Agencies are often asked to communicate for public organizations and when the Nova Scotia Power Authority wanted to inform the province of steps to take to maintain safety during a winter storm, Stephanie McGrath, National PR’s Director of Content Strategy pitched a video series.

This isn’t just because video is latest hot medium for storytelling, but rather McGrath felt that it would be the most effective way to communicate the power authority’s message. It would be direct, entertaining and measurable.

“We (communicators) need to stop talking about things like marketing, or PR, or communications,” said McGrath. “Instead what you want to convey is that communicating through your suggested tactics will be useful and effective.”

The Storm Wars Trilogy video series worked garnering sizeable shares on social media and even earning McGrath a Golden Quill Merit Award through the International Association of Business Communicators.

numbersSelling clients on the idea of web series or even a single video requires practitioners to have two things on hand:

1. Examples, examples, examples

When you present to a client, find examples of how a similar campaign has worked for a company in their industry. These don’t have to be your own work, nor only from Canada, but they should illustrate that your campaign concept can work.

“My advice would always have backups,” said McGrath. “Have multiple examples of other companies in similar verticals that have done things like this and have been successful.”

2. An understanding of the audience

You should know as much about your client’s target audience demographic as you do about your client. For McGrath, she lives in Nova Scotia so she is the target audience. However if you don’t have that imbedded knowledge, you can collect consumer insights through asocial media persona analysis.

“Research what your audience wants and what the organization and corporate objectives are,” said McGrath. “Tie both the audience’s needs and the organization’s goals together and present that to your clients.”


7CanadianComm_Graphics-20Here is what McGrath knew about her Nova Scotia audience going into the project:

  • Nova Scotians have an affinity for a local named Frankie McDonald – who shares loud, eccentric ad hoc weather reports and has a passionate digital following. Featuring Frankie at the beginning of the first video in the series would help the series reach its target audience.
  • Nova Scotians widely use the #StormChips hashtag – a province-wide inside joke that discusses how residents eat during a storm. Vegetables need not apply. She used this as a theme throughout the video series.

This works because it is localized. It isn’t a web series for all of the country to learn about what to do during a power outage or a storm but instead is content for Nova Scotians about how to act when the coastal province has a storm.

Niche content in any format will outperform broader messaging within that niche.


Want more advice on how to create great content? Read Cision Canada’s new e-book.

About James Rubec

James Rubec is a data geek, a former public relations lead and journalist with a love of content and advocacy. Ask him anything @JamesRRubec and be sure to follow @Cision_Canada

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