Employees are inundated with internal communications, such as email, intranets, social media or, most recently, video.
For the faces behind the camera, it’s easier to create a bad video than a good one. So, what makes a video great, rather than abysmal?
These 10 tips will help your organization’s communicators hit the sweet spot:
1. Know your goals. Though traditional metrics are important, you have to go beyond views and consider whether people are doing what you’ve asked them to do, says Annie Burt, institutional communications manager at Mayo Clinic.
“Were you looking for a behavior change or a cultural reinforcement? Were you looking for some sort of action to take place or for information to be shared? Based on what your goal was, [getting that desired action] is really the ultimate test of videos,” she says.
2. Consider your message. Before you create a video, make sure that’s the right medium for what you want to communicate. For example, if there is an organizational restructuring or major change in the offing at your organization, video wouldn’t be appropriate, says Jocelyn Sims, internal communications team lead at Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
“That’s a message you would want to have some face-to-face conversations about and one that requires the opportunity for questions and dialogue,” she says.
At Mayo Clinic, one rule of thumb is to pick up the camera when the team wants to breathe life into stories that are otherwise flat. Oh, and one more thing—don’t just feature talking heads.
3. Be brief. People are busy. Respect their time.
“If you give employees a 35-minute video, they’re going to lose interest pretty quickly,” says Scott Kallstrand, senior manager of internal communications at Jones Lang LaSalle. “It can be the most engaging video in the world, and they’re still going to fall off because they’ve got other things to do.”
Typically, the team at Jones Lang LaSalle should last for a minute or two. After two minutes, people stop watching.
“Make sure you get the full message across in two minutes versus five minutes, or whatever the time period is where you know people dive off,” he says.
4. Be authentic. Authenticity reigns for internal videos, because it gives organizations the opportunity to create a compelling and emotional connection.
For example, Mayo Clinic produced a video called “Miracle in the Cornfield,” featuring a patient sharing the story of a near-fatal farm accident. Throughout the video, which was shot in his home, you see photos of him throughout his life, and his friends talk about what it has been like for them, says Burt.
“You really understand, very subtly, that the patient is not on a stage or in a studio—we’re actually in his home and he’s telling his own story. Having the video subject describe in his own words whatever the story is, and creating that place where the story comes to life can really help to have a video hit home,” she says.
5. Think visually. Visuals add a human element to what might otherwise be hard-to-digest content. For example, a couple of years ago, Mayo Clinic announced a new strategic plan—the Mayo Effect—and then held a contest asking staffers to convey in a video what they thought about the plan. Here’s an example.
“We had 60 some video entrants, which is not a huge number for an organization of our size, but many of them were team entries, so we had 60 teams take the time to produce a video,” Burt says.
Employees voted on the videos by giving a one- to five-star rating based on the content.
“When it was all said and done, we had thousands of staff that were engaged because of these videos,” she says. “Even though there were only 60 submissions, our reach was thousands.”
6. Get equipped. Fortunately for many organizations, employee engagement videos don’t require feature-film quality. Equipment available today makes it easier for amateurs to create video.
When L.A. Care Health Plan started shooting video, they used iPhones, two DLSR cameras with video capabilities, and other basic equipment, says Hovsep Agop, video communications specialist. While shooting its Employee Pride Program videos, for example, the staff used humor, adopting a black-and-white silent movie theme to make the series engaging. It transcended what they had to shoot with.
These were low-budget projects, and the video specialist position didn’t yet exist, Agop says.
“We used the video equipment we had available: a home video camera and an iPhone,” Agop says. “To compensate for the unequal quality of this equipment, we used a black-and-white filter, effects, and royalty-free silent movie style music to tie in the actions and tell the story humorously.”
7. Tell a story. Know what story you want to tell, and convey it as quickly as possible and in the most engaging way you can.
“Videos should include a solid story arc and include genuine reflections and employee voices,” Sims says. “That means real people and real voices, not scrubbed scripts or canned speeches. You don’t necessarily need five people saying the same thing. You need one or two saying it really well.”
Mayo’s Burt suggests doing the research to understand what your audience is looking for.
“A video won’t solve all of your problems, and not everything we have to share is compelling just by its nature,” she says. “That doesn’t mean it’s not important, but it may not warrant a video to go with it.”
8. Use your assets. Once you’ve completed the video, maximize the packaging and use every relevant communication channel available to drive awareness and viewership, says Arati Randolph, senior vice president for corporate communications at Wells Fargo.
In videos that can be promoted internally and externally, share a news article on the company intranet, in external publications and through posts to social media, Randolph says. For internal videos at Wells Fargo, a “typical communications package includes an email invitation to watch before the event, a follow-up email from CEO John Stumpf, and a corresponding internal news article with instructions on how to view the archival recording.”
9. Have a plan. All videos should have a well-defined purpose and detailed plan before shooting begins. The more planning on the front end, the less confusion later.
It’s all about prep work so there are no surprises, says Kallstrand. He spends a lot of time scouting video locations for Jones Lang LaSalle, checking out factors such as ambient noise or where the best light is. “You shouldn’t just swipe your camera without having worked through all the essentials,” he says. “It really is about anticipating all the possible scenarios.”
That thoroughness shouldn’t stop with the end of shooting, Sims adds; there should also be a clear review process to get approvals.
“Make sure everyone understands the goal of the video and what feeling, emotion or takeaway you want to leave viewers with to help guide the process and scope,” she says.
10. Have fun. Above all, don’t take yourself too seriously, Burt advises.
“People are pretty forgiving, and it’s kind of fun with outtakes—employees like to see that. They like to see that their employer is real and that there are people behind what can sometimes be faceless corporate communications.”
This is the third and final article in a three-part content series on engaging employees through video. This series, in partnership with Kontiki, offers tips and ways to improve your internal video communication.
With more than 100 million videos delivered in more than 170 countries annually, Kontiki has enabled companies worldwide to achieve enterprise-wide reach and engagement on their existing infrastructure with its proven, simple, low-cost enterprise video platform.