Video: it’s not a serious PR tool is it..?

Everyone likes a good video, don’t they? I know I do.

In PR terms (check out my subtle segue from the potentially interesting topic of watching movies to the potentially duller topic of PR) there are differing opinions of the medium’s efficacy. The jury, to use an already exhausted metaphor, is still out.

Combined with the power of social media to attract an audience though, and in the right hands, video can be a useful addition to the PR practitioner’s toolkit.

One of the best examples of video and social media in action that I’ve seen in recent months comes courtesy of the Las Vegas based entrepreneur, internet marketer and force-of-nature that is Maren Kate Donovan, at http://www.escapingthe9to5.com/

Back in April (yes, it really has taken me that long to write this) Maren Kate posted a video on her site that took the form of an appeal to Herman Miller, the purveyor of fine office chairs and other related bits and pieces.

The appeal…? “I want Herman Miller to send me a several thousand dollar chair for free, in return I’ll blab about its greatness (assuming it is great) everywhere!” MK explains on her site.

The thing that caught my attention, and still has me thinking about what all this means, is that Herman Miller responded!

I contacted Maren Kate and asked for a bit more detail.

She told me: “I was hoping to get them to send me a chair and to see how long it took a major brand to get back to someone who ‘reached out’ to them via social media. So it was an experiment of types as well as an excuse for me to get rid of my old chair. The wider strategy: which is soon going to be a full-fledged video review site (name pending) is to get traffic by reviewing other people’s stuff for free, so you will get the benefits of having a site where lots of people go (ads, etc.) and you will get a deluge of free stuff because opposed to popular opinion companies are DYING for you to try out their stuff online.”

Herman Miller have said they’d like Maren Kate to review one of their new chairs later in the year (that’s autumn if you’re in the UK and fall if you’re in the US).

It’s not a strategy that would work for just anyone. Maren Kate has built up a huge following and not insignificant personal brand equity through years of hard work.

But it does point to the extent to which major corporations are willing to incorporate social media into their communications strategies and the potential results if people like me, in PR and communications, can help them find the right channels.