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Pilot PMR launches documentary division


By Chris Powell

August 12, 2011

Toronto-based PR agency Pilot PMR has launched a new documentary division with a mandate to tell corporate and brand stories through short-form online videos.

Pilot president and CEO David Doze told Marketing that the new unit is a reflection of the growing significance of earned media in an expanding – and ad-cluttered – online environment.

“In a world where audiences are in so many places, we believe that earned [media] is what is really required to move the bar,” said Doze. “In this kind of open environment, you can’t advertise your way into the hearts and minds of folks – you’ve got to work at a different level.”

Consumers, he said, are increasingly attracted to marketing that is more than just a slogan and a message, but offers them meaning. “An audience will gladly repay you with their attention if you give them something of value,” said Doze. “The documentary format inherently has something of value because it has a point of view and context – it’s not just a self-promotional item.”

The new documentary unit is a natural progression for Pilot, said Doze, since many of its projects already involve a video component.

The agency, he said, is increasingly straddling the line between a traditional PR shop and a creative agency.

“We have clients on the consumer and corporate side where we are the primary source for both strategy and story,” said Doze. “Our executions can become advertising, as opposed to the other way around.

“We aspire to be that strategic counsel that says ‘Here’s the story we need to tell: We can write it, we can film it, we’ve got a creative director that can lead you through that process, and we can also turn it into advertising.’”

Doze said that the short-form videos will range from 45 seconds to four minutes. The unit is currently developing its first documentary for client Open Options – an international consulting firm – that involves Quebec-based filmmaker Francine Pelletier. The project is designed to tell the story behind Open Options’ new strategic positioning, “One decision can change everything” and is expected to debut in early October.

Doze said that the documentary division could ultimately account for as much as 25% of Pilot’s business.

The agency also announced the launch of its new website and a new quarterly journal called Spout that will feature articles, short perspective pieces and candid video interviews with consumers.