Video has long been an effective way to engage new and existing customers. And with today’s live video broadcasting, it has been kicked up 10 notches, says Hamilton business owner and marketing expert Shakira M. Brown.

Brown will share her experience with streaming media in an upcoming free webinar titled, “Broadcast Your Message to the World LIVE: Understanding Twitter’s Periscope App.” Sponsored by America’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the College of New Jersey, the webinar takes place Wednesday, April 27, from 1 to 2 p.m. Register online at sbdc.tcnj.edu. Anyone who registers for the webinar is eligible for 30 minutes of free counseling.

Attendees will learn why live broadcasting is a game changer for content marketing, how to use Twitter’s Periscope and other livestreaming tools such as Facebook Live and related tools, and how to build an audience following.

The cool thing about video streaming, says Brown, is that you can give your audience access to a live event they would not have otherwise. While using Periscope to stream a 2015 NAACP gala, Brown was able to respond in real time to questions the audience texted during the event. This level of engagement provides another layer to your marketing strategy, she says. After the event, you can upload the video to YouTube using a third-party app.

Since Periscope was publicly launched a little over a year ago, it has been a good choice for people interested in reaching mass audiences, and Facebook Live has been a popular tool for reaching existing followers, Brown says. But, she points out, media is evolving and changing all the time. Hoping to dominate other streaming services, Mark Zuckerberg recently announced Facebook Live’s new bundle of features. These include more interactivity between hosts and viewers, an online map of live videos, and a web hub. Regardless of which video tools you use, it’s all about engaging your customers, says Brown.

In addition to streaming live events, Brown offers several services through her company, SMB Strategic Media, including public relations, branding, content development, and social media management. “My focus is on providing affordable, quality PR,” she says.

Working with the College of New Jersey’s SBDC, Brown gives marketing webinars and presentations and also offers private counseling. Her recent presentation topics explore do-it-yourself public relations, business website mistakes, and letting your employees be your brand ambassadors.

SBDC’s counseling services cover just about any business topic there is, says Brown. You can get advice on operations, finance, real estate, and legal issues. You don’t have to join SBDC to use its services, which are offered to both business owners and employees for free or occasionally for a small fee.

In addition to business counseling, the TCNJ center offers several services including in-person and online training, business funding advice, and resources geared for women, veterans, students, and Spanish-speaking clients.

One of the popular SBDC events, says Brown, is the free networking business breakfast titled, “Mercer County: Keep It Local Networking.” Brown says attendees are encouraged to “shamelessly plug their business.” The next breakfast is Thursday, May 26, at 8:30 a.m. at Barnes & Noble, TCNJ Campus Town.

Brown’s interest in marketing grew out of her love for current events and broadcasting while she was attending grammar school in North Jersey. She says she was obsessed with learning about news and watched several stations. Her mother, chief administrator of a VA hospital, and her father, owner of a general contracting company, hoped she would earn a business degree after high school. But young Brown had other dreams and went on to study journalism and complete eight internships while earning her bachelor’s degree at Boston University.

During her internships and early career days, she was an NBC page, where she gave audience tours for 30 Rock; recruited audience members in Times Square for the Rosie O’Donnell Show; worked behind the scenes for ABC’s Prime Time with Diane Sawyer; and worked as an MSNBC news producer for more than three years.

After working in television production and later in corporate communications for several years, Brown decided it was time to run her own company. She launched SMB Strategic Media in 2005 as a “sidepreneur” out of her Hamilton home while continuing to work in the corporate world.

Her company has placed clients in major media outlets. Her website lists the Today Show, the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, Businessweek, Fortune, Forbes, the Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, New York magazine, USA Today, the New York Times, National Public Radio, and other outlets nationwide.

Her clients have included MSNBC.com; BET.com; the Gallup Poll; Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam and Phat Farm empire; Mort Walker, creator of Beetle Bailey comic strips; and Patrick McDonnell, the Princeton-based creator of Mutts comics, among many other businesses.

Quoting an article from Social Media Today, Brown says that 74 percent of consumers rely on these tools for buying decisions. “You’re missing out on business if you don’t use social media to attract and engage customers,” Brown says.

Brown’s career, she says, has been shaped by TV news. “Who knew that video would be so important for business owners today?”

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