In my inaugural C&P blog post, fresh off the heels of hosting several YouTubers at an Orlando gaming and techie event called Otronicon at the Orlando Science Center, I’d like to talk about YouTube … you know, the third-highest ranking site on the Web, where more than 2 billion videos are viewed on a daily basis.
Our client EA Sports was a major sponsor of this year’s Otronicon and we were challenged to not only promote EA Sports’ involvement, but also help drive traffic and awareness of the event. And so, we turned to YouTube—where a number of EA Sports’ target demographic goes for news and entertainment. We hosted a group of seven regional YouTubers on the first night of the event. The result? Nearly 230,000 views of their resulting videos and additional reach through the YouTubers’ accounts on Facebook and Twitter … a great success for the event and for our client.
I think many publicists make a mistake when they try to pitch YouTubers. You can’t force content and you can’t expect a YouTuber to behave like a journalist.
Here are a few tips:
1. Know who you’re talking to. By now, I think many PR professionals have wised up and are getting to know the bloggers they reach out to. The same should be said for working with YouTubers. Don’t just reach out to iJustine because she has a bazillion views. Reach out to her because you know her channel … you’ve viewed her videos and it makes sense for you to pitch her.
2. YouTubers have friends. Lots of them. Make their friends your friends too. Let them bring their friends to the special event you may be hosting. Not only does this make for a more exciting video (watching a video of one person talking to themselves is usually not as interesting), but chances are, their friends may be YouTubers too. YouTubers consider themselves to be a community and you’ll often see YouTubers hanging out with each other.
3. If you hear of a YouTube Gathering in your area, go to it. These public gatherings of YouTubers are a great way to meet in-person and start relationships. Even better, if you are able to do so, offer your venue to host the next gathering.
4. If you’re working with a more “controversial” YouTuber on behalf of a family-friendly attraction, don’t be afraid of asking them to tone it down. However, you shouldn’t expect them to completely change their style … remember you are working with this YouTuber for a reason. And very likely, the reason they are so popular is because of the unique content they have.
5. Unless a YouTuber needs your assistance (you’re escorting or guiding them to special activities), do not hound them. Give them time to walk around and enjoy a place on their own. This makes for a more natural video.
Some YouTubers are so popular they have been elevated to celebrity status. If they require a fee to work with you, they should disclose that fact up front. Most of the time, a YouTuber simply needs the kind of basic support that you’d probably offer to a journalist (such as lodging, transportation etc.). Remember, you are asking them to cover you and (unlike a journalist) they don’t have an expense account.
I love YouTube, not just because there are so many entertaining people out there, but (from a PR standpoint) I can find out how many eyeballs have viewed a video. You can’t say the same for newspapers or magazines. Sure, The New York Times has a very impressive circulation of 950,000, but has each one of those subscribers read my story? On YouTube we know viewership and that is invaluable. Don’t be afraid of working with YouTubers!