3 all-too-common killers of corporate videos

Three hundred hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Here are three reasons why many go unwatched—and how to make sure yours stand out.

Well-executed corporate videos can attract and retain enthusiastic audiences.

Done poorly, though, they will send potential viewers fleeing in droves.

Bad audio, poor camera work and unflattering lighting are typical of amateur videos. Yet corporate videos usually suffer from entirely different flaws. Here are three of the most common:

1. Playing politics. Veteran video producer Guy Bauer believes PR people often factor internal politics into their decisions about whom to put on camera, rather than determining who will deliver the most engaging message.

“When you stack the deck full of important people who don’t have subject matter expertise, are you really going to tell a compelling story?” he asks. “And do you really need to interview nine people to tell a two- to three-minute story?”

The problem isn’t limited to agencies that must pander to clients, he says. In-house communicators can face intense pressure to appease bosses and execs by showcasing them in front of the camera lens. Here are several solutions:

  • Follow the one-minute rule. “There should be no more than one person interviewed per minute of finished video,” Bauer says. “Interview no more than three people if you’re targeting three minutes of video runtime.”
  • Pick storytellers. Bauer recommends using people who might not be the most important in your company, but who will tell the best story. “You need to be brutally honest,” he says. “Only use the few people you need to bring the story to life.”
  • Stick big egos on b-roll. “If you must soothe executive egos, feature them in the b-roll,” Bauer says. “That can be posted to your intranet or website, but withheld from social media.”

Here is a video that Bauer made for EMC. “Their team is huge,” he says, “but is this video any less effective because there aren’t eight people interviewed?”

Register for PR Daily’s Dec. 9 virtual summit “Create Amazing Videos Virtual Summit: New Ways to Attract Audiences with Video, Live Streaming and VR” for more tips from video experts Guy Bauer, Drew Keller, Zynara Ng (YouTube) and Shanda Maloney (UFC).

2. Not investing in decent equipment. Sure, you can shoot video with your iPhone. However, superior equipment results in higher-quality videos that are more likely to be shared online.

That doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. Bauer recommends the following low-cost equipment options:

  • Camera: Canon 70D with 18-135mm lens ($1,200)
  • Tripod: Magnus VT-4000 ($149)
  • Microphone: RodeLink Wireless Filmmaker kit ($399)
  • Editing software: Adobe Premiere Pro ($19.99/month)
  • Light: LitePanels Astra 1×1 Bi-Color LED panel ($1,350)

3. Fixating on SEO. “Communicators focus too much on SEO when it comes to titling videos and writing descriptions,” Bauer says. “The result is they end up writing for robots, not actual humans. That hurts their organic reach in the long run.”

His solution: “Put yourself in the shoes of your customer. What title and description will help them solve your customer’s problem? What keywords will help them out?”

His website, for example, ranks second for “video production Chicago.”

“People do double-takes when I say we’ve done zero SEO,” Bauer says. “We just write copy for actual humans to read, and we’re not trying to outsmart a search engine bot.”

Brian Pittman is a Ragan Communications consultant and webinar manager for PR Daily’s PR University. Video experts Drew Keller, Guy Bauer, Zynara Ng (YouTube) and Shanda Maloney (UFC) will share more tips in PR University’s Dec. 9 virtual summit, “Create Amazing Videos Virtual Summit: New Ways to Attract Audiences with Video, Live Streaming and VR.”

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