Video Rules (Part 2): An Inside Look at Fast Company, Mashable and Vox Media

How magazines and digital outlets are approaching video…

Fast Company 29th Floor SxSWThe video landscape has evolved dramatically in the past few years as new players challenge YouTube’s dominant position.

New platforms like Meerkat and Periscope are popular among presidential candidates, major media outlets, and onlookers livestreaming highlights from events like the Met Museum costume gala.

At the recent PCNY event devoted to video’s rise, six legacy and digital-only brands outlined how they’re increasing their video presence. The panel was moderated by Peter Himler, PCNY president and principal of Flatiron Communications LLCPart 1 of PRNewser’s coverage yesterday focused on three legacy newspaper brands, and Part 2 looks at three newer magazine and digital-only outlets:

  • Fast Company/FC: Shalini Sharma, head of video development
  • Mashable: Mike Schmidt, editorial director of video
  • Vox Media: Marcos Bueno, head of production and media operations

These three don’t just produce video–they have also established partnerships with various sites to feature their content and increase its visibility. For Fast Company (owned by Mansueto Ventures), deals include arrangements with Dailymotion, a French video platform, among many others.

Each brand spans several different verticals, from business to culture to sports. They’re expanding their video staffs, and all promote video branded or sponsored content.

Fast Company Power Couples Warby ParkerFast Company videos: covering entertainment, the environment and design

“Fast Company magazine, nearly 20 years old, is now taking our legacy brand and creating a life of its own online,” said Shalini Sharma.

Fast Company has three verticals or co-sites: one for entertainment and Hollywood, one for businesses with environmental interests, and one covering the broader field of design.

The video department is part of Fast Co. Studios production company, and staffers either conceive of ideas and experiments on their own or build on the work of Fast Company reporters. They create limited-run video series with four to eight episodes that air once or twice per week…and then they see what sticks.

Sharma provided several examples, like the show “29th floor,” which is named after FC’s HQ at 7 WTC, addresses topical subjects, and appeared on this very blog in the past. The FC team also produces videos about innovators, and they’ve taped sessions at SXSW (image above). In addition, they launched “Fast Comedy” about workplace themes and tips. The “Power Couples” series isn’t just about married power couples (such as the principals at Warby Parker, pictured), but also features siblings who work together.

Fast Company also hosts events like Creativity LA, featuring top Hollywood creators, and tapes tours of select studios and host talks. In October 2015, FC will host the brand’s 20th anniversary in New York City (it’s an event for PRs to keep in mind).

Fast Company videos are often shot on location with talent, so the brand frequently works with publicists. Sharma determines whether pitches fit into FC’s existing video plans, and she said the typical advance planning time is about one to two months.

Mashable videos: building content and livestreaming across verticals

Editorial Director Schmidt said:

“Our plans are to scale up our video team for production and to build our inventory. We want to increase our content across all our verticals, such as travel and fashion.”

Mashable has a large digital media footprint, but a small video production team. So they need to grow their video capabilities to tell stories to their digitally connected generation of viewers, Schmidt added.

They post videos on YouTube, Bright Cove and other video platforms. Since Mashable is an early adaptor of new digital formats, they use Periscope and Meerkat. They create three to four hours of livestream per day on these platforms.

“We’re ‘all in’ using new digital tools. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t”, Schmidt added.

Vox Media videos: bringing cinematic storytelling online

From Bueno, head of production and operations:

“We value journalistic integrity, plus we are a business. We’re trying to push the boundaries and still maintain a clear voice in what we do.”

Vox Media, a digital-only brand, has been in business for 3.5 years. The company owns several properties: Vox.com, The Verge, SB Nation, Polygon, Curbed, Eater and Racked. Its videos often involve collaborations between Vox brands.

Vox Studios produces these videos, and they’ve been livestreaming since the project’s inception. Topics range from new tech products to trends in gaming.

Vox Creative does sponsored or branded content, but only with certain stories. Those produced in the video format feature either short-form or long-form material.

Overall PR takeaways

While the video space is rapidly changing, similarities apply between print, online and video from a PR pitching perspective. On the paid side, sponsored content represents an opportunity for brands. On the earned side, pitches with well-targeted story angles and relevant topical experts are more likely to succeed.

Another suggestion: align a pitch with anniversaries and/or major cultural events.

(Images courtesy of Fast Company/FastCo Studios)