7 Video Best Practices From PBS Digital Studios

7 Video Best Practices From PBS Digital Studios


Last week I had the opportunity to attend Digital Summit DC, where I spent two days mingling with marketing professionals from throughout the country and learning the latest best practices and hottest trends in digital marketing.

As video has emerged as the most important platform for marketers, the following is a brief review of “best practices,” as presented by Brandon Arolfo, Executive Producer of PBS Digital Studios.

PBS Digital Studios

PBS has come a long way from just Sesame Street and Mister Rogers.

Its digital arm, PBS Digital Studios, currently manages 14 different video channels that publish online either weekly or biweekly.

It’s the primary way PBS extends its reach to Millennials and teens who don’t watch TV.

Not surprisingly, PBS uses social media almost exclusively to drive traffic to their online videos.

According to Arolfo, the three biggest social channels PBS Digital uses for driving views to their YouTube channels or website are:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Tumblr

Video Best Practices

1. Know Your Audience

For videos to work well on YouTube they have to be short, entertaining and informal – think conversational tidbits that can teach a cool science lesson in two minutes.

Another thing that stood out for me here is their use of Tumblr as a key social media channel.

I’m old. I am not on Tumblr and have probably only visited the platform once.

But PBS Studios knows its audience – and goes where they are.

2. Emulate What’s Already Working

Arolfo talked a lot about “competitor analysis” of already-successful video formats on YouTube.

In other words, it’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel.

There are proven formats that work, like the talking head front-and-center with a screen of explanatory graphics over his shoulder.

3. Be Authentic

The overused adage that audiences today value authenticity from brands rings doubly true for video.

If your host is a middle-aged scientist, don’t try to have him act like the manic host of a Japanese game show. Allow his authority and gravitas to come through naturally, and his audience will love him for it.

4. Be Conversational

Jargon has its place but should be used sparingly. Hosts should embrace that these short video clips should aim to both educate and entertain.

One way to do that is to keep it simple and conversational. This ties into the “be authentic” advice above.

5. Collaborate with Other Creators

Embrace ways to collaborate with other YouTube influencers who complement your niche.

PBS Digital Studios has done this to great effect, such as recently having Jabril from SEFD Daily guest-star on an episode of Physics Girl.

While Jabril is more of a Vine star than a YouTube one, he comes with his own built-in audience that follows him to other platforms.

6. Don’t be Afraid to Experiment

“Experimentation” was a recurring buzzword during the entire Digital Summit, as even the most savvy digital marketers admitted that we are still in the infancy of professionalized digital marketing – there’s no set formula for achieving virality.

Thus, the key to success is to “agile marketing” – producing content quickly, remaining nimble and, as Arolfo said, “Throwing it to the wall, to see what sticks.”

7. Promotion is Key

No matter how good your content is, it’s useless if nobody sees it.

So spend the majority of your time on promotion, not production.

For PBS Studios, 30% of the time and effort is in actually creating the video content, whereas 70% of the time and effort is spent on promotion via social media channels.


Space Time: The Real Meaning of E=mc²

Epic Space Rescues ft. BrainCraft

PBS Digital Studios Network Trailer

Be the first to comment on "7 Video Best Practices From PBS Digital Studios"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.