Every 2-3 years, I shift my professional focus. This time, I’m moving from PR to social video production and distribution.
by JERRY SILFWER aka Doctor Spin
In my professional life, I like to find an important idea and convey it. Typically after 2-3 years, I’m usually proven right or wrong — and it’s time to move on. Onto to the next thing. And now it’s that time again.
Now, I feel that the next thing for me to focus on is social video. I believe that most businesses will communicate with their publics on a regular basis using video within 2-3 years from now. And this goes for both B2C and B2B.
But great communication through video is an art form; it’s not like putting up a landing page or sending out a press release. It requires an aptitude for corporate visual storytelling paired with lean production processes and social media distribution skills. It will require teamwork.
If I’m serious about helping companies improve their video communication, then I’ll have to make an actual career change — at 38.
A Brief History of Spin
I made a short list of those core ideas I’ve been pushing for:
2006-2007: PR must go digital to survive
2008-2009: Digital first, social media naturals
2010-2012: Social media intelligence, datadriven marketing
2013-2014: Influencer marketing, digital transformation
2015-2017: Inbound marketing, priming/framing
2006-2007 — In the beginning of my PR career at Spotlight PR, I held on to a strong belief that the PR toolbox is much more powerful than just pitching news stories to journalists. Don’t get me wrong, I love publicity, but surprisingly few were talking about building direct online relationships in the PR industry. Still, most of my rants went unnoticed here at my blog, Doctor Spin.
2008-2009 — At Springtime PR, I started to get positive traction for my ideas on digital first and social media naturals and I was made senior advisor and head of a new business area before turning 30. A big “help” came from PR influencers Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge who in 2009 published Putting the Public Back into Public Relations which strengthened basically all of the arguments I had been making.
2010-2012 — As I felt that people were catching on to the idea of direct communication with online publics, there was a huge problem: Most online corporate communication was still poorly executed. I was heavily inspired by a colleague, Göran Thorstenson, who often spoke about the importance of utilizing all these digital channels to listen. In 2010, I moved to New York and joined a startup to build a datadriven “listening” agency, Whispr Group.
2013-2014 — Back in Stockholm, I went freelance with Spin Factory to assist companies with two things; when it came to PR, I focused on influencer marketing strategies in the post-blogger era (inspired by Gary Vaynerchuck), and when it came to overall communications I helped companies gear up for their digital transformation journeys.
2015-2017 — In 2015, I re-discovered Kevin Kelly’s article from 2008, 1,000 True Fans. I wanted to re-orient the focus of communication and marketing to support an inbound mindset and work towards helping companies to build their own long-term audiences by priming and framing. Then, Robert Cialdini’s first new book in 30 years, Pre-Suasion, came out in 2017 and sort of ended this era for me.
So, basically, it’s time to start focusing on the next thing.
Why ‘Social Video’ is My Next Thing
If I could name one area where I hope to see corporate communication and marketing improve the most in the coming years, the answer is simple:
Why do I find this to be so fascinating?
- Video is a fascinating and demanding form of communication.
- Few brands are doing online video well.
- Most brands would do better if they used video more, not less.
- Traditional video production is expensive.
- Online influencers are literally using video to kick everyone’s ass right now.
- Most brands don’t have good enough content to leverage programmatic technology.
- Social networks are starving for more quality video content.
- News stories will be all about online video broadcasting, too.
- Television sets will integrate with the internet seamlessly.
- Brand audiences crave more moving images, not less.
And I’m not just talking about commercials (“Hey, buy me!”). I’m mostly talking about editorial videos. Informational videos. Educational videos. Inspirational videos. Thought-provoking videos. Entertaining videos. Mind-changing videos.
I’m talking videos for internal communications, investor relations, content marketing, crisis communications, community management, media relations, public affairs, and lobbying.
Could this be an exciting journey to take? Damn, I think so.
Assembling a Social Video Agency in Stockholm
Today, I’m a freelancer. I love my current lifestyle, but planning, producing, and distributing videos will require teamwork. It will require finding people with a very specific set of skills:
What if we could assemble a Scandinavian agency of creative filmmakers, digital storytellers, and programmatic distribution experts?
Envision a ‘social video’ agency’ with flat fees for both creating and distributing social video — within budgets accessible for most B2C/B2B brands. I think it could work!
So, that’s what will happen this fall. I’m abandoning my current PR job to become a social video producer instead1. It’s too soon to disclose any details about the emerging agency, but we’ll get there soon.
Will this turn out to be a wise decision? Well, I wish I knew. But I’m hedging my bet: If I’m wrong and this goes to hell in a handbasket — at least I’d be having lots of fun in the process.
Is this the end of my career in PR, I wonder.
Well, I wouldn’t call the time of death just yet. I will surely still craft social media strategies, talk about corporate persuasion, and write PR-copy for various brands. At this point, PR is in my DNA. And something tells me I haven’t pitched a journalist for the last time, either.
- Feels only fitting to do so a few months before losing my title “the most influential digital PR person in Sweden,” ha!