eBay exec: If you don’t use internal video for comms, ‘you’re left behind’

What was once a rare tool for executive webcasts is now available many times a week as eBay recognizes the medium’s value in internal communications.

Untitled Document This article was produced in partnership with Qumu.

It was video guy Ryan Burnham’s first day on the job at eBay—and departing Meg Whitman’s last, after serving as chief executive and a transition adviser for the new CEO.

At her sendoff, eBay hosted a multi-camera webcast, says Burnham, who oversees live webcasting and video production services under the Global Enterprise Technology department.

That was a rare event at eBay in 2008. Live webcasting was done by only a few business leaders—a total of four or five times a year.

Fast-forward to today. Video is an almost everyday tool for internal communications at eBay Inc., whose holdings include eBay.com, PayPal, StubHub, eBay Classifieds, and eBay Enterprise (formerly GSI Commerce). The company produces between three and 10 videos on demand per day, and it hosts two or three live webcasts per week.

Depending on employees’ organization within the eBay network, they tend to see a video at least once a week.

“Live webcasting, in particular, has become a huge communications driver for executives who oversee change,” Burnham says.

Through the lens

Burnham sees the entire business through the lens of a camera, he says. eBay Inc. webcasts all-hands meetings live, and staffers who miss the show can catch up at their convenience.

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The company increasingly is producing shorter videos that are less taxing on time than an hour long meeting. Some help staff to get to know other departments and see what they do day to day, Burnham says. The video series “PayPal in 90 Seconds,” for example, offers news from around the company.

Video offers a huge potential for the future, whether it’s a longer meeting or a promotional piece, Burnham says.

“It’s quick,” he says. “It’s conceivable. It’s digestible. It’s relevant. It’s focused. It’s all the things you’d want from a successful communication.”

Burnham is part of a small team that delivers internal live and on-demand video. eBay executives particularly appreciate the chance to speak directly to their staff through webcasts. Executive messaging doesn’t have to be so ambitious, though: Burnham also shoots quick interviews with leaders on topics pertinent to their workforce.

Information that used to be packaged for shareholders is now shared companywide, thanks to video. eBay webcasts a quarterly earnings call for investors, analysts, and interested parties in the media. But nowadays eBay offers such information internally as a live program for eBay employees. Those who missed the webcast can catch it later through the on-demand function.

Hear more from Burnham on how ebay uses video internally:

Reaching millennials

“When it comes to video at eBay,” Burnham says, “we take advantage of all of it, whether it’s promotional material for a product that we want to communicate internally, whether it’s an executive all hands or team meeting, or whether it’s just an interview that night be good to internally talk about it.”

Executives at eBay Inc. have seen the value in being able to use video to communicate live employees, Burnham says. The company relies on Qumu to provide live webcasting.

Video is especially important in reaching millennials, who make up an increasing portion of the workforce. The generation keeps adding more devices to their toolkit, Burnham notes.

“Video is a very popular communication for the way people live their normal lives,” he says. “Why wouldn’t they apply that to their business life as well?”

As cameras get smaller and production gets cheaper, the medium is becoming democratized, says Burnham. Today’s tiny video cameras can capture images and broadcast them via Wi-Fi. A company called GoPro makes a camera the size of a matchbox that records HD video.

“The trend I see is that video’s becoming more accessible, it’s becoming more an integrated part of people’s daily lives,” Burnham says, “and it’s got to be more an integrated part of their work life, too, to be productive.”

Like others, eBay sees its employees rushing pell-mell into mobile, and it’s expanding there. It increasingly has adopted user-generated video and plans to make it ubiquitous globally.

“In the 21st century,” Burnham says, “if you’re not using video as an internal communications tool, then you’re left behind.”



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