By: Jordan Ross
At this point in time, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of YouTube. It has become one of the go-to places to find videos on the internet. Whatever it is you are looking for, from educational lectures to something that will make you laugh until you cry, YouTube has it. In terms of public relations, it can also be a great tool to help your organization get a message across to a large amount of people.
According to YouTube Press statistics, as of 2016, YouTube has over a billion users, which is almost one-third of all people on the internet. People watch hundreds of millions of hours on the site and generate billions of views every day. While YouTube does offer a paid version of the site in YouTube Red that eliminates advertisements, YouTube is free for anyone with internet access.
As a free site, YouTube has made it really easy for anyone to view what is on their site. The site has also made it easy for anyone to upload their own videos so that billions of others are able to view them. YouTube has allowed for people to get creative with the platform and there are a variety of different production methods for videos.
From companies that upload big-budget commercials that air on TV to their YouTube page, to people who upload shaky cam footage from their phone, there are great gems that can be found no matter how they are created. This can be a great platform for any organization to use, because no matter what your budget is, it allows you to create content that reaches a vast audience and use creativity to have the message resonate with the audience.
The Furkids Animal Rescue shelter headquartered in Atlanta, GA is a prime example of this. Furkids “is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization that operates the largest cage-free, no-kill shelter in the Southeast for rescued cats.” Their mission “is to rescue homeless animals, provide them with the best medical care and a nurturing environment, while working to find them a forever home.”
Furkids has been a member of YouTube since July 2012. The videos they typically upload to their page are of the animals that they have in their shelter. Looking over the videos that they have uploaded in the past, the organization has used YouTube as a platform to connect with people and to provide a new loving home to the animals. The average number of views that a Furkids video uploads on YouTube receives is typically around 1,000. On a site with over a billion users, that’s not the most, but Furkids has remained consistent with uploading videos to the page.
The videos Furkids usually uploads are just filmed off of a regular phone camera, and as a nonprofit, the organization doesn’t have the most money to spend on its video production. As mentioned before, YouTube allows creativity to shine through regardless of budget, and in December 2016, Furkids was able to use that creativity to create a video that gained a lot more attention on YouTube than they ever have before.
On December 23, 2016, Furkids released a 3-minute commercial on its YouTube page highlighting the shelter’s efforts, although it wasn’t your average commercial. The video was shot in about 30 minutes and edited in about an hour, and definitely was not your typical high-budget affair. In fact, it was very low budget. What the video lacked in production value was made up for in authenticity, and you could tell that this was a genuine message that was aimed at helping the organization accomplish its mission of helping those rescued animals (some of which made cameo appearances in the commercial).
As of January 12, the video has gained over 4.5 million views on YouTube. That doesn’t even count the millions of views that it has received on Facebook and Twitter. What was originally a low-budget video, turned out to be a large success for Furkids. They didn’t have to spend a lot of money. They just used creativity, and genuine love and care for what they were doing was seen in their efforts. As a result, Furkids was able to reach millions of people and increase awareness for their cause dramatically.
For an organization, this should be a lesson that it’s not just about the amount of money that you spend. There are more important things than that. It also goes to show how effectively YouTube can be as a tool to reach an audience of potentially over a billion people for a very low price if you’re creative enough. If you’re able to create a message that resonates with people and aren’t afraid to think outside the box, then you could really have a winning combination on your hands. Furkids certainly does, and 4.5 million people and counting may also agree with that.
Jordan Ross is a senior at Eastern Michigan University majoring in public relations and minoring in communications. Jordan is in his first semester serving as the Vice President of Professional Development for EMU’s Eleanor Wright Chapter of PRSSA. Jordan is also a member of EMU’s Honors College and serves as the President of the EMU Student Center Student Employee Advisory Committee. You can find Jordan on Twitter @_JJRoss.