How The Rocky Mountain News Put Video SEO Hair On My Chest

How The Rocky Mountain News Put Video SEO Hair On My Chest

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Some people are saying newspapers are dying, but one of them gave me my own “birth” into online video marketing and video search optimization. I speak of the Rocky Mountain News, the oldest newspaper in Colorado, which published its final edition on Friday, February 27, 2009. Almost exactly 3 years earlier to the date, their media coverage on myself set me on the path to doing my first documentary video project– an “excellent mistake” that got me to where I am today in online video marketing for the masses.


Back in February 2005, The Rocky Mountain News interviewed me about a controversial academic and political figure, Ward Churchill, who I had a history with back when I was a college cartoonist for the University of Hawaii newspaper.That interview garnered enough attention for radio stations to be doing interviews with me (and even Rush Limbaugh’s own show to talk about my interview). That prompted one American Indian Culture Preservationistto persuade me to do a documentary video on Ward Churchill, that also covered controversies with free speech, academic freedom, and American Indian identity politics. I even hired a consultant for the project, Tony Montana (yes, his stage name), director of the critically acclaimed documentary film “Overnight.”

After many months of research and field work, gathering a skeleton crew (and whatever videographer I could find on Craigslist in the city I happened to be following my elusive prey), I came back with over a hundred hours of footage. Some of my interviews were of particularly notable figures, like Alan Dershowitz and Noam Chomsky. I also got the last interview ever done with the late American Indian scholar, Vine Deloria.

Add a number of events and forums, interviews with academics and activists and all across the country, plus confronting Ward Churchill in a back-and-forth debate in an online newspaper (first Ward Churchill blocking me from attending his speaking engagements, Ward Churchill threatening to sue me.  I thought all of this would be unique enough footage and a compelling enough story to land me a film deal, right?

Well, when it was time to show my film consultant all of my coverage, he reviewed everything and asked if he could just tell me bluntly what he thought. I said, sure. I remember his verdict to this day.

“Grant, I think you’re fucked.”

I was very surprised then, even though know I know exactly what he mean. A lot of my footage was poorly shot, and my audio in some spots sounded terrible. A good camera can’t make up for a person using it who doesn’t know what the hell they’re doing. No matter how great your ideas and your content in itself may be,  poor production can ruin everything. I made the mistake of thinking that it took a lot less knowledge and experience that I assumed, and that’s where I failed.

Of course, as a professional web designer and search optimization specialist, I should have thought things through better. How many times for many years before then did I have to tell clients not to be using consumer-grade desktop software (like Microsoft FrontPage) for building websites and expecting them to be search friendly? However, now I made the same mistake as they did; I expected that a tool would substitute for having a professional do the work for a job that required professionalism.

My mistake was particular costly financially, but I learned a tremendous amount from my mistakes – call them “excellent mistakes” – that I was able to apply when online video became accessible to a much larger consumer and business audience in the years to come. Now I could share everything that I had learned with my fellow online marketers about what mistakes to avoid with video production (based on my first-hand experience); and, I could share with both traditional and new media video producers on what they needed to know about the online marketing aspects, especially with what they needed to do to have their video perform well in the search engines and social media sites; plus making their content, skins, and publishing platforms as user-friendly as they needed to be for an online audience.

Now I didn’t get there right away, as you can see from my first video I put out even before I was a regular here at ReelSEO (done back in 2006). I’ve learned in this business that past failures can lead to not just new career opportunities, but major personal growth as well. (And not just “video SEO hair on your chest,” but that’s a nice start.)

And talk about a turn of events this week. The person who I did the documentary video on – Ward Churchill – yesterday spoke with Bill Ayers at my old alma matter, the University of Colorado at Boulder. Concidentally,  my video clips shows up in the top results of a Google search for them both, including the very top video on YouTube for a search on Ward Churchill himself. (Now how’s that for Video SEO hair on my chest?!)



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