Bold Content How PR Professionals can Harness the Power of Documentary Storytelling

Documentary is the art of capturing real events to provide a visual report on a particular subject. It’s also an umbrella term; it can cover a multitude of different video types, from a corporate explainer film, to a case study, to an event video. This article will discuss the vast benefits a documentary can have in regards to a business or company’s public relations.

The most common type of documentary used with businesses is the corporate documentary. A corporate documentary is typically commissioned by the organization that it features. Its main objective is to ‘advertise without advertising’. While portraying the ‘reality’ of the organization, is intended to show the purpose, values, and people within the business.

PR benefits of a corporate documentary can be far-reaching. The process can also be a positive experience for the organization it features.

Still from pandora documentaries


There’s a certain style of filmmaking that has become synonymous with documentary – this is to capture an interview and use cutaway / b-roll shots to indicate what the person is talking about.

A corporate documentary is a little different; as its focus is an organisation or business, it can feature a number of things. This can include the products and services an organisation may offer, the community in which the company engages, or the people within the business.

The exciting thing about brand documentaries is the many different forms they can take. There’s huge potential to tell great stories whether they are in the form of branded content about a subject that is unrelated to your brand, or in a piece of integrated communication about your brand, your founder or a CSR strategy.

Human Element

A founder film or corporate documentary, like a documentary featuring an individual, can be very personal. If you choose to focus on the founder or CEO of a company, hearing their journey can be very inspiring and add a human element to your video. Showing an audience this reality can humanise your business and help consumers connect with your products or services.

Still from a recruitment video

Other PR Benefits

Done well, a business-focussed documentary can help build employee camaraderie and confidence, increase credibility towards your customers, and allows for self-reflection and the opportunity to improve your inner workings.

Corporate documentary reflects on the ethics of the company it features and thus can help with company identity: there is great benefit to knowing the values of the company you work for. Viewers will also be more likely to engage with the business because they can identify with common ideals.

Still from pandora

Positive PR

By sitting down with filmmakers to discuss your marketing goals, together you can determine how they can be aligned for high quality, non-fiction storytelling. This can open the door to content creation that can find new audiences, change perspectives, raise awareness, start a movement, and ultimately change lives.

The potential for positive PR – winning awards, film festival entries – should not be underestimated. The uplift in positive brand sentiment from a great short documentary film can be a powerful marketing tool.

Brands have to be brave enough to commission filmmakers with the remit of telling a good story. If they write a traditional brief they run the risk of inserting brand messages and diluting the story. Bland corporate messages and familiar testimonial videos lay down that path.

Especially in the B2B space where brands have traditionally relied on explainer videos, they now need to devote budget to making content that will reward the audience for watching. Content that will educate them, engage them, grab them and expand their worldview.

Still from a corporate video


The benefits of documentary to public relations can be far-reaching. A brand or corporate documentary can help to build employee camaraderie and confidence, increase credibility towards your consumer-base, and allows for self-reflection and the opportunity to improve inner workings. These types of videos, when they gain traction, can massively impact public opinion for your company. People are more likely to engage with a brand that has a story they relate to – a story that can be told through a documentary.