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Now for something completely different … Say Hello(Style) to the new YouTube

Now for something completely different … Say Hello(Style) to the new YouTube

There was really only one stunt in town this week.

The much-shared, often referred to, mammothly Tweeted, re-tweeted and Facebooked “push the button to add drama” film from TNT Belgium.

It’s a lovely piece of creative work and it caught the imagination with its combination of PR stunt, real-life stunt and real first person reaction to the drama as it unfolded. Fifteen million views (marginally more than the population of Belguim, one might observe churlishly), and counting.

So instead of writing about that again, I thought that I’d note something that, as a PR man, I thought was rather more significant: the launch this weekend of Hearst’s YouTube-backed HelloStyle Channel on the video sharing platform of global renown.

Because if this one works, it’s going to be an interesting new opportunity for all of us involved in the world of PR.

Here’s a clip from one of their teaser shows …

Now for those who aren’t aware of all of this (and I suspect there will be many of you out there), the back story to this runs thus …

Google is in serious need of higher quality content.

In part because that’s a good thing for advertising eyeballs on their video sharing site.

But also because (one speculates), unique content on YouTube might help a planned break for GoogleTV, offering the brand some exclusive, TV-quality programming for its new venture which would differentiate it from the AppleTVs, Netflix and LoveFilms of that world with whom it will no doubt share its core content offering.

So instead of creating that content themselves, they’ve instead put up a wall of cash (around $100 million reportedly) for other people to create it independently: with partners creating channels and deciding independently how to programme and create their own shows.

Of that sum, it would appear that around $10 million has been handed over to Hearst Magazines (NatMags to those of my generation!).

In return, NatMags is going about the creation of two channels (primarily US at present) which they are programming with content from their stable of magazines.

For HelloStyle, which launched on Sunday, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Seventeen & Real Beauty have been brought together under the YouTube channel banner and new content has been created that is “inspired” (or lifted) from magazine features.

The shows are being presented both by staff journalists (where the skills exist) and by bought-in talent and are pretty clearly aimed at the broadest range of female demographics.

A men’s channel will follow with Hearst’s motoring titles leading the charge. Though given that they also have Esquire in their portfolio, it might not stop at cars if things go well.

So why should you care?

Because this is a huge leap.

Firstly we’re seeing magazine titles embrace video content. As anyone will know who has PR’d to online video or radio titles with decent listener or viewerships, this kind of media has a voracious appetite for content: a new opportunity for those of us who can get to grips with the demands of this emergent channel.

But at the same time, this is just the beginning. As Google continues to look at ways of taking its YouTube brand into homes (through GoogleTV), it’ll start to think about ways to encourage more TV-quality (tho not length or budget) content from exclusive partners.

It would appear to have a stack of cash to push the way of brands (whether they will stop at funding media brands alone or whether they might be interested in co-funding branded content from others remains to be seen).

The next step, one has to assume is that these kinds of channels become part of an exclusive content roster that will, before too long, be finding its way into homes.

With the co-promotion of some of the biggest lifestyle brands in print media behind them, I wouldn’t bet against these channels becoming a force to be reckoned with for those of us interested in reaching online-savvy information hounds who are watching their favourite magazines on their tellies in the future …