Sunday, 23 October 2011

10 Things that would improve the effectiveness of most video projects.

Recently I've been asked to audit the use of video within one of my client companies.  Not so much the actual films they make, but the process. It's based on personal experience and the quality and effectiveness of the output.  I discovered (well, confirmed would be a better word) a few disconnects that occur when managers decide they need a video...

1.              Try to appreciate the target audience.  Have we ever asked them what they think? Did you tell the director?
How much do we really know about their world?  When did you last use a focus group of people outside the marketing department?

2.              The business managers are not always aware of the strengths of video.  Some still see it as just another information delivery channel.
Video is television. It’s as simple as that.  It’s a subtle and complex medium.  It’s very bad at conveying a lot of detailed information.  It's great at changing attitudes.

3.              Projects would benefit from a more robust pre-production process.
If we ask the right questions early on, we avoid making the same mistakes again and again, and we get the most out of each video.  Sometimes, the process for pre-production centers around “who is available”, and a “product set”.   It is more important to gain an understanding of what we need to achieve as a business, and how a compelling story will deliver this.

4.              Committees and con calls dilute the creative process by subjecting it to a vote. It helps to allow direction to take place by keeping the decision making to a very few people.

Movies and TV programmes have a single director for a reason.  In the creative industry, there are no single ‘correct ways’ to do it. So we must choose a vision and stick with it.  Movies have a single director for a reason.
5.              It is vital that we have a surrounding plan for the film. Sometimes there is no promotion, no roll out strategy and no measurement of effectiveness.

This is the most surprising aspect, and it shows that the business planning behind the video hasn’t taken place.  It has to fit in with a problem being solved. What are you trying to fix in the business?
6.              Do your research. Find out about what exists already within the company archives. What are the sales guys thinking?
This will help you to understand why there is a need for a video in the first place, and what the corporate culture is.  What problem are you fixing? What is the specific point you are trying to make?

7.              It helps to understand the creative process. Watch the good stuff to raise your awareness.
This is not the same as the production process - it happens before we decide to make a video.

8.              Contributors to videos are often chosen due to their seniority in the company, not their performance in front of the camera, or even their passion for the subject matter.

Let's allow the passion to get in front of the camera.  A clear and passionate pitch will always be remembered. The people who dreamed up a solution will fill the story with fascinating insight, and they'll deliver with vitality because their career depends on it.
9.              People become obsessed with running time. 
If the story is strong and vivid, running time is largely irrelevant. Remember - single concepts take very little time to demonstrate. And isn't that concept the one thing we need our audience to remember?

10.           Graphics can be a good way to illustrate a process, but there must be a story to start with.  Use them to illuminate, not to describe. They must be subject to the creative process also.

Simply writing out the key points turns this powerful and nuanced medium into little more than a slide presentation.

Don't ask people to read as well as listen. It dilutes both tasks.

I believe that there is no good or bad in corporate communications. There is only effective, and ineffective. Simple as.

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