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Airtime’s Current Non-Impact on Your PR Efforts
By: Mike Bush
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In case you missed the news, a startup named Airtime launched today that aims to layer the “interest graph” over video chat. Mashable describes Airtime as connecting people you do and don’t know based on a variety of interest (mutual friends, interests in common, etc.).

Practically speaking: a group of Red Sox fans can end up in a video chat discussing the team’s playoff chances this year, as well as lamenting the college player that the team just drafted.

Of course, any time a new potential broadcasting medium is launched, it’s important for flacks to take some notice (and this isn’t *just because* clients may call and ask what you think.) As Doug pointed out yesterday, more than ever, it’s important for us to be up on any pieces to the “Integrated PR” puzzle. And online video is becoming a larger and larger piece of the equation.

First a history lesson: Airtime was preceded by ChatRoulette, which was launched in 2009 and paired strangers around the globe for a discussion with another random ChatRoulette user. Much like Airtime, users could be “anonymous” (or at least as anonymous as a video of oneself allows).

However, ChatRoulette wasn’t first in trying to connect people via (somewhat anonymous) video chat. Paltalk (full disclosure, I flacked for Paltalk for a while), was creating online content that let the audience be interactive as far back as 2007.

Where Paltalk and Airtime differ is in the number of people you can have in a chat at once. Airtime is a one-to-one communications tool, and that’s where is severely limits the usefulness of the product for flacks like us.

Whether it’s a media briefing or an opportunity to connect an executive with a portion of  your community, it seems like Google Hangouts are probably the way to go right now. Google’s rollout of an “On Air” feature, which allows a chat of up to 10 people to be broadcast, really opens the door for executives of consumer facing companies to be more available and transparent than ever before.

As flacks, we need to know what types of interactions are being enabled for our clients and our executives. But while Airtime has a big name founder and a lot of funding in the bank, for right now, it’s a technology we don’t need to get too involved in.


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About the Author
Mike Bush is a PR and Marketing freelancer with more than a dozen years of experience in the field. Find him on and connect Twitter @mikebush or at www.mikebush.nyc. 
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