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Al Roker Talks Brand Marketing at Inaugural Stream Con NYC

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Alongside the dozens of YouTube stars populating the opening day of Stream Con NYC—the East Coast's answer to California's VidCon—was Al Roker, the Today Show's avuncular co-host and weather man. Roker wasn't an odd fit, however, as his production company Al Roker Entertainment recently launched a division called Roker Labs devoted to emerging technologies and platforms.

Roker has worked with multiple brands on online campaigns, including Starbucks, Taco Bell, and St. Germain, and offered advice for connecting with online viewers.

(Al Roker Entertainment director of content marketing and digital strategy Jon Burk will be on hand at the Live Streaming Summit in Huntington Beach, California, in November, presenting some of Roker Labs’ research to answer the question “Who’s Winning at Live Streaming?”)

Know who the audience its, Roker said, and be clear on the message. Understand which platform—such as YouTube, Snapchat, or Vine—would be the best one to present that message. If it's a complex message, Vine's six-second clips might not be the best choice, he joked. His team can help find the right metrics for brands, he said, so they know they're reaching the people they want to reach.

"I think there's a lot out there, but you've got to find that right platform for your brand," Roker said.

While Roker likes live platforms such as Periscope and Meerkat, he compared them to television in the 1950s: Having someone simply talk to the screen is okay for a while, but it gets old. It's a good idea to bring some production to it. Mobile content needs to look polished nowadays, and even live streams should have a look to then

If the brand isn't edgy, don't try to be edgy for online viewers, Roker cautioned. Stay true to the brand. The most successful brands online simply extend who they are to an online audience.

"I appreciate a well-crafted message," Roker said. Tailor the brand message to the online platform. Help viewers fill a little time in their day by telling them something they didn't know. He recalled seeing long-form videos on screens in hotel elevators, and wondering why they were showing long stories in a place where people stood for 30 seconds at best. He wouldn't stick around to watch those videos finish, he said. "There may be people who do, and I feel badly for you."

"You've got to be true to yourself," Roker advised. "You know what you're going to see when you turn on the Today Show." People need to know who you are and what you stand for, he said.

For content creators just starting out, he cautioned them to be themselves. You don't want to be compared to someone or look like you're imitating someone, he said. Be a singular personality.

Stream Con NYC continues this weekend.

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