participants said they were using video. Other answers included using video to supplement blog posts and ESG campaigns, as well as creating video lifestyle content, commercial content, and explainer content.

“Organic” Video vs. “Overproduced” Video

From our research, it became clear that there is a need for video content that comes across as “organic,” “authentic,” and “genuine.” Videos that come across as overproduced or overedited are not cutting it for audiences anymore.

When you consider this trend with the fact that video is being used heavily in social media spaces, it makes sense that this is the content people are looking for. With the current popular video-based social media platforms, TikTok in particular, a majority of the content being created is user-generated and produced using only a phone camera and the editing tools offered within the app, resulting in the “organic” feeling audiences are looking for. Since this is the content large audiences are choosing to engage with in their free time, it makes sense for marketing and PR companies to try to meet them there for advertising purposes, too.

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Additionally, Instagram Stories can act as a good, lower-commitment place to dive into authentic feeling content, as it only stays on a profile for 24 hours unless saved to a highlight. Stories are similar to Instagram Reels and TikTok in the sense that they are short-form, vertical posts that take a more casual approach. Echoing the responses from our research participants, a Forbes article notes that “storytelling for brands and media has shifted from a more produced look … to content that is produced more natively” and is trending closer to something that feels like “how a friend would produce content so that it flows seamlessly throughout the user’s viewing experience.” According to Forbes, this shift away from more traditional advertising has led to increased engagement and responses from audiences, with the Stories feature specifically making it particularly easy for followers to engage in one-on-one conversations with brands due to the swipe-up reply feature.

Since it is a little bit easier to create content that doesn’t require heavy production or editing, clients may feel inclined to put together their videos on their own. While this can work, it is important that marketing and PR companies ensure that their clients are set up with a marketing strategy before they begin the production of their videos. This will make sure that the content they are creating is still cohesive and has a professional feel to it, and that it is still high-quality content that is representative of the brand.

If clients do not feel confident that they can create such content on their own, a second option would be to partner with a video production company that has experience in creating the desired style of content. Look for portfolios of work online from production companies you might be interested in working with to see if they can provide the services you are looking for

Needing a Smoother Production and Editing Process

The desire for a smoother editing and production process was a sentiment repeated by 27% of study respondents. Skyrocket Creative Director Nick Leonard has had trouble with video producers leaving “a lot to be desired” and a general lack of artistic value in their video projects. Tyler Mullins from Omni Agency echoed a similar response, finding that there has been a lack of “streamlined” production processes, and Jordan Wolf from Atrium Digital stated that “editing is a pain.”

To combat problems like this, marketing and PR companies can educate themselves on what the video production process should look like and understand approximately how long the whole process should take based on the scope of their project. Doing so will help ensure that they have realistic expectations for the timeline. Additionally, they should ensure that the video production company they are partnering with has a proven pre-production, production, and post-production process, which will help guarantee that the video has a clear message and meets expectations.

As mentioned above, the creation of a video is typically broken down into three stages: pre-production, production, and post-production. Pre-production includes all of the steps that need to be taken before a video can be shot. It can look a little bit different depending on the scope and goal of the project but generally includes setting a budget, creating a video strategy and deciding on the story, setting a timeline, writing a script, acquiring talent, gathering necessary equipment, and selecting a shooting location. If it’s a smaller project, it’s possible that not all of these will be necessary, but they are good to be aware of.

Production entails the steps that are taken to gather the content needed for the video. Start by setting up any equipment that is necessary for the shoot, such as cameras, sound systems, and lighting. After that, it is time to start shooting any necessary footage, which can include acted-out scenes, interviews, voiceovers, b-roll, and more. Once this is done, it is time to move on to post-production.

Post-production is the final phase where the video project will really start to come together. It includes editing, music selection, the creation of any additional graphics needed to support the video, and can include rounds of reviews where the client can request changes if included in the video package. The post-production phase is where the story will come together, and the client should be left with a video that has a clear message.

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Other Interesting Findings

Not all findings were significant enough to be considered a trend, or were not given enough context to draw a proper conclusion from, but here are some additional findings we find worth mentioning.

The most common of these smaller responses was that 36% of respondents briefly mentioned having used animation in some capacity in the last year. Some of these mentions included using 3D animation for explainer videos and tutorials, while others were more simple, such as creating small graphics for social media.

Cost was cited as a common barrier to clients using video, with affordability being the main problem 18% of marketing and PR companies have run into. Another interesting finding from Sonam Ram, the Account Manager at The Social Agency is that videos that have people’s faces in them tend to perform better than those that don’t. A majority of respondents seemed to agree that video for social media is going to continue to evolve and grow, and some companies, such as Popcorn, are beginning to work with video production companies specializing in social media.

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Conclusion

Throughout the course of our research, Tetra Films successfully discovered some of the trends in video use by public relations and marketing companies. While this research is by no means exhaustive and is limited due to sample size and geography, we still believe it is valuable in understanding the current video market and how all three industries are evolving.

The main takeaways from this course of research are as follows: video is being used heavily for social media and engagement, audiences are looking for video content that feels authentic, and PR and marketing companies are looking for smoother editing and production processes. Understanding these trends are beneficial for both the public relations and marketing agencies, as well as for video production companies, as they can help all three businesses better serve their clientele.

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