Responding to the Speed of the Medium

PR mediums in motion
Following YouTube’s example and using it as inspiration for future projects

Earlier this week, Google owned site YouTube began its Life in a Day project. This involved uploading a video about your own day to day life in the hope that it will be one of the few selected for use in the upcoming documentary film, also called Life in a Day, directed by Ridley Scott and Kevin Macdonald. The idea of the project is to create a film entirely made of user-generated content that will inspire other users to start filming, or simply to start visiting YouTube.

There are clear implications behind the film. In recent years many users have complained that YouTube is moving away from the user-generated content that it is famous for and becoming overly commercialised. There are a few indications of this, such as the paid-for movie rental service now available in North America, and the addition of television shows to the site itself.

This film is as much about winning back the trust of current users as it is about making a piece of cinema. One of the other winning features here is that the film is (to begin with) only available on the site itself, for free. Scott and Macdonald are clearly eager to get back the approval of users, even at the cost of financial gain.

There are other interesting implications to the film, such as the built in restriction that all footage be shot on the July 24, 2010, and uploaded on the same day. This raises some very intriguing questions for marketing folk, as the amount of footage the project has generated is simply enormous. The use of the deadline seems to have spurred many users to begin filming, and has resulted in some clever, creative and funny content.

One begins to wonder if the same would have happened if the submission time had been over a few weeks, or even months; would there have been the same drive to create something? And it raises the question; would the same happen if, for example, a focus group were given one day only to come up with a marketing strategy, or a viral-ad campaign, or a new product or service entirely? Would it be worth a company investing time and money into such a plan, at the risk of generating no ideas at all, if there was the possibility that they would create something truly brilliant that could potentially gain back their initial outlay many times over?

These are certainly all questions to think on. But perhaps the biggest thing one can take away from this project is its speed. If we applied this kind of impetus to our work in industrial marketing, what would happen? What if, instead of spending six months planning your first online video, you set yourself the deadline of today, or the end of the week?

Why not create a custom video press release as well as a written statement, film a case study or a talking head to express an opinion on your Web site? But the key is to follow YouTube’s example and do it today; respond with the innate speed of the medium. And if that doesn’t inspire you to pick up a camera and start filming, what will?

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Richard Stone

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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