In our remote work, social distancing, quarantined coronavirus existence, tech tools can help us be proactive in our messaging to a constantly evolving audience.
Working in quarantine poses unique challenges for communicators. What videoconference tools should you be using? Can you air a video news conference or statement from your CEO remotely?
Recently, PRNEWS hosted a webinar on COVID-19 communications that explored these questions.
To probe further, PRNEWS surveyed the PR industry for fave internal and external digital communication tools in the midst of the crisis. Bottom line, Zoom dominated!
The ease of use of the videoconferencing app makes it a strong contender for internal team meetings and external communications. The Spin Cycle has become the go to Zoom trainer for my family, namely my parents, opening them to a virtual world that I have been using with clients for more than five years. With larger groups, be sure to state and re-state the “mute if you’re not talking” rule and designate a moderator for the duration.
Finn Partners’ director of social media Justin Buchbinder suggests breaking up the monotony of video conferences with Zoom’s playful custom backgrounds, some of which are branded (e.g., Disney). Manu Muraro, founder of Instagram training group Your Social Team, has even created some branded backgrounds of her own for added levity (and for hiding “less-than-ideal” home office environments). Muraro, who uses Zoom for online live classes and client calls, also likes that Zoom allows for recording and sending out video sessions after the fact.
Everywhere Agency CEO Danica Kombol has high praise for the platform so far: “Zoom has never failed us once we made the transition,” she said. The agency is using Zoom for a (projected) 500-attendee virtual fundraiser for YWCA of Atlanta. “Zoom checked all the boxes when it came to our ability to stage a major event, show videos, feature multiple honorees and allow as many people to join as possible,” Kombol told PRNEWS. She predicts the tool will come to be regarded as a “true savior” for professional communicators in quarantine.
Video-streaming service Vimeo has been a popular choice among communicators for thought leadership. The platform excels at storing and streaming high-quality, pre-recorded videos, and can be posted to social media (depending on privacy settings). For example, Todd Simmons, CEO of Arkansas-based pet foot supplier Simmons Foods Inc., thanked employees via a Vimeo video posted to LinkedIn.
The platform offers a free option, as well as several paid tiers. Many churches, nonprofits and community groups have dived into this to reach its stay-at-home audiences.
Like the other videoconferencing tools, GoToMeeting has both paid and unpaid tiers, but – anecdotally, at least – it has its share of bugs and mishaps. “GoToMeeting had serious challenges and on some days completely crashed” as quarantine measures went into effect, Kombol said. This could indicate the platform isn’t an ideal choice for external-facing streams.
Google Hangouts/Google Meet
If your company is a Google shop making heavy use of the company’s enterprise storage and email client offerings, Google Hangouts or Google Meet could offer a relatively seamless transition to videoconferencing. The enterprise version of Google Meet has a 250-person limit. Garruto says he reluctantly made the switch from Hangouts to Zoom but was happy with the decision once he learned the latter tool.
Facebook pledges $100 Million to aid media outlets
Facebook is donating $100 million to help news outlets that are taking a revenue hit during the coronavirus crisis.
The tech giant recently announced a plan to offer $25 million in emergency grant funding for local news outlets through its Facebook Journalism Project. The remaining $75 million will be funneled to publishers globally through Facebook ad spending.
The move comes as advertisers cut back on spending in the age of COVID-19. Advertising is a critical revenue stream for news media in the U.S.
“The news industry is working under extraordinary conditions to keep people informed during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Facebook said in a statement. “At a time when journalism is needed more than ever, ad revenues are declining due to the economic impact of the virus.”
Facebook’s grants are going to publishers that need them the most in the hardest-hit countries in the world, the first round of which went to 50 local newsrooms in the U.S. and Canada.
Advertising revenue for news outlets has been falling for years, and tech giants like Facebook and Google are often credited with causing the shift as they divert money from publishers to themselves.
Google is responding to the coronavirus crisis by donating $340 million in ad credits to support small and medium-sized businesses, the search giant recently announced.