The Year PR Went Live

Live streaming video is not new. What is new is the way that it is being integrated into social media channels. With Twitter’s Periscope taking on Meerkat, and Facebook looking to claim a piece of the pie, uptake is exploding. It has become an effective tool to engage, influence and convert.

Celebrities have added additional fuel. With the likes of Dwayne Johnson, Edward Norton, Michael Buble and Madonna adding their own streams, live streaming is fast becoming a preferred mode of social media consumption among fans. Soon, you will be able to picture “fans” glued to their videos watching how their favorite celebrities are doing live.

For PR professionals, live streaming can be a double-edged sword. It needs to be done carefully. Jumping on the bandwagon may get you immediate results, but without a sound strategy, you are exposing yourself to risks.  When things go awry, live streaming can be your worst nightmare.

Having said that, there are plenty of opportunities. Here are four that I predict will change the world of PR:

Live “social media only” events: Twitter was the closest you got to following an event live. Next you had YouTube, which is essentially a set of recordings. Live streaming adds a video angle that is current and now. In the hands of an expert video editor, it can be a window into a live event, catching the buzz and engaging the audience through your mobile device. It also offers the flexibility to hold small budget yet interesting events, streamed live over social media. This offers many possibilities for PR professionals, and allows them to engage an audience who can’t get enough of videos on small screens.

Behind the scenes: We all know that a launch event takes a lot of preparation, perspiration and perseverance. Does your audience or do your clients understand this? Live streaming allows you to do a behind the scenes video to highlight what a show it is going to be. Just like the Academy Awards Red Carpet, you can go behind the scenes to showcase the amount of preparation you and your sponsors have done. Imagine Apple doing a behind the scenes live streaming before the actual launch of its new product, and you can imagine the power of it.

Live Q&A: Live streaming allows you to do a live question and answer (Q&A) session with whomever you want. You do not have to invest in high-end video film production to enable this. All you need is the media to tune in through their social media channel. Engaging the media has never been so easy or effective. But be forewarned. You need to ensure that your interviewee is well prepared. There is no chance of retraction. And you can definitely imagine that some media will show the live streaming as it is.

Live media training: Geography is no longer a constraint. A live streaming session can help you conduct media training from wherever you are. Best of all, you can immediately update your training or conduct additional classes as needed without having to create, edit and post-edit a video.

Live streaming video is no magic bullet for preparation. In fact, I would suggest that it demands even more preparation. Since everything happens live, you have no opportunity to edit or to easily retract.

Live streaming does offer a new dimension for the PR professional to carry out their work. In the right hands, it can be a very powerful PR tool.