What’s Your Strategy for Video?

Strategic Video

Welcome. I'm Neil Scott, President of The Edge Communications, a video production company based in Calgary, Alberta. I created this blog to invite a dialogue about the ways that businesses and organizations can use corporate video to their best advantage.

It’s all about strategy.

A successful video begins long before the shooting. It starts by establishing a clear message for a specific intended audience. It starts with informed questions to determine the project scope and the resources you’ll need—time, people, and money.

With the growth of social media and the explosion of online video, it’s crucial to create videos that rise above the clutter. "Ready, fire, then aim" is a risky strategy when your business reputation is at stake.

With a solid strategy in place before production starts, you can ensure that every word and every shot counts—and every dollar is well spent.

I welcome your comments and feedback.

Neil Scott, President, The Edge Communications Inc.

Best Production Practices

Leverage Your Brand by Entertaining Your Audience

The author at racing school

Ever since I was a kid I’ve had a thing about cars.  My family will tell you that as a kid I would constantly play with toy cars, sing about cars and be captivated by cars. Racing and sports cars remain a true passion for me and I still have a particular weakness for the fast ones.

Videos that tap into a shared passion can be powerful in bringing customers to relate more closely with an organization’s brand. From a marketing perspective, branded-entertainment videos are designed to entertain while the brand takes the back seat (so to speak).  It’s an unconventional way to put an organization’s services and products in front of the customer. It is powerful nevertheless, because you’re connecting your brand to a great story that connects with the most powerful passions your viewers have, like a passion for cars.

Through my involvement in car clubs and car shows I’ve learned that many classic car owners are business owners or hold executive management roles in their organizations. They are key decision makers.  With the concept of branded-entertainment and our target audience in mind, we decided to create a branded-entertainment video for The Edge.

The classic sports car I currently own, and the star of our video is a 1972 Jaguar E-Type coupe. Enzo Ferrari called it “The most beautiful car ever made.” It’s sleek and powerful.  And as Austin Powers would say: “It’s shagadelic baby!” We want the viewers of this video to connect the value proposition of this car to the value proposition of working with my company, The Edge.

This video has been one of the most organically shared videos we’ve made to date. To see how we captivated car lovers, you’ll have to watch the video. If you like it, share it!


Avoid Common Mistakes

Webcasts Not Worth Watching

I couldn’t stand it any longer. I bailed.

A few weeks back, I signed up to view a webcast on a topic I was very interested in. I tried really hard to watch it and to be engaged….but five minutes was all I could handle.

What could possibly have been so bad?

Hmmmm…where to start? Well, the screen size on the website was too small, so I expanded the view…..but the resolution was not enough to support a full screen view. Hmmmm….forced to watch on a tiny screen. That would normally not be too bad, but this webcast had only one camera to cover a panel of six people and a very large screen for their power-point slides. It was static wide camera shot. Everything was very tiny in that tiny screen.  It’s really hard to be engaged by a speaker when you can’t see their face because it’s so blurry. And frequently a speaker would say: “As you can see on my power-point….” No I couldn’t. The screen was over-exposed and was almost white. Anything I might have been able to read was in such tiny text that I couldn’t see it on my tiny screen.

The most surprising part of this story is that the webcast was from a live conference on streaming video and television on the web.

Are you thinking of putting together a live webcast? Are you looking at what you should budget? The things you need to invest in FIRST are those things that create ENGAGEMENT. Consider these tools to engagement:

  • Do you have great STORIES and great CONTENT to share? Are they appropriate for your AUDIENCE?
  • Have you PROMOTED your webcast in advance? Nothing is worse than going to a ton of effort and expense for two viewers.
  • Can the viewers on the web SEE and HEAR all of the content you want them to? Do presenters and Q&A participants have proper microphones on them? Are graphics and slides readable?
  • Can you see a CLOSE UP shot of the person speaking? Seeing the expression of the person speaking is crucial for engagement.
  • Have you provided online ENGAGEMENT TOOLS to your audience such as the ability to ask questions and chat online?
  • Are you directing your viewers to resources that provide them with MORE INFORMATION?

Anything less, any less engagement and you’re taking a risk of wasting your investment and possibly damaging your reputation. The impression I was left with from the organization that did the poor webcast wasn’t very good. I’m not really interested in viewing future webcasts or going to their conferences because they just didn’t do a great job of getting me to stick with them.

So, before you spend a dollar on your next webcast, it’s worth spending some time to think about how you’ll keep your viewers by keeping them engaged.

Avoid Common Mistakes

Become a Video Production Expert in 2 Hours?

For a few weeks now, I’ve been receiving e-mails from a well-known PR consultant promoting the idea that anyone can become a video-production expert in just two hours. Consumer-level video cameras and editing software have become increasingly affordable and user-friendly. Imagine the money you could save by turning members of your staff into corporate video producers for your organization.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, giving an employee some technical tools and basic video-making instruction does not make that person a videographer—any more than giving me a hammer and a saw makes me a carpenter. That’s something I learned last year when I discovered the front porch steps and railings on my home were rotting out.

How hard could it be to replace six steps? I bought some lumber and started to cut the stairs and support stringers. As I began to assemble the pieces, I realized the ground under the bottom step was a little uneven. Hmmm . . . I would just trim a little here and there to make them flush. . .  After a lot of bad cuts, I realized I needed to work the angles. How I wished I had one of those laser-guided mitre saws to improve my cuts!

I made a decent job of those stairs in the end, but it took me 40 hours—more than six hours per step! A professional could have done it in a single afternoon. Yes, it would have cost me some money, but I would have saved a week of my time for doing more important things . . . things I’m genuinely good at, like making professional-quality corporate video.

Before turning yourself or members of your busy team into amateur video producers, first consider: is this the best use of your time, of their time? Creating video may seem straightforward, but what if you encounter unexpected obstacles—like the uneven ground beneath my front steps? What if your consumer-level tools can’t produce the professional quality you and your customers expect? What about your corporate reputation?

Sadly, I’ve seen a lot of dreadful content created by well-meaning employees: footage with poor sound, colour, or cuts; content that is woefully off-message for the organization.

Beware of plunging your staff into what I call the “inverse learning curve.” Picture a steep learning curve; now turn it upside-down. While trying to master a complex problem in an entirely new realm of work, your people can disappear into a “black hole” of problem solving. Having only the most basic training, they may lack the skills and time to find their way out. This can be a stressful and unpleasant experience for everyone involved.

We hear that a lot from clients who come to The Edge Communications after trying to make their own video. It’s been said that it takes 10,000 hours to truly master any skill, and video making comprises multiple skills: scriptwriting, videography, editing, and the creation of video graphics. It’s a technical craft, an artistic craft—engaging viewers with the art of storytelling—and a strategic craft rolled into one.

It’s setting the bar just a bit high to expect amateur video producers to pick all that up in just two hours. Much the same could be said of carpentry. And I’ve learned my lesson there: the next time the deck needs repair, I’m calling a professional.

Overcoming Obstacles

Cost-Effective Professional Video

Neil Scott, President of The Edge Communications discusses how to get cost-effective professionally produced video for your organization. Click on the above link to see the video: