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Chuck Cumming, senior editor at 20/20 Productions Europe Ltd, discusses why video is an important tool for the internal communicator, and how technology advances have made it much easier to incorporate into your activities.

It all started with an elephant…

Ten years ago Jawed Karim uploaded the first video to a new site that no one had heard of yet, called YouTube. It was a short, twenty-second video about his day at the zoo; he didn’t have much to say, mostly he liked that elephants have long trunks. However, those 550 or so frames of digital video would be the starting gun that began a revolution in how people across the globe, consume media, learn, and express their opinions. From its small beginnings with a video about a pachyderm, to where it is now, with over one billion individual users, YouTube and digital video is arguably one of the greatest success stories of the web.

With the improvements to infrastructure, the increase of reliable broadband and smartphone technology, online video is accessible to audiences in a way that broadcast television isn’t. On demand, highly specific to their interests and available anywhere there’s an Internet connection; viewers are turning away from traditional media for their content. The 13-24 year old demographic are now watching more video online than television and, importantly, now say that YouTubers have more influence over their decision making than TV or movie stars. Also, nearly 70% of Millennials surveyed by Google feel that they can find a video on anything they might want to learn.

If you haven’t thought about video as an internal communications tool, it’s those last few points that really should persuade you to consider it.

Generation Z has arrived.

People born in the mid 90s have grown up with immediate access to digital video online since they started high school. They will choose this over broadcast media for getting opinions, news, learning and being entertained. They expect to see this kind of content being available and they pay attention to it when they see it. It’s this generation that’s now starting to knock on your door as future employees.

It’s for good reason that they expect video content. The clear benefit of video is a face-to-face-like direct communication. In Chris Anderson’s 2010 TED Talk about the power of online video to inspire global innovation (essential viewing for communicators by the way!), he talks about how this has been “fine-tuned by millions of years of evolution”. We understand intention, meaning and sincerity just by looking at someone speak. Being able to instantly convey your tone and belief in a message directly to a viewer makes video an immensely powerful addition to the communications tool kit.

It engages and holds attention in ways that printed or other digital communication just can’t replicate and, when put in conjunction with those channels, multiplies the power of your message. So to ignore video in the communications mix, especially in light of the media-savvy-digital-video-watching-post-millennial employees that will be arriving, it’s probably going to see you at a disadvantage when trying to engage your people.

Tell your stories…

Think of all the great work that your people do. Is something worthy of praise? Did someone achieve in a way that needs to be recognised? Or perhaps the organisation has gone above and beyond in some way or other. These are all perfect for a video communication. Videos create conversations as well as inform; think about what you want your people to talk about and make content that will start those discussions. Perhaps there’s a need for education about your organisation’s aims and goals, for example? Seeing leadership talk honestly and openly will go much further then just reading it in an email or an intranet page.

Perhaps you just want to create a sense of participation or involvement. Is something happening today that you thought created team spirit, or exemplified why your people are great…? Get your phone out and film it! With services like Periscope and Meerkat, if you want the rest of the world to see, you could even stream it live directly from your phone and publish the link on Twitter!

So what now? Phone Hollywood?

Fortunately though, thanks to the explosion of online video and the ease of content hosting, every smartphone and electronics manufacturer from Apple to Sony are falling over themselves to make it ridiculously easy to capture, edit and upload content. What would have taken specialist knowledge only a few years ago, can now be accomplished from your mobile phone with a couple of screen taps and a 4G signal.

With a creative idea and a good message, you can become your own content creation studio. It doesn’t take that much up-skilling to learn how to be competent enough to produce an acceptably professional and effective piece to camera or interview style videos. Just type “how to film an interview” into YouTube and go from there!

You don’t even need to spend a fortune on equipment too. Video cameras small enough to fit in a pocket, as well as stills cameras, are capable of shooting high definition, near film quality footage. Some will even film in the new emerging 4k video formats. Even smartphones now have HD capable cameras that produce results in good light.

Editing your footage is easier and cheaper than before too. Many packages are available on both Apple and Windows machines - from zero cost, open source software to professional level, industry standard software, you will find something that suits your budget. Again, the user friendliness of this software is light years ahead of where it was even a year ago. If you are not sure what to do, there are countless hours of tutorials online in the form of, guess what… digital video.

At some point though, you are going to come up against a communication challenge that really demands a professional touch, or is perhaps outside of your skills and time budget. That’s when you call people like us, who will be more then happy to turn your communications into exceptional videos. The good news is that all the technology and ease of use advancement that I talked about above has also been happening in the production world. Ultimately, this has translated into professional video production at a competitive price. Beautiful films, creatively inspiring animation and 3D motion graphics are all now within the budget of internal communications. For example, currently we work with a client that shoots all their own material, but then employs us to create a fifteen-minute, monthly news programme circulated to their entire staff through their own media platform. This blend of self-script and shoot with professional post production assistance has given them a broadcast quality news show on a budget, with a huge benefit in terms of employee engagement and awareness.

So there you go, this is the video revolution. It’s all there for you to get creative with. If you get stuck… there’ll be a tutorial on YouTube no doubt!

20/20 Productions Europe Ltd
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