THE BLOG
12/17/2012 01:19 pm ET Updated Feb 16, 2013

What Role Will Your Company Play in Disruptive Video?

It's in the blood. Sir Richard Branson's son Sam is disrupting at least one industry. Entertainment. Sam announced this week that anyone in the world can view his documentary for free for one month, not in movie theatres, but on his production company's branded YouTube channel.

See it as another sign that your organization is facing a threat and opportunity: Video disruption. The lines are rapidly blurring between TV, movies, documentaries, amateur and professional video vignettes and how-to programming. Novel new partnerships for creation, promotion and distribution are proliferating, threatening the status quo.

2013 is the year that your organization either creates its own "TV" programs or is in danger of losing out to a competitor that may not yet exist. With the right partners, you could either launch a video-based start-up to serve the market you know best or suggest that your organization do so.

Forge Audience-Building Partnerships

Sam Branson's production company Sundog Pictures partnered with Google, which owns YouTube, to launch the documentary. Breaking the Taboo, which is about the war on drugs. YouTube featured the film on its home page and hosted premieres in New York, and in London, with Richard Branson bringing celebrity friends to celebrate. Morgan Freeman narrated a video teaser, starring Kate Winslet (causing an unexpected stir), Dizzee Rascal, Mia Farrow and other celebrities are promoting using the hashtag #breakthetaboo.

Why all this upfront "social" and in-person promotion for a film that will not be released until next year? Sundog's Johnny Webb said: "It's incredibly difficult to get significant theatrical distribution even for the most acclaimed feature documentary, and even then you can measure audiences in the tens of thousands." This way, "we believe we can reach millions of people rather than thousands, and create a virtuous circle of promotion which will boost viewing in the global TV window." Google is on an uneven global spending binge to upgrade and expand the number of channels, genres, access and content creator support on YouTube, which is already experiencing exponential growth, and it has committed $300 million to market them.

That makes it a mighty attractive distribution channel. And your organization can be valuable to YouTube because you have a built-in market.

What you need next is a video-based audience-involving situation, conference or other event, social experiment, contest, stakeholder crowdsourcing opportunity or other way to move from push marketing to pull content. Here are some ways others are using video to grow their to grow increasingly engaged with their key stakeholders and top of mind in their market.

Also, you don't need celebrities or big bucks to benefit from video, and authors, thought leaders and companies can collaborate to reach a larger audience, using video.