NOW IS THE TIME ENGAGE – Content Marketing From Home

WFH desk
WFH desk

NOW IS THE TIME TO ENGAGE - Content Marketing From Home

It’s been over a month. How are we doing? Worried, scared, fearing for how your business is going to weather this crisis? It’s a crazy time and fear and worry are acceptable. 

So how do you survive? How do you weather this unprecedented moment in history? There’s no easy answer to that question, though I’m sure you’ve received a ton of email from people trying to sell you on their ‘system’ for survival. That’s not what this is.

I want to talk about things you can and should be doing during this time. It’s not the end all be all or a magic pill, but, it will help strengthen your customer relationships and possibly gain you new business once we get back to ‘normal’, whatever that is.

Now’s the time to engage with your audience.

Content marketing focuses on building a relationship with your customers. Not so much selling them a product, but making them confident that your company is who they want to do business with. They’re not a number, they’re a part of your community. 

And if you haven’t been focusing on this aspect and creating an experience for your customers, now is the time. 

It may seem impossible to do this at home and without your team nearby, but it’s not. And in reality, it’s the perfect time to get started or expand your efforts. Do you remember when YouTube first began? Bad audio and lighting, cats everywhere, and no one knew what they were doing? Well, it’s that time now, but with more platforms, better technology and a bigger reach than we had in 2005/6. 

If you’ve ever wanted to try something new or create a new way of engaging, now is the time. People are hungry for content and the audience is captive. Now is the time to experiment with video, podcasting, user engagement, Tik Tok, or whatever has been in the back of your mind. If you have a creative team and they’ve been pushing to try some different platforms, now’s the time. Expectations and barriers to entry are low. Get it wrong, fail hard, laugh about it and figure it out along the way. And if it works, you have a new way to engage with your audience when this is all over. 

If it fails, blame the pandemic and move on. 

Audio Content

Podcasting is an easy answer here. There are many platforms and services available to help you get your podcast up and running in no time., which was recently bought out by Spotify, is the easiest by far and the cheapest. Creating a podcast with Anchor will automatically have it populate in Spotify to help you find an audience. They also have a new feature, Record with Friends, that will allow you to interview people remotely without them needing to do much heavy lifting. Other options are and Ringr, both have a small fee, but offer some enhanced options. 

Within the Anchor interface, you can also distribute to other podcasting platforms. And if you already have a podcast, just download the audio and upload it to your normal service. 

If you’re looking to edit, there are plenty of knowledgeable creatives in need of work, so you’ll be able to get help there. If you know how or want to learn Audacity is a freeware that while clunky works just as well as many of the pro options. 

Your podcast doesn’t have to be an hour-long introspective either. It can be short bits, about your business during this time, tips and tricks for your customers, positive community activity, interviews with local leaders, etc. Be creative and try something new or completely unrelated to your business. The goal is content and engagement. 

Another audio avenue is creating a skill for Amazon or Google. In today’s voice rich environment, a daily or weekly message from your company could go far in making an impact on your audience.

Video Content

image of camera set upThe options are limitless. You’re walking around with a portable TV station in your pocket. You can record videos for YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok…you get the picture. You can live stream to your existing followers while on your daily walk or whatever you’re doing to remain grounded during this time. 

If going live isn’t your thing, you can also record content with your phone. Today’s mobile apps give you the ability to shoot and edit from your phone and upload to your platform of choice. Adobe Rush and Premiere on mobile are free and fairly simple to use; iMovie has always been available for iPhone users. If editing on your phone isn’t ideal, DaVinci Resolve is a powerful free desktop editing suite that includes video, color grading, audio mixing, and compression. The main difference between the free and paid version ($300) is 4K exports and some effects. 

You can also use your computer to live interviews on Zoom, Google Hangouts, Go To Meeting, or whatever conferencing software you like. Using OBS, live streaming freeware, you can send the interview out live from your desktop or any other video content, with more control than just using your phone. 

Video can be a bit tricky and labor-intensive, reach out to local creatives for help with editing or getting your stream/webinar/video class up and running. 

Photo and Graphic Content

photo of bts photo shootYour phone shines again here. Most cell phones have a decent camera and given the current situation, decent will do. Do some research on basic shot composition and you’ll find that you can take and frame some decent photos. Your workstation, projects around the house, creating art from everyday objects, your neighborhood or the dog park all make great subjects and ways to engage with your audience. Photoshop has a free phone app for photo editing. There’s also SnapSeed and Pixlr. You can use Canva to create some cool designs with your images to make your post stand out. I’ll add, here again, there are tons of creatives looking for work. So if the editing and design aspect seems too much, reach out and I’m certain you can find help. 

Written Content

Photo of booksWriting or creating a blog is the first choice here but not everyone is a writer. Other forms of written content can be a weekly “Top 5/10” list. Things of interest you’ve found online, things about your industry, mindfulness tips, reviews, etc. 

Using your email list and Facebook following is a great way to engage followers with long-form content that can also further educate them. Using links, charts and graphs, and other research to help them understand new topics.

Putting It All Together

We’ve looked at the tech side, the how-to of creating content at home. But now, what do you create? An old phrase is ‘Content is King’ and now, more than ever, it’s ringing true. You need content to help keep you engaged and we’ve got some ideas for you.

  • Use video to tell different stories. Introduce us to your employees by interviewing them and letting your audience get to know them and their stories. If you have an older, storied business, tell its history. This could be a great podcast as well.


  • Do you have current customers that would be willing to do a testimonial? Have them record them on their phones or a zoom call. Then edit it together. Ask them what they miss about being able to visit your business or what it means to the community.


  • Organize a Google Hangout or Zoom panel discussion on local topics. It could have nothing to do with your business, but be beneficial to your community. Start a talk show with members of your community.


  • Create an online video course with webinar software or teach others about aspects of your industry with companies like LessonAlive. And don’t feel bad charging. If your business is public speaking, speak to the public, remotely.


  • Create trivia nights with CrownPurr and encourage online engagement. It could be a fundraiser for local non-profits or just a fun thing for your community of followers.


  • Create how-to videos related to your industry. If you’re a restaurant, do cooking demonstrations and give up some of your secrets. Remember, most people patronize companies out of convenience. They could probably figure out how to do what you offer or make what you sell if they really wanted to, but they don’t. So when this is over, they will still come to your business. Explain QuickBooks if you’re an accountant. Show how to clear a drain if you’re a plumber. How to cut your bangs if you’re a hairdresser. They will come back to you but appreciate the help now.


  • If you’ve done content marketing in the past or already have a podcast or some sort of media you already put out, repurpose it. Make a 2020 or pandemic version of that 10 ten list from 2016. Use Headliner to chunk up old podcasts and create Instagram and Facebook content out of it.


  • If you’re still open and offer curbside service, take photos of all of your products. You can even hire a photographer, being mindful of social distancing, to help. Use them to beef up your website and facebook post as well how ever your customers are ordering from you.
  • If you need supplemental help in the process – images for your post, music for your videos or podcasts, writers for your posts, reach out to your local creatives. They need the money and would love the work. In the end, you’ll have a new relationship with local talent and your end product will be more authentic.  

This list isn’t complete, not even close. It is some of the questions that have come across our inbox and calls we’ve received. There are plenty of other ways to engage your audience and help you get through these trying times. Think of it as a product test. Have fun and test out new platforms and ways of connecting and engaging. Hopefully something will stick and when things get back to normal, you’ll have learned something that can help your business.

Whatever you choose to do, do something. Now is most certainly the time. It won’t be easy and it won’t be pretty, but nothing is in the beginning. If the tech side has you worried, reach out. Again, there are people and companies (like us!) who do this as our business. Figuring out how to get your content out there isn’t difficult with the right team or consultants helping out. But you need the content first. 

Go get creating.

Authenticity and Content Creation

Screen shot from podcast with dan kimbrough discussing authenticity





Ask anyone in business what’s one of the best ways to engage and grow relationships with potential clients and they’ll tell you through your content. We’re not talking advertising, we mean consistent authentic content about you and your business. Showing people what separates you and why they should trust you. Owner Dan Kimbrough recently moved from behind the board to in front of the mic on the Wilkes-Barre Connect Podcast and discussed why authenticity matters in your content amongst other topics.

Creating Authentic Content While Running a Business

The problem is, how do you create and continually publish content while running and maintaining your business? Can you afford to hire a full-time content creator to create and publish all of this content? Probably not if you’re a small to medium-size business.

That’s where we come in. We come to you and spend a few hours a week documenting you and your process and help create authentic and branded content to engage your audience. All you have to do is run your business and we’ll help to tell your story.

Give us a free test drive and see if we can’t help ease your content woes.

Instagram Announces IGTV

Instagram TV announcement

Instagram is making waves again, this time with Instagram TV or IGTV. Instagram announced a new way for visual content creators and storytellers to share content. Up to an hours worth of it. IGTV announcement

Who Cares About IGTV?

Video content creators. Those who’ve built their audience and platform on Instagram now have a way to keep them on Instagram. If you are a video creator, you can always tease a minute of your longer, polished content or break it up in stories/the grid for your followers, but what lacked was the ability to place the entire video natively in Instagram. This meant updating the bio with a new link to YouTube or wherever the longer video lived, every time you made a video. Or, if you had enough followers, using the swipe option in stories to lead them to an external link. Still leaving the app.

Now your audience can natively watch your content, in the app. The need to leave your content, click out to your bio, click the link, open a new app, and then click play is gone. That process is annoying and users don’t like annoying.

What Does it All Mean?

It’s very early for IGTV, but I think this is going to be a game changer. I’ve written before about video and it’s dominance in our world, but how and where we consume it is what is ever evolving. Instagram has upwards of 600 million users and 59% of them are in the 18-29 demo. With IGTV, you can now watch branded (or unbranded as everyone can create a channel) content, in app, from the people and companies you engage with the most. This is huge For visual content creators. I predict it will change video and social media usage. Everyone from your local TV station to you favorite Instagram celebrity will have another, native way to reach.

Again, I’m talking about those who’s audience base comes from Instagram, not YouTubers or Facebook. If YouTube is your home base, this won’t matter to you today. If Facebook is how you reach your audience, you’re good. But, if Instagram has been your bread and butter, and you’ve had to maintain a secondary platform solely to showcase your full content, it’s time to rejoice!

Side Note

One of the biggest hurdles for IGTV creators will be the vertical format. We discussed vertical vs. horizontal video a while back and it seems that vertical video is now firmly planted in the visual world. You should be sharing content on multiple platforms, make sure you frame accordingly if you want to dive into IGTV.

YouTube VidCon News

Dark Theme

YouTube has been the old standby for video sharing and hosting since it’s inception. Similar companies, specifically Vimeo, have made a small dent, but YouTube reigns supreme. They are the video platform for everyone, Vimeo is really tailored towards filmmakers and other professional creatives.

Some of the major problems YouTube has for distribution is that it’s cluttered and not really mobile friendly. It looks like Google has heard these complaints and a new YouTube experience is coming.

Our recent post discussed vertical/square video vs horizontal and that in the end, it depended on where the video will be displayed. Looks like YouTube has entered the mobile era and will now adjust it’s player so that vertical and square videos can be played back and displayed as they were shot.

Via YouTube
Via YouTube

It looks like they’ve also decided to clean the desktop space. The new layout is less ‘boxy’ and flows easier. They’ve made the account drop-down actually useful and even offer a dark theme option for viewing (which, personally, looks much better). 

Other updates from yesterday’s conference include new ways to share within the YouTube App, and a new VR experience dubbed ‘VR180’. VR180 will be an interesting development. The idea is human vision is 180°, we can see what’s in front of us, so let’s create and be able to view video in the same manner. Some 360°/VR cameras already have the option of shooting with one or two of their lenses. Being able to only view the 180° that are naturally in front of us may make the VR experience and storytelling a little easier. They’re working in some specific VR180 cameras, which seems odd, but maybe the player and headsets can’t recognize the metadata from a 360° shooting in only 180°? Either way, it’ll be an intriguing development for the VR space.

360 Camera Review – Ricoh Theta S vs Samsung Gear 360 (2016)

Recently, I got a chance to play with the Samsung Gear 360 thanks to a Streetview loan from Google. I’ve had the Ricoh Theta S for a while and love it. The only drawback is that it only shoots 1920×1080 video, which doesn’t look good with 360 videos. The Samsung Gear 360 shoots 4k, so I thought it would be a better camera.

It was not.

In any way, shape or form.

Ok, it shoots 4k, that’s the only way, shape or form.

Form factor is horrible because it’s a ball and hard to hold and use. Luckily, this has been fixed for the 2017 version. The Gear 360 app is horrible. Terrible. Atrocious. It takes forever to stitch photos and video. If you attempt to do it all from the phone, it actually won’t give you a 4k video, meaning you need a desktop solution. If you’re a Mac user, just go cry yourself a river, because most of the desktop (and mobile solutions) are garbage.

The dual independent lenses on the Gear 360 create 2 stitch points, which given its form factor, really make shooting anything within 6 feet of the camera difficult. Also, because they act independently, you get different exposure on each one depending on the lighting.

With the Ricoh Theta S, if you shoot a picture with the app, when it captures, it automatically stitches and saves to your phone. It takes maybe 2-3 seconds, whereas the Gear takes upwards of 10 seconds and doesn’t stitch or save to the phone. The Ricoh app saves what you shot, how you shot it, to your phone and makes mobile uploads easy.

Instead of 2 independent lenses, the dual lenses on the Ricoh Theta S act as one and give you even lighting throughout the image. Also, because it’s slimmer than the Gear 360, its stitching is minimal and allows for things to be closer to the camera and not get lost.

All in all, I was thrilled to send back the Gear 360 because I couldn’t really do anything with it. I have an Android phone, but because I’m a Mac user, I couldn’t really get much out of the camera. The process of getting this 360 review stitched, to a Mac, edited and then to YouTube took about 8 hours of copying, stitching, copying, formatting…you get the picture. The only plus I give the Gear is it shoots 4k, outside of that, the camera isn’t worth it. I’ll stick with my Ricoh.

Both companies have new versions coming out in 2017. The Gear 360 is already out and you can see where they’ve changed the form factor to make it easier to hold and stand up. Many newer 360 cameras have adopted this as well, so at least Samsung learned there. The Gear 360 app that I used before I sent the camera back to Google was the updated one that works with the Gear 360 2017, so that’s not very promising at all.

Ricoh’s 2017 model, I spoke with them at NAB this year, is supposed to have 4k video or better and offer spatial audio. Given the growing amount of contenders prosumer in the 360 camera market( GoPro and YI Technology, specifically), Ricoh may need to do more than that to stay in this race. Give the price point, ease of use, app support, and quality, as of now, the Ricoh Theta S is still my favorite, but we’ll see what the rest of 2017 holds.

Vertical vs Horizontal and Square Video

When it comes to shooting mobile or online video, the easiest way to piss of a videographer is to shoot something vertical. I often grab friends phones and “fix” the way they are shooting. For a long while, it was a big pet peeve.

But, as with all things today, times have changed. By that, I mean WHERE we consume media has changed. If you own a smartphone (more than 80% of you do) then you’ve probably watched a video on it. This is where the problem occurs. YouTube, Vimeo, and other video hosting sites still favor widescreen formats and users tend to rotate their phones when on those sites.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and most other social networking sites, though, tend to favor the profile or vertical positioning.

Vertical Video POV from Ogilvy & Mather

Studies show that we spend upwards of 90% of our time with our phones in the vertical orientation. Because we use these sites vertically, consumers have gotten used viewing information in the manner. Yes, you can upload widescreen video to these sites, but on mobile, they take up less screen real estate. This means that when presented, consumers tend to scroll by it. Either because it doesn’t fill the screen or they don’t want to have to turn their phones.

The answer? Shoot for the edit. It’s an old fundamental for videographers and filmmakers; know what the end product is supposed to look like and how it will be distributed and shoot for that. If your video is getting posted on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and so on, shoot it horizontal and leave room to crop for mobile. This way you can maximize all screens. If it’s only going on mobile heavy sites, shoot vertical. This goes for cell phones and video cameras. Most of us are using DSLR’s and shooting vertical is quite simple. This way you can upload true HD quality video to Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook if you want.

Like I said, times are changing. This proves though, yet again, that while devices, consumption, and tech may change, knowing the fundamental basics of media production is always the best solution. If you want some guidance on best sizes and practices for mobile content, check these out:

Video Marketing – The Power of Social Media and Mobile Devices

Change is on the horizon.

Regardless of where you stand on the 2nd Amendment and the gun issue in America something amazing just happened in the House of Representatives.

Democrats decided there was going to be a sit-in in the House of Representatives in response to the GOP not allowing a vote on gun reform. When Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) gave his time at the podium to the Democratic Whip, Rep. Steny Hoyer, (D-Md.), the House went to recess. Given that the majority in the House is Republican and the Speaker of the House, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), run/govern all actions in the House, this meant that proceedings for the day were done. The cameras in the House that are seen on C-SPAN and elsewhere are owned and operated by the House itself. What you see a feed being sent to C-SPAN. Because of the recess, the feed was cut and supposedly no one would witness the sit-in.

“What we show on C-SPAN is the feed from the House. It is the House’s video, their feed, their audio, their camera angles. It’s the House recording studios that operates the cameras under the control of House majority leadership,” C-SPAN spokesman Howard Mortman said in an interview. Mortman said they were not given warning that the House would be recessed or the feed cut off.”

When the government (at least part of it) attempted to keep something off the airwaves, a cable network picked up a live feed from inside the event and began broadcasting it.

But what happened next, regardless of the outcome or if a vote ever happens, is the real story. Scott Peters, Rep. (D-Calif.) and Beto O’Rourke Rep. (D-Tx.) began to live stream the sit in on Periscope and Facebook Live, respectively.

This allowed C-SPAN to pick up their live feeds and continue the broadcast of the sit-in. As the day went on, CNN and MSNBC followed suit.

Let that sink in if you don’t realize the importance. When the government (at least part of it) attempted to keep something off the airwaves, a cable network picked up a live feed from inside the event and began broadcasting it.

This is big. Not just because the government is involved, but because C-SPAN has just shown the true power of social media and mobile devices.You can broadcast your experiences and thoughts to any who’s willing to listen. Yes, we’ve had social media, blogs and so on for a while, but we’re talking video. No longer is what you’re seeing and hearing delayed or filtered through the user, it’s the live video as it happens without the needs of major distribution. And mainstream media is finally paying attentions.
The structure and business of the media world has already been changing quietly because of social media. It puts a lot of power in the hands of consumers and that scares executives. It disrupts financial and power structures that have existed for decades. You can say what you will about social media, the internet, people being glued to their phones and so on, but a big change is coming because of it. When it comes to media, what we consume and how we consume it will look completely different in the next 5-10 years (being generous).

Think of it this way, we’re all walking around with the technology to transmit live broadcast from anywhere and receive them from anywhere as well. This will take the notion of hyperlocal broadcasting to a whole new level. Joe down the street can do a daily broadcast with officials in the community at his produce stand. And his Facebook followers will be able to ask questions in real time to get answers. No TV studio, no fitting in between programming, no worrying about paying for airtime. Now everyone with a phone is not a trained reporter or journalist and their sources for information may be sketchy at best…but who’s going to fault them? And it’s not like we don’t turn on cable news now to see wall to wall coverage of an event only to find out what they reported at 9am was wrong and at noon they have it right.

Mainstream media will have to adapt and find ways to incorporate live streaming or it will fall behind. We can now experience the world in real-time from real people. As a recent article by Tech Crunch noted – This is the end of the Information Age and the birth of the Experience Age.

Video Marketing – The Revolution Will Be Experienced

 Summer time was the when I was a kid

Not because school was out, though it helped, but because I got to roam free with my friends. Growing up in a fairly large city with a decent sized population meant we had a lot of schools…a lot. This meant that my friends from the neighborhood and I weren’t at the same school. We hung out after school, but it wasn’t the same.

Then summer time…where we could run amuck together and share in each other’s experiences. That was the key… sharing in the experience. Telling someone about the fun you had is one thing… but sharing the experience with them is another.

Understanding Sharing

Back in 2010, Russell Davies broke sharing down into three categories – sharing goods, sharing services, and sharing information. While goods and services tend to exist in the physical world, information made the jump to the digital world. What started as music files and peer to peer messages has blossomed into the crazy world of social media where we, literally, deal and trade in information on a daily basis. Why?

It’s just human nature. It’s how communities grow. If we go back to Psych 101 and look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, sharing is what we do. By sharing… we can move our community and selves higher. Goods and services cover the bottom three. Sharing food and shelter has been evident throughout all of history. As we feel more secure and safe, we share more.

If we place information at the esteem level, we can see that the idea that what we share online helps shows the world who we are. That helps to build our esteem and we can see how sharing is tied into who we are.

So what about experiences?

Creativity, spontaneity, morality… until late we could only share information about these things… but the world has changed. Social media has changed and it has changed how we share. No longer do I have to tell you how my trip went, I can show by posting to Facebook and Instagram. I can live tweet my responses to a show that I’m watching and everyone can follow or talk back, even if they aren’t in the same time zone. We can all share in other experiences… nearly. It’s still really just information, texts, pictures, emoticons, about someone’s experience.

Until now. There are two very big changes taking over. Virtual Reality and Live (reality?). Yeah…live tweeting is live, but it’s only text. It’s still detached and only after I’ve synthesized my thoughts and written something. But Snapchat, Blab, Periscope and Facebook can give us real-time experiences.While you are immersed in something, I can experience it along with you. Imagine walking through a haunted house with Facebook live on. Even though I’m not there, when that clown pops out, I’ll probably still jump. (partially because clowns are just creepy!). The viewer gets unfiltered access to your experiences.

Want proof, look at Snapchat and Facebook

And while Facebook and Snapchat are probably the polar ends age wise of users, grandma can now be live at Megan’s birthday party or see her graduate. Yeah, older audiences will eat this alive as well.

Virtual Reality or 360 videos and photos are now popping up as well and give you the ability to see the world around the shooter. No longer just the shooter’s perspective, but also what’s happening around them. Safari, train rides, concerts, sky diving… you name it and we can insert ourselves into it. And share in the experience.

So how does this all help your business?

This means it’s time for you to make a shift. It’s time for you to start engaging and interacting with your clients. It’s time for you to build a relationship based on experiences with your audience. Not for sales, but for reputation, brand recognition and top of mind placement. You need to shift from sharing information to sharing experiences. Tech Crunch has a great piece on the dawn of the sharing age.

What do I mean? Are you Coke or Pepsi? Miller or Bud? (Star Wars or Star Trek???) Major brands like Coke and Pepsi don’t advertise to sway people…you’re one or the other. It’s for brand reputation and recognition. They already know you drink Coke. The formula isn’t changing, they aren’t adding a new product, there’s nothing to advertise. But they do it, because it makes Coke drinkers feel good about their choice. It helps to keep them top of mind, so when they get thirsty it’s not even a choice, it’s a reflex.

This is what sharing your experiences can do for your company, especially small businesses. What may seem like the mundane to you, helps to build a connection with clients and helps make new ones. Get a new shipment of something you sell, Snapchat opening it. If you create the products in-house, do it on Facebook Live. Going to a conference based on your industry, Snapchat or Periscope your time there so your clients can see that you really know your stuff.

Don’t feel that live experiences are the only way, Instagram and Facebook are still great places to post video that show your companies personality. But the key is to show. To stay competitive and stand out among the competition, SHOW clients who you are.

The silly ritual the kitchen staff has when opening restaurant.
The process of screen printing a shirt.
How you freehand a tattoo design
A time-lapse of setting up your venue for a wedding.
A 360 image of your banquet hall.

Whatever it is you do, show us. Bring viewers in as part of the experience and use that as a way to build trust and a relationship. You have a website that has ‘Information, Goods and Services’, don’t just use your social media to replicating it. Use your social media to also be social, tell stories and share experiences.

On Location: Kurlancheek Home Furnishings

They say it’s not what you know, but who you know.

I never really liked that phrase. It implies that being skilled is less important than just running into the right people. What happens when the right people realize you’re the wrong person for the job? Or if who you know, knows you know nothing… ya know?

Yeah… no one wins.

I like to think of it more as what you know AND who you know leads to opportunities. If you’re really good at what you do and people know this about you, you’ll find opportunities for success. Of course, that also means letting the people you know, know what you know. (ok, I promise I’m done…but it was fun)

That’s how Kurlancheek Home Furnishings became a client. I was out one night shooting a concert and ran into a friend who was looking for someone to produce a few new commercials for Kurlancheek. We talked for a bit and about a month later (thanks to the first snowfall of the season) we were shooting.

They had recently bought air time with Comcast and the first production company they spoke with wanted to do the typical ‘local small business’ commercial. A couple of pans of the inside of the store, show one or two products, fade to a white screen with the address and phone number and call it a day. Kurlancheek wanted something a little more interesting and less generic. This is one of the biggest issues with local commercials, they are usually generic and follow the same template.

They wanted to highlight a few key points – big city items at a reasonable price, unique reclaimed pieces and that they could custom design pieces. After a short meeting, we had an outline for what the final commercial campaign would look like. The idea was we’d do 3 commercials that start and end the same. The ‘nosey neighbor’ peeping out to see furniture being delivered across the street. She’d head out to ask about how expensive it was and what fancy place it came from, only to find out they came from Kurlancheek Home Furnishings and were quite affordable.

This style allowed us to highlight a few pieces, their delivery service, and interior design. Across the three versions, get all the key points across. While it took a little longer than the cookie cutter ‘local commercial’, the result was something they were much happier with. Which is the way it should be.  If you’re going to pay to have production work done, it should be done right.

5 Questions Local Business Need to Ask About Online Marketing Videos (and Not Lose Money)

“How do I succeed online?”
“How do I get my name out there?”
“What does a small business need to know about video?”
“How do I get started?”


Every year we hear a lot of the pain of local marketing while at NEPA BlogCon, the first, one and only social media and blogging conference in PA. Video, podcasts, production as a whole have come up each year, Getting Started with YouTube was even a presentation last year.

Park MultiMedia is proud to have not only attended NEPA BlogCon from year one but to record all sessions on video for anyone to reference online. This year Park Multimedia will also be on hand after the sessions for online video marketing advice at the NEPA BlogCon Expo Hall (new this year!)  To get ready for the expo hall – we’re putting Park Multimedia’s own Dan Kimbrough on the hot seat with some popular local marketing questions. If you don’t know the answer to these questions, you better listen up!

1.Hi Dan! Number one question, can I use my iPhone to shoot my video?

Can you, yes! Should you, well that depends on the goal of the video.

Most modern cell phones (past 2-3 years) can shoot in HD resolution. This will give you the same pixel quality as a professional camera. The difference being that professional cameras have bigger lenses, a better zoom and focus control and handle light better.

If the video is supposed to be fun, quirky, ‘day of the life’ or behind the scenes focused, sure! Grab your phone (turn it sideways!) and shoot away. YouTube, Instagram and many other sites have made us accustomed to seeing this kind of video. While not always professional quality, it’s a great way to connect with clients and give your business a personality to set it apart from others. They are like little home videos we share with the world.

If you want a professional video, that has all the bells and whistles that come with it being ‘professional’, you should hire someone. Having a camera (on your phone or otherwise) doesn’t make you a professional. I have golf clubs, but Tiger Woods I am not! Often times as business owners we want to save a few dollars here and there, but when it comes to your image…hire a pro.

 2. How do I prep for a video shoot? Both as a shooter and the talent? Anything to do when prepping in PA?

Preparation is the single most important thing you can do to make a shoot go well. Whether you are the shooter or the talent, you need to make sure you have done your homework and are thoroughly prepared the day of your shoot

Shooter – The first step for any shoot is to make sure all your equipment is ready and what you need is packed. Batteries charged, cameras working, tripod, lights and microphones are in working order. Make a checklist so that you always know you have what you’ll need on hand.

Another good idea is to always have a backup location ready. The summer weather in PA can be pretty crazy. Wet one minute, hot another…just a crazy American summer. If you plan to shoot outdoors, have an indoor backup. It’ll save you time, talent and equipment.

Speaking of equipment – always use a tripod or some sort of camera support, always. Trained professionals still have some sort of support for the camera, always. Shooting handheld is difficult, don’t ruin your shoot trying to stand perfectly still.

Also, when it comes to equipment, keep it simple. Get a tripod or support, some sort of microphone, cheap lights and a camera. Practice with what you can afford and get good with it. If money comes pouring in, buy better. But for now, just get shooting.

Talent – Know what you’re doing. If it’s an interview, research the subject. Know how to pronounce their name. Already know the simple questions (where are they from, how they got started, etc.) so you can get to meatier ones. Talk with the shooter, know what the piece is and where it’s going. Is it just for a sound bite? Will you be on camera? How will the interview be used? The more you know beforehand, the better ‘talent’ you will be.

Also, and this may sound weird, always have a mirror or compact. Male or female, keep one handy. As a seasoned producer, I usually have one in my gear bag, but if you’re working with a newbie, they may not. You want to look your best, the shooter just wants to get the footage shot. You’d hate to start and realize BBQ sauce from lunch is hiding on your face. The shooter may not even notice with all they are setting up, so it’s on you to make you look good.

3. What’s the best format of video to shoot in?

The short answer – the same format that the editing software or the destination prefers. The problem is that not all cameras allow you to decide what format you shoot in.

If you’re working with an editor, ask them before you start shooting. While they can probably work with whatever you give them, or let you know specifically what they can’t use, it’s better to ask first.

If you’re editing on your own and you can’t change the format or match what you’re editing software needs, video conversion is your answer. Conversion allows you to change from one format to another. For most consumer cameras, MPEG Streamclip works well. It’s pretty straightforward in allowing you to pick your a format, change the size, how big the file is and other features. What’s also great…it’s free. I would suggest exporting as an MPEG-4 (see below).  

4. VCR’s are dead, right? If I’m working with a video export tool or a videographer, what type of format should I request for my final format? What’s the most useful format?

Unless you still have the entire Disney Vault on VHS, VCR’s have pretty much gone the way of the dinosaur. The most versatile format of video, right now (who knows how long anything will stay relevant) is probably MPEG-4 (.mp4).

Without  getting too technical, if you’re using a video export tool look for H.264 with a .mp4 extension. Just about all computers will recognize this with their default video player. On Windows it’s Movie Maker and a Mac it’s Quicktime. Also, this type of video works well with uploading to YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook and other online video websites.

If you’re getting video back from a videographer or editor, still go with the .mp4 as a digital file. I would also suggest getting the files on a DVD-ROM (not playable, but as data) as a physical backup. You never know when a computer or hard drive will reach the end of the road and this way you have your video safe, in a physical format.

I live in NEPA – the land where  the sun never shines, how do I make my shoot look good?

Actually, the lack of sun works in our favor. One of the biggest tells between professional and amateur video is the lighting. Too dark, too light, too many shadows are all signs that a professional wasn’t consulted.

If you’re shooting outside, overcast is ideal if you don’t have lights or a way to diffuse the bright sun. Overcast minimizes shadows and bright spots in your video and gives a nice even look. You never want to shoot too dark or bright as it’s hard to correct, so our cloudy days make for great shooting. If it is too bright, find some shade under under the abundance of PA trees or use a building to block the sun.

Other things to consider when shooting outside include paying attention to surrounding noises. You want to make sure you can hear your talent and not the cars behind them. Also, objects in the background. Parks make a great setting, just make sure you don’t have trees growing out of your talent’s head. The same goes for urban/city setting. Power lines going in and out of your talents ears can be distractingly funny.

Did we answer your video marketing question? Hopefully not! We hope to see you (yes, you!) at the conference this September 12th in Stroudsburg.