How to make highly creative, low-cost video content

Video can be the main difference between a good campaign and a WOW campaign, with 64% of consumers more likely to buy a product after watching a video about it. However, it’s a common misconception that including video content in your PR and marketing campaigns requires big bucks.

We’d be lying if we said we could create a Scorcese-esque, full bells-and-whistles movie for less than a week’s shop at Aldi, but the truth is that with the right mix of creativity and know-how, video content can easily be done on the cheap.

The cleverest videos stick to three main rules: draw the viewer in, keep them engaged, and leave them wanting more. Here, we reveal a few of the top PRs’ best-kept secrets to achieve knockout video content without loosening the purse strings.

Keep it short

It sounds obvious, but remember that when it comes to video content, the shorter the better. Consumers’ attention spans are short, so you need to get your message across in less than two minutes, or one in an ideal world. This is useful to remember when trying to resist the temptation to record masses of footage.

Use fewer locations

When planning your video content, it’s easy to get carried away with storylines and settings, but it’s worth taking a step back to think about how you might be able to create the same effect with fewer locations. Think to yourself: “Is that scene really necessary for the story? How could it work without it?”

Get by with a little help from your friends

If there’s one thing that can quickly bump up the cost of your video content, it’s hiring actors. Effective ways to get around this are to use your friends, brave colleagues, or perhaps even opinions from members of the public (just make sure you get their consent to use the footage before they leave your sight). Or sometimes, it just might be possible to get your message across without any humans at all:

Go back to basics

A lot of the most popular content on YouTube is filmed out and about on mobile phones or camcorders, so why not take note and adopt a spontaneous approach, like this short and sweet video by Danio yoghurt with out-and-about prankster Arron Crascall:

Never underestimate the power of B-roll

If you’re hosting an event and it’s slightly out of the budget to hire an editor, it can still be very valuable to capture raw footage, which can be supplied to media houses as ‘B-roll’ footage. They can use this to put together their own edit (which some media prefer to do anyway) and you also have the footage for yourself should you wish to use it at a later date. Bingo.


Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best, like this one from an LED lighting manufacturer:

To illustrate the point that 90% of the energy emitted by competitor incandescent bulbs comes out as heat, CREE made this very straightforward, yet heartbreaking video in which one chocolate bunny sadly melts into oblivion, while the one under the LED light stands tall.

One angle, one camera, one location, two chocolate bunnies. Genius.

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Weekly social scoop

The latest news from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, just in case you missed it…
 Weekly social scoop
 #1 Twitter to ramp up its ecommerce drive

By TechWorld

  • The new feature will allow users to highlight relevant products and places to create an easy way to buy products
  • Celebrities and brands will also be able to build these pages

 #2 Twitter to launch ‘Project Lightening’ to track live events

By TechWorld

  • Project Lightening will make it easier for users to find content relating to specific live events
  • Can be used to follow sports events, concerts or major news events
  • Other websites will be able to embed content into their pages, meaning users don’t even need to be using the Twitter app to view the information

#3 Facebook will let people without an account use its Messenger service

By The Independent

  • Following the split of the service into its own app last year Facebook will now ‘unbundle’ the Messenger service from Facebook completely
  • It allows non-members to use the service and will look to build on the 700 million users already using Messenger
  • Users can sign up with just their name, phone number and photo

#4 Facial recognition from Facebook will work even on obscured faces

By The Independent

  • Facebook will be able to identify people from just their hairstyles, body type and posture
  • The algorithm allows the tool to learn what people look like over time to identify them quickly
  • Currently the algorithm has an 83% accuracy rate

#5 New Snapchat-esque filters added to Facebook photos

By The Verge

  • Facebook users can now add text, filters and stickers to their photos
  • A new button has been added to the lower left-hand corner of photos and will house all of the new photo-editing tools
  • All options are available to iPhone users, however, Android users will have a little longer to wait for the full range of updates

#6 Instagram’s CEO, Kevin Systrom, discusses its growing influence in creative industries

By Financial Times

  • Systrom claims “Instagram is probably monetising more quickly than any other social network”
  • He discusses the escape from fundraising and the early demand for advertising
  • Instagram currently has 300 million active monthly users, with average users spending 21 minutes per day logged onto the app
  • He describes the app as a “’visual pulse of the world’, a ‘history of the world’ and a ‘visual walkie-talkie’ to communicate with friends”

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onechocolate loves… the view from France

Our French office selected this week’s round-up of inspiring PR and digital marketing campaigns, smart new tech and cool events…

#1 Google and Levi’s are teaming up to create interactive jeans


After smartwatches and Google Glass, your jeans may be the next piece of clothing to help you access your tech without digging into your pockets. Levi’s is the first major American clothing designer to announce its partnership with Google’s ‘Project Jacquard’, it seeks to develop interactive clothes, woven using conductive yarns adorned with sensors discreetly integrated into buttons and seams. It gives a whole new meaning to the term wearable tech. So, are you ready to answer a call or send a text by simply touching the pocket of our jeans?

#2 Pepper, the new robot

Japanese telecom,SoftBank, began selling its Pepper robot for 198,000 yen (about $1,600) on 20th June, 2015. Pepper first debuted last year and was developed by French robotics group, Aldebaran. The robot interacts with humans verbally but is also meant to put people at ease in a more subtle way. Pepper – weighing 61 pounds and almost four feet tall – can mirror emotions and even express its own, for example, it will convey loneliness if you don’t interact with it. This emotional awareness is meant to make Pepper a better companion, because it is supposed to be fluent in the subtle forms of human communication. Robot emotions are still just simulations of human feelings. But at least robot roommates don’t leave dishes in the sink or lose the remote.

#3 #BellyButtonChallenge vs. #BoobsOverBellyButton


If you thought the ice-bucket challenge wasn’t enough to show how crazy and wacko our generation has become, we now have the Belly Button Challenge. The challenge has exploded in China, making it the number one trending topic on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter. It involves attempting to reach around your back and touch your belly button. The challenge has now reached more than 130 million hits – attracting even men – in just two days. While it appears to be nothing more than harmless fun, the challenge has been criticised in Western media for sending out negative messages about body image. Thus, another challenge has appeared, #BoobsOverBellyButton to fight back against the Belly Button Challenge. Indeed, British lingerie brand, Curvy Kate, known to promote body positivity, has countered the Belly Button Challenge. On the blog, Curvy Kate is asking women to post pictures of themselves touching their breasts to promote all body types, as well as the importance of breast exams.

#4 SNCF launches #TGVPop

On 16th June, SNCF, France’s national state-owned railway company launched a new digital campaign giving internet users the chance to start/stop a train. The first train will circulate on 5th July and the last one on 30th August. The principle is quite simple: if a passenger is interested in a train, the passenger can vote for its departure. A passenger can also invite their community to vote for the train. Once the selected itinerary has reached the required number of votes, trains go on sale and its departure is fixed four days later. Prices range from €25-€35, depending on the destination.

#5 Michel et Augustin in partnership with Starbucks


The French biscuit SME – known for its crazy communication – has just signed a partnership with Starbucks. The process happened at an incredible speed – just 48 hours. Initially, it was a mere sample request from Starbucks to send products to the corporate headquarters in Seattle. Instead, Michel et Augustin sent two of its employees to meet Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks. To publicise this meeting, the two employees of Michel et Augustin shared their journey on social media, posting videos of their adventure and mobilized their online community with the hashtag #AllezHowardUnCafé (#HowardGoesToACafe). The success was huge and this is a great example of how a social campaign can lead to a strategic brand partnership.

#6 updates its website


After eight years, the website of the City of Paris is getting a makeover. Launched on 24th June, by Mayor, Anne Hidalgo, this website is the digital showcase of Paris and attracts over 3.5 million visitors per month. Its goal is to bring together all the information the public will want or need to know. This refresh was needed in order to fit users’ expectations in terms of ergonomics and ease-of-use.


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Creative Inspiration: Our Fab Four Forces

While it would be lovely to imagine that every creative or strategic idea produced by a Marketing Director was an original product, the reality is usually different. Even the John Lewis’ marketing genius Craig Inglis will search around for inspiration before developing the likes of Sam and his penguin friend, Monty.

Disagree? Think there’s such thing as an original idea? Need proof? Ok – draw me a caveman in 30 seconds. Now, click this link. How many of you drew someone resembling that image? Now answer this – how do you know that cavemen wore animal skins or had long straggly hair like that? Answer – you don’t and there’s no physical evidence to suggest that they did.

But is it a problem that your beautifully crafted caveman – or award winning marketing campaign – is subconsciously inspired by the design of others? No, because while an idea might originate from one or more other sources, it doesn’t mean all ideas are plagiarised – simply that we do well by looking around to get our creative juices flowing.

In the business world, there are many sources of creative stimulation – here are a few of our favourites.

1: Hubspot



Hubspot describes itself as an inbound marketing and sales platform that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers. If you’re wondering how a sales platform can be inspiring to marketers, then you need to get your head into the digital space.

Rather than inspiring through hundreds of case studies – though these do feature within its blog – Hubspot aims to post multiple how-to, why and what articles every single day. There’s so much content you don’t stand a chance of consuming it all in one sitting.

We like: How digestible the content is – e.g. 10 Examples of Exceptional B2B Content Marketing and 11 Tips to Help Improve Your Brand’s Communication Strategy

2: Marketing Magazine


If we have one complaint about Marketing Magazine, it is the lack of B2B-centric campaigns being celebrated on its pages. Perhaps that’s because the proportion of mainstream B2C projects is naturally unbalanced? If that’s the case, we can let it off because, frankly, the site is a joy to read. With a great layout, ideal for scrolling through reams of ideas in seconds, and well-crafted content, Marketing Magazine can inspire anyone, no matter what their sector specialism.

We like: The ‘This Week’ tab which instantly brings you face-to-face with the latest case studies, stunts and goings-on. ‘This Week’ lets you keep on trend and avoid that awkward moment when you tell someone about the wonderful campaign you just discovered, and they point out it was wonderful, yes, back in 2006 when it first happened.

3:  Digital Buzz

digital buzz

Digital Buzz is our source for the best video campaign content. The site posts YouTube videos and Vimeo’s summarising the latest online campaigns – which means you don’t need to read a thing – unless you want a greater understanding of the project of course. In that case the site also features descriptions of each of the pieces they promote.

The Digital Buzz blog tends to be quite selective, posting just a few campaigns each week. In our minds this helps it keep its integrity and prevents it becoming the A-Z filing cabinet for the world’s video content (good and bad).

We like: The ‘shareability’ of the site. With social buttons all over the shop, everything on the site screams – MAKE ME VIRAL – SHARE ME!

4: B2B Marketing


A B2B bible of case studies, how-to pages, features and blogs. While it may not be as pleasing to the eye as other sites, and could benefit from more images, it is a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of content; much of it is contributed by real marketers in the industry. With 20 categories in its knowledge bank section alone, B2B Marketing really does cover every expanse and niche of the industry, and makes it easy for you to scour the creative landscape for inspiration.

On an additional note, though not exactly a source of creative inspiration, we also approve of the B2B-specific training courses it offers.

We like: Purely B2B and lots of creative examples, which makes this website stand apart from most marketing portals.

These are just four of the sites we like to frequent in order to recharge our batteries before a creative brainstorm – there are many others to include on your reading list: PR Week, Communicate and TED Talks to name just three. However, if time is limited, as it often is, we guarantee that perusing just a couple of these will get your brain moving in directions you might not have known otherwise.

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Weekly social scoop

The latest news and developments on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Brigade, just in case you missed them…

Weekly social scoop

#1 Twitter launches autoplay in timelines

By Brand Republic

  • Twitter has launched in-feed autoplay for native videos, Vines and Gifs
  • Autoplay has already resulted in a 7x increase in completions of Promoted Videos 

#2 Facebook to outline new ad formats for mobile

By Wall Street Journal

  • 25 billion people access the social networking service from smartphones and tablets each month
  • Mobile accounted for 73% of the company’s advertising revenues during the first quarter of 2015
  • To continue the growth of Facebook’s mobile-first focus, it will now build new mobile ad formats and advertising opportunities
  • Facebook’s chief product officer, Chris Cox, is expected to make the announcement at the Cannes Lions advertising festival on Monday 22nd June

#3 Pinterest adds verified accounts

By Mashable

  • Pinterest is increasingly used for shopping, making it a huge opportunity for ecommerce sites, so the company is verifying high-profile pinners
  • Verified users will have red check marks next to their names on their profiles to quickly identify them

#4 Facebook updates its news-feed algorithm to select the stories most relevant for users

By The Guardian

  • The company hopes to help make more “meaningful” stories appear at the top of people’s feeds by looking beyond metrics like comments, likes and shares
  • Time-spent on a story will have more of an effect on determining a news story’s relevance

#5 Sean Parker launches social network: Brigade

By The Guardian

  • Social network aims to generate interest around American citizen’s civic life
  • Starting off as a simple discussion tool that will allow users to share and debate their political beliefs
  • Users can mark certain topics by how much they agree with them to compare against friends and the wider population

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