One might think that laying out a company directive in black and white would be the clearest and most straightforward means of communicating.
Yet video has taken off as a means of communication for the very reason that it conveys the subtleties of messaging so well.
“Video offers multiple dimensions,” says Becky Graebe director of communications at the business analytics company SAS. “If you’re just reading the written word, it’s a little harder to interpret, but if you’re watching someone, and their words are combined with their gestures and their body movements and their expressions, it’s just a richer experience.”
Besides, different forms of content reach people in different ways. At times it can be easy to glance over a pithy email, but the visuals of video make it a great way to shake things up and make a greater impact.
“There’s a lot of value in switching the format that people receive content in,” says Cheryl Sansonetti, marketing director at Merkle Inc. “I receive 200 emails a day and I am reading through a lot of text, and the opportunity to change that up gets people’s attention.”
Here are some tips for successful video:
1. Capture their hearts and minds.
Recently, Intel produced an inspirational video for 500 of its top leaders internally, says Sabrina Stoffregen, global communication manager for the 5,000-person sales and marketing employees at Intel. The video celebrated Intel successes over the last 50 years and sought to inspire the leadership for the coming half-century. It helped leaders better understand how behaviors can amplify—or diminish—growth and vitality, she says.
The video’s central metaphor was the challenge of building the Golden Gate Bridge, Stoffregen says. “We wove a compelling story for the leadership team around their vital and irreplaceable role as bridge builders,” she says.
The message resonated profoundly with the leadership, suggesting several takeaways for video production:
- Stoffregen’s team took the time to understand what its leaders know about, care about, and want to hear, then crafted a narrative to resonate with their needs, she says.
- It’s not enough to get the facts right. Intel had to make an emotional connection as well, she says. By helping leaders see themselves as the “heroes” in the narrative, it fueled their enthusiasm to deliver on the call to action.
- The message authentically expressed the company’s values, engaged the audiences’ curiosity, and inspired leaders to get behind a shared purpose and vision.
“It was about capturing both the hearts and minds of our audience,” Stoffregen says.
2. Let employees post video selfies.
Before webcasts with the CEO, SAS has begun requesting that employees post video selfie questions for the boss. During the live webcast itself, preselected selfies are woven into the format, Graebe says.
For example, if someone has a question about artificial intelligence and what SAS doing in that field, employees can see that individual posing the question. Then it cuts to the live-cast. “We work it in ahead of time so that he can address them in the video,” Graebe says.
The webcasts are filmed before a small live audience of 25-30—all that can be squeezed into the studio space. Communicators also draw questions from SAS’s internal platform, The Hub.
3. Produce a weekly video ‘rewind.’
Every Friday, Metropolitan State University of Denver enlists an employee volunteer to describe the top articles posted on its “Early Bird” internal news site from the previous week, says Cathy Lucas, chief communications officer.
In the video series, called “Roadrunner Rewind” after the university’s mascot, MSU Denver seeks to get a broad representation of its employees: faculty, administrators and classified staff. They also get to highlight the programs they’re working on.
In a recent video, an employee working with the college assistance migrant program highlighted stories such as a call for story ideas, a trustee named to the Colorado Business Hall of Fame, and the faculty center for excellence.
4. Engage remote audiences with executive videos.
Folks at the home office might bump into top executives bustling down a corridor or at a town hall meeting. Elsewhere, the chances to see the executives face-to-face are rarer.
This is why there’s still a place for video of the senior leadership, whether storyboarded and scripted, or less formal. “Our communication surveys are showing us employees, especially out of the U.S., are enjoying the chance to see our executives,” Graebe says.
5. Conduct ‘man-on-the-street’ interviews.
You’ve seen the puffy-haired anchorperson from your local TV station interviewing passersby outside a train station or on a busy plaza. Why not take the same approach within your organization? Man-on-the-street interviews reveal what employees care about, Graebe says.
Perhaps these could be linked with answers by executives or specialists, offering a way to get at matters that are bugging your staff, or drawing forth ideas to put to use.
6. Tell the tale behind the sale.
In the end, profitability is all about persuading customers to write that check or type in their credit card number. So, how does a good salesperson make the sale?
SAS has a video short series called “The Tale Behind the Sale,” which informs viewers about a creative sales situation. The videos weave together comments from three to four people, each talking for 20-30 seconds, “letting the people who were involved in that tell it from their perspective,” Graebe says.
7. Allow employees to share video.
SAS employees can upload video to The Hub, just as one can to YouTube or other platforms. Employee-generated content carries an authenticity that can’t be replicated by the organizational voice, Graebe says. Employees know that it’s not just spin. “It’s also important to draw out all the voices that contribute to the success of the company, and that’s one way of doing that,” she says.
She adds that some communicators from other companies say, “Wait, you just let employees upload a photo, and it’s going to be on the home page, and you’re not going to review them, and there’s not going to be some approval?”
Precisely, she tells them. “There’s a level of trust that’s communicated that’s kind of an undercurrent,” she says. “And that’s what we want to be about.”
8. Appoint facilitators in local offices.
Merkle Inc., designates facilitators who act as point-persons to help people in local offices share video through the Dynamic Signal app, says marketing director Cheryl Sansonetti. These facilitators are staff members who contribute frequently and can encourage technophobes or shy colleagues to get involved.
People can upload to the platform straight from their phones, including an explanation of the content. The community manager tags and publishes the video. The same goes for events at which the company’s executives or experts are speaking.
“We find that people love to share what’s going on in the office culture, … to share, ‘Hey, this is our holiday office party,'” Sansonetti says.
This article is in partnership with Dynamic Signal.