LIVE STREAMING TOOLS: A BEST PRACTICE GUIDE Leonardo Stavale
Live broadcast apps are the latest fashion when it comes to online communications. Learn how PR initiatives could – and should -- take advantage of these tools utilising them in a strategic way.
• Why streaming apps are in high demand
• The opportunities and benefits of using live broadcasting within a PR strategy
• The success factors for live broadcasting
The increase in the use of smartphones, the amount of time users spend on their devices and the growth in online video consumption are a few factors that justify the success of live streaming tools such as Meerkat, Periscope and Facebook Live.
When used in a strategic fashion, live streaming resources can be a powerful communication tool for brands and organisations. The benefits of using such resources include increased brand awareness, audience engagement and message cut through.
A key asset is the ability of such tools (apps) to humanize the relationship between brands and their audience, bringing them closer together, often a natural result of live broadcasting.
The ‘live’ presence is seen by the public as an act of courage for being unedited in nature, giving a sense of spontaneity, authenticity and transparency to this form of communication. A willingness to answer and interact in real time is key to ensure genuine engagement from consumers and fans.
There is also a technical and cost benefit to be derived: the digital era has caused channels to fragment and multiply and, as a result, live streaming apps have become a useful resource for brands looking to amplify their message with target audiences in a much more cost effective manner than previously.
In a scenario that sees users connected to their smartphones on a full time basis, live broadcasting enables brands to engage audiences in a new way, at different times of the day, and spearhead the intense battle for consumer attention.
When to use live streaming tools
There are countless opportunities for using live streaming tools but not all of them are right for every market or company. It is imperative to take into account the characteristics of the audience, the spokespeople and the organisation in question.
• Product launch: Live streaming a product review is a more natural approach to a product launch. Being exposed to real time queries from users brings authenticity, transparency and life to the brand.
• Q&As: Conducting chats with business leaders. For instance, a HR staffing company can schedule periodic Q&As on career challenges or include live streaming as a strategy for launching the results of a study or research.
• Backstage: We often do not know how the products we consume are produced or the environment in which they’re manufactured. Showing these elements via live broadcasting can help communicate company values and show the corporate culture behind products and services, particularly good for organisations wishing to show green credentials or how well they look after their staff.
• Press conferences and events: Journalists have increasingly less time to leave the newsroom to secure news footage and distance can be a limiting factor. Therefore, live streaming tools have the potential to amplify media coverage at events and press conferences.
• Teaser: Live streaming is a great way to generate curiosity about a product or service. The best example is Facebook’s very first live streaming when Mark Zuckerberg debuted the new feature presenting Facebook’s workplace, meeting rooms and his personal working space.
• Hits: Live streaming can piggyback on trending topics and take advantage of hitting an audience in the heat of the moment, enhancing interaction and engagement.
• Borrowed audience: Brands and companies can leverage the audiences of media outlets to start surfing the live streaming wave. Pitch creative opportunities to the media to secure interviews, launches and live chats using the social media channels of those media outlets.
Moving from a tactical approach to a strategic one
When embracing any new comms activity, it’s important to ensure this fits with the organisational objectives and will be an effective tool within the overall comms campaign.
Here are a few recommendations for live streaming successfully and achieving your corporate goals while retaining viewers’ attention:
• Planning: From the moment you decide to include live streaming in your strategy, it is critical to plan the content or script in order to ensure that you are embracing your company’s goals and key messages.
• Frequency: The best way to gain and maintain people’s attention is to live stream regularly and even create a schedule that the audience organically includes as part of their routine without even noticing.
• Training: Not all employees, especially senior management, are born to perform live presentations or are able to keep streaming consistently. It takes practice and it is imperative to provide training for presenters, including improvisation skills, because it is common for ongoing interaction to determine the content and flow of the video.
• Confidentiality: Caution is required when producing the script for a live broadcast. Any small oversight can reveal confidential information or strategic data that a company doesn’t want shared. Advance planning and ongoing checks are critical.
• Interaction: The main asset of live streaming tools is real time interaction. If you ignore or prevent this, the communication loses its appeal and the audience can soon get frustrated.
• Connection: Before going live make sure you have a high quality connection, strong enough to support the streaming without interruptions or audio/video problems as these soon scare away fans.
There are many opportunities to use live streaming tools to great benefit, as explored in this chapter. However, if these are not deployed as part of an overall strategy their use can be at best an expensive mistake and at worst reputationally damaging. The organisations which plan well and take advantage of this new way of communicating have an unprecedented chance to better understand and engage with their audiences, add authenticity, and further humanise their brand. Why not give it a go.