By Rahel Kramer
This month’s column is brought to you by Rahel Kramer, an exchange student from Hamburg, Germany. Rahel is pursuing her master’s degree and interning with Fujita & Miura Public Relations through the first quarter of 2007.

Since it was founded in 2005, YouTube has become the most popular free video sharing website on the world wide web. So popular that Google bought it in Oct. 2006 for $1.65 billion. So popular that over 100 million videos are airing now with up to 70,000 more each day. So popular that it has been noted as “Time” magazine’s “Invention of the Year 2006.”

YouTube has made video sharing easy. Users can upload, view, and share video clips without downloading any software or registering. This means that anyone can make and distribute their own videos or movies. Plus, users can contribute actively by rating the videos, which means YouTube offers a two-way method of communication.

The concept of authenticity seems to be the key of success for YouTube. Also, people want to produce their own media products, as with blogs and podcasts. Additionally, people have become used to deciding how and when they consume, and YouTube allows them this freedom. YouTube is successful for all of these reasons, because it serves our new consumer culture.

With the commercialization of YouTube and other video sharing sites, the concept of free video sharing is something to consider if you’re looking for a new way to communicate with your publics. If you haven’t already, go to www.youtube.com to check it out. Try a search for the kind of company you work for and see how others in your industry are using free video sharing. For example, when you type “real estate” in the search box, up come home tours (among other things). If you type in “retail” you get a range of items from presentations about innovative retail concepts and window dressing to tours of cities’ retail districts. Think of all the ways you could utilize free video sharing as a communications and marketing tool.

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