This National News Clip Brought To You By an iPhone 4

By now, millions of people have seen this footage, taken out the window of a passenger flight from Orlando to Richmond, Virginia, documenting the blast off of the space shuttle Discovery’s final trip into space on February 24th.


What’s amazing is that a quick-thinking software developer named Neil captured it with his iPhone, and now his footage has been broadcast on MSNBC and popped up all over the net on blogs and news sites.  Think about that–a good percentage of the country has watched this amateur’s footage that he shot with his phone.  Not a news camera. Certainly not a Panavision. Not even a Flip camera–a phone. And a smart phone which allows quick uploads to YouTube. It’s a whole new world…

This is a perfect example of the democratization of production: the ability of anyone, anywhere, regardless of wealth or training, to create filmed content. Celebrities and politicians have to deal with this all the time, being extraordinarily vigilant about maintaining their image every waking moment because they never know when someone will be snapping photos or shooting video of them. The democratization of content is why student work can travel further and reach broader audiences than ever before. And it’s why brands should be continually experimenting in this space, creating clips of inspiration, information and entertainment for their communities to enjoy and share. This is a huge, cost-effective opportunity area that most big brands simply ignore, even as smaller, more nimble niche brands invest the time to reach their audience.  Check out what the clever people of do as they not only sell various products for maintaining healthy, attractive lake fronts, they demonstrate each and every one with a video clip showing the product in use and the end result. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s very, very effective.

As remarkable as this clip is, it’s not the only footage of the launch shot from a commercial plane. While this clip earned upwards of 2.7 million views, a cleaner and arguably even better clip of the same event shot from an Air Canada flight, languishes in the four figures.  But then that second clip lacks this wonderful narration that the pilot made over the intercom on the first clip: “…those of you on the right side of the aircraft, you can see the space shuttle.  People on the left side of the aircraft can probably see the people on the right side of the aircraft looking at the space shuttle.

That’s a good joke. And sometimes, that makes all the difference.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79



Empowering Digital Spitballs: One Real Benefit of Universal Production Access

Picture 1The greatest thing Apple has produced for consumers is not the iMac or the iPod and certainly not the iPhone: it’s iMovie and other software that provide easy, widespread access to video production tools. Thanks to Apple, anyone with a Mac can produce some sort of video asset–shooting, editing and scoring the entire thing right at their desk or laptop.  And anyone with a broadband connection can post it to any number of websites for the world to see.

At the box office, this kind of innovation fuels dreams of ‘Paranormal Activity’ which after another relatively-successful weekend is closing in on $98 million in domestic tickets off of a paltry fifteen thousand dollar production budget.

But at home, it’s led to the ever-expanding world of YouTube comedy.   Today, anyone can jump on this bandwagon and post their take to help fuel a meme.  All it takes is a good, timely idea.

With that in mind, surf here.  If you’ve seen a movie in theaters these past few months, you’ve seen a trailer for Roland Emmerich’s latest CGI fest,2012.  But you haven’t seen it like this.  Consider this a brimming cup full of piping hot comedy for your Monday morning.  Oh, and if this pitch-perfect soundtrack doesn’t set your ironic toe a-tapping, check your pulse.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

PR Now Sidestepping Traditional Media Relationships To Pitch Consumers Directly

Advertising Age published an interesting item the other day on the rising trend among PR firms to take a pass on pitching traditional media outlets and go directly to consumers with their messages.

A cynic might contend that publishing and media layoffs have cut the ranks so deeply that there simply aren’t enough journalists to pitch anymore, but the reality is that the widespread availability and low cost of  earned media outlets make it easier than ever to get marketing content out.  The proliferation of highly-engaged niche audiences online makes finding the appropriate audience simple.  Add these modern media realities to the democratization of production and the PR industry faces a new reality with its go-to-market strategy.  Low cost HD cameras and simple desktop editing put the power of video storytelling in most anyone’s hands, the web provides a ready outlet, and so we upend one more vestige of the one-way marketing model as PR firms create YouTube channels, send bloggers content and distribute relevant video to online communities.

Which brings up yet another convergence-based issue: do marketers need separate entities to handle marketing and public relations?   Does paid media require one set of experts and earned another?  In the absolute, perhaps, but in the workaday world, that’s becoming less and less viable, both economically and strategically.  If your advertising agency develops a strategic idea platform for consumers and the web provides direct access to those consumers, why would you need to employ a separate agency to connect the two?  That responsibility should reside with your agency people who hopefully, are already far more skilled than the average bear at generating compelling video content.

The challenge is to help agencies understand that their primary responsibilities now include direct-to-consumer PR.  Opinion has a mass channel and our messages must be in it.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79