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Managing Video Content Types

Broadly speaking content within the enterprise can be almost anything, but I believe there are four basic areas of corporate video: Marketing, External Communications, Internal Communications and E-learning. Almost everything produced within an organization will fit into one of these categories, so let’s look deeper into the nature and issues related to each of these categories.

Marketing

This is the primary category – perhaps the only category –  of video within the enterprise for a lot of people. I don’t happen to agree, as I think it’s merely one part of a much broader program. One of the reasons it’s so central to some people’s thinking (and the easiest to read about across the web) is that it’s both the easiest category to explain to management and the one that fits best into an ROI discussion. I won’t bother to explain what Marketing means generally, but from a video perspective it’s a video type designed primarily to sell the organization’s capabilities and products.

This can take many different approaches from the very hard sell to the very soft, but there’s a pretty clear purpose to these videos and almost always direction from a marketing person or team to meet their needs. It’s a critical part of any corporate video effort and provides the team the best opportunity to demonstrate the value the department brings to the organization. Where an external agency may be brought in for big ticket productions like TV commercials, the in-house team will often be tapped to develop lower budget, smaller audience pieces. With new web- & mobile-driven distribution channels available at a fraction of the cost of TV & Radio ads, the internal team can really prove their worth by producing high quality marketing pieces for far less than the external vendors.

As I said, executives understand marketing budgets & ROI, and if they don’t get the value of a video program before you get involved in a formal marketing video, doing a great job on a marketing piece will go a long way to getting them to understand its value.

External Communications

I deliberately separated external communications from marketing to draw a line between video designed to sell and video that isn’t, or at least not obviously. Every video released to a public audience is in some way intended to deliver messages about the organization’s strengths; each piece will reveal something to outsiders about the company and it’s important to remember that before a piece is released. But again these videos are not designed as marketing tools, and the tone should reflect that.

Almost anything could fall into a “non-marketing” category, but I think there are certain regular types that appear across the enterprise universe:

  • Educational pieces – product demos & training videos
  • Executive communications – earnings calls, TV appearances, new product announcements
  • Staff communications – conference/paper presentations, expert testimony

Again it’s a broad category, but these pieces are designed more to inform than to sell. It’s important, particularly for the executive communications, to make absolutely certain the subject is presented in the best way possible. As I wrote about the Yahoo earnings call, someone on the video team should’ve made sure the CEO was presented in a way that made her seem natural, at ease and in command of the event.

These communications are a great opportunity to cross paths with influential people within the organization, and thus a great chance to sell the capabilities of the department. Make the CFO look great and you make an influential friend in the c-suite; help a senior manager make a great presentation at a conference and you ensure that she’ll recommend you to others and you can build a network of supporters across the organization.

Internal Communications

Nearest and dearest to my own heart, Internal Communications are often the most undervalued type of video production, and I would argue the most important. These productions are often devalued within the organization and by senior leadership because the audience for these pieces are already owned by the company. The assumption, often erroneous, is that the company’s employees already know everything there is to know about the organization. They’re getting paid, anyway, so why bother selling or marketing to them – their salaries and benefits should be enough to keep them motivated?

I think this misses some essential problems, most critically that all employees by definition understand the company, its purposes and its current strategies. Many employees in fact have little grasp on the broader picture and their place within it. During my stints managing the day to day video operations, every one of the rare executive communications saw tremendous traffic. The employees in fact are often desperate to hear from the company’s leadership as an opportunity to understand where things are and where they might be going. Obviously a video should not give away vital company secrets, but each video outreach is an opportunity to build morale, community feeling and a sense that leadership appreciates the part each employee plays within the organization.

Another problem missed by the assumption that employees know what’s going on is that each employee is part of a much broader network of family, friends and other contacts. You have a captive audience of potential salespeople – your 50, 500 or 5000 employees can spread the word far beyond the reach of your marketing & PR teams. In the very social environment we live in, why ignore the opportunity to get the company’s out via the employees? Make them excited about the company’s future and they’ll tell their networks. Your next employee, your next customer might be in those networks, and you’re missing a chance to reach them if you don’t communicate within your own organization.

The nature of these videos depends on the company and the leadership. Informal or formal, talking head or audience presentation, highly produced or low-budget – as long as the communications come out in my mantra of Regular, Frequent and Two-way these videos are critical to a corporate video program. If you take the additional step of allowing user-generated content, you have the makings of not only a very powerful communications tool to a key audience, but you’ve developed a tool for maintaining institutional memory and knowledge sharing.

E-learning

The last category is E-learning/online education, and may or may not fall under the corporate video team’s responsibilities. It’s often a dotted-line relationship to HR or a formal education department within the company. In almost all cases the educational content is developed by others – they have educational goals to meet, and the video should be designed to support those goals. They may include software demos, regulatory education requirements or continuing education.

It’s important for the video team to provide input during the planning process so concerns about user engagement and video production are balanced against the needs of the educators. I found with software demos, for example, that anything longer than 5 minutes was much harder on end users to process – halfway through a long program they couldn’t recall what they learned in the first 5 minutes. Breaking down a complicated software package into digestible steps and assembling them into a reference library often serves better than an hour walkthrough of every feature. It’s not always possible to focus on the user experience – Continuing Ed, for example, often has set requirements for program length that have to trump viewability. For e-learning, the video team should serve as an advisor to the educators, but the requirements will have to take precedence.

So there are my four broad areas of video within the enterprise – feel free to argue if you disagree, and comments are always welcome.

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