5 PR Strategies That Can Be Learnt From YouTubers

By Rudi Davis Published: 7 October, 2016 Last updated: February 18th, 2022 at 10:41 am

a phone with youtube app

YouTube has a unique way of reeling in audiences that televised media does not.

Prominent YouTuber personalities capture the attention of a mostly Millennial crowd, for a whole seven minutes (approximately one hour in Millennial time). This all filmed in the simple backdrop of their own rooms. Their videos are funny, sad, informative, political – a whole spectrum of different viewers — but above all, they are accessible. It is no wonder that the video platform is quickly replacing television.

Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s global head of content mentioned in an article that “(he) thought YouTube was like TV, but it isn’t.” He reasoned that the difference was due to the fact that “TV means reach, (and) YouTube means engagement.”

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With popular YouTubers receiving subscribers in the millions, there is no doubt that they are PR aficionados in their own right. Some graduate from starting out in front of a low quality camera in a corner of their room to having books published about them. And all this from merely producing videos… about themselves.

Just like YouTubers, startups begin with little or no traction in the industry. And like online entertainers, startup companies are faced with an audience waiting to be wowed. What, then, can budding entrepreneurs learn from their online compatriots?

Have a distinct voice

Successful YouTubers have discovered their own strongest selling points. It could range from a unique cultural standpoint (like Lilly Singh, a Canadian-born Indian), a specialized skillset (much like Dominic the dancer), or simply their wit.

Either way, these YouTubers play up their talents, so it becomes a trademark that viewers will recognize, ultimately making them want to subscribe. But despite being unique, YouTubers have held onto some familiar conventions; many successful YouTubers have distinctive theme songs, intros, and outros, much like that of prolific television shows.

Being comfortable with your idiosyncrasies and repeatedly shouting them from the highest mountains does have its merits. Startups should likewise find something tangible that sets them apart, and play up that difference. It could be an idea, a logo or a slogan, or simply the quirkiness of your brand’s voice. If Old Spice has taught us anything, it is that difference (and quirkiness) sells.

Be inclusive

YouTube has enough content to cater to just about anyone, anywhere around the world. It’s not that YouTubers actively single out the fact that they are inclusive, but the subject matter produced usually applies to almost everyone.

In fact, the viewership ratings generally correlate to how secular and relatable the subject matter is, which is why YouTube is quickly becoming more popular than TV.

Despite the need to target particular clients and potential clients, companies that have an awareness of a wider audience tend to have a positive image all round. Even targeted marketing campaigns can make an effort to explain their endeavor to a general audience so that the word gets out fast. A good example would be Slack’s Twitter channel, in which the company’s personableness and approachability is amplified. This has resulted in the company receiving largely positive reviews, a testament to how the masses respect openness.

Be as honest as you possibly can

The whole realm of Youtube is founded on the principle of honest communication. It doesn’t get simpler than a chatty personality in front of a HD camera. That is the main appeal of YouTube– that it is simple and honest. In fact, YouTubers started a video trend amongst themselves, a “Draw My Life” series. Many YouTube personalities contributed a video on it, and viewers soon discovered the dark past most of their idols went through. This did not deter the audience. In fact, the opposite happened. YouTubers received more support as the trend of honesty made them more personable.

It’s not to say that you should advertize your failures, but showing the fact that your company has some understanding of failure may not be a bad thing. Look at Steve Jobs, college dropout turned billionaire (who is also THE example kids take to as an argument against a college education). All this should be done in hindsight though, no one wants to hear your company’s tale of struggle when you are at the position of actually struggling. A popular example would be Airbnb’s rise to fame.

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Quality Collaborations

What’s better than watching one entertaining YouTuber? Watching two of them. Like most of the media industry, YouTube understands the benefits of a good cameo or collaboration. Not only will the viewers of one YouTube celebrity be entertained, they will be introduced to a new personality by someone they already trust. This generates more viewership all round, especially if the subject matter is highly amusing.

Similarly, startups should seek to collaborate with other companies that are driven by the same goals. There has been a growing trend of startups partnering with major companies to further the growth of both parties. Big companies such as General Electric, Motorola and Disney have been known to rely on startups to continue their success. Finding a sustainable partnership with a company that shares similar ideals will prove essential for the growth of your company.

A sense of humour never hurt anybody

The key factor that propels a mediocre YouTube personality to fame is a video that tickles viewers’ funny bone. The quickest route to online success is to find an inspired topic to set the viewers ROFL-ing.

Of course companies are not in the business of entertaining clients, but there is a growing trend of companies showing a healthy amount of wit in their exchange with clients. These companies go on to receive a great deal of unwarranted PR success. At the end of the day, humor is the one trait that connects everyone.  

Perhaps it’s time to take a leaf from the book of the most prolific of YouTubers, oftentimes a “rags to riches” situation. If laymen are able to relate to the public with just a camera, think of the possibilities your company has. Perhaps a viral YouTube video may not be such a far-fetched idea after all…