How YouTube-like channels can boost your internal communication

Portals help communicators manage and improve access to videos created by and for employees.

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Your communications team is no doubt making an extra effort to produce video for many audiences: employees, customers, partners and investors.

With all this great video content coming out of communications and PR, how do you corral it all so that employees can find it when they need it and can watch videos and stay up to date on colleagues, new products and company messages?

Creating a video portal—like a YouTube or a Vimeo, but for internal audiences only—is a smart way to facilitate access to videos for employees and encourage more frequent viewing. Using a portal can help you control access to videos, as well as helping you track which videos are most popular.

The challenge for organizations is to create video portals that have tools that make them as easy to use as YouTube or Vimeo, but with elements that companies need in order to maintain privacy and control.

“YouTube has the right features for consumers, like playlists and social features,” says Paolo Tosolini, director of emerging media for RUN Studios in Kirkland, Washington, and a former manager of new media at Microsoft. “Enterprises have different requirements.”

RELATED: Download your FREE guide on “How to create videos employees love.” Learn to craft videos that captivate and engage employees.

For example, he says, they usually need secure access to videos so that they can be viewed only by internal audiences; they also have to set up workflows for approving and posting content.

“Different departments might want to brand their video pages in different ways,” Tosolini says. For these reasons, a video platform aimed at enterprises makes more sense than a wide-open YouTube channel.

Internal video portals allow for greater control

Allison Manning, a corporate communications specialist at Textron, a multi-industry company whose businesses include Bell Helicopter and Cessna, says her company has established what it calls ERIC TV, part of Textron’s Enterprise Research Information Center.

“It’s our internal YouTube,” Manning says. “It’s the watering hole for employee-driven content. We use ERIC TV for videos about product demos, to celebrate employee achievements and to highlight advice from company leaders.”

All of Textron’s internal videos are created by employees, Manning points out, so having a central repository for video helps highlight employee contributions. “As a company, we like to focus on continuous improvement,” she says.

The employee-generated videos can focus on best practices, so that everyone from accounting employees to manufacturing-floor workers can share ideas for doing their jobs better.

The plus side of having your own internal video portal, as opposed to just posting videos randomly on YouTube or the company intranet, is control, Manning says.

“We can take steps to publish content to just a few people at first, so they can review videos before making them available to everyone,” she says. “It’s good for quality control – we can make sure the audio is loud enough and that the visuals are clear.” In addition, Manning says, a portal enables her and her colleagues to get info about how often videos are viewed and which offices are viewing them.

A portal with checkpoints for approval can encourage organizations to obtain and use employee-generated video, says Todd Johnson, chairman of Kollective, which provides enterprise video platform applications under the Kontiki brand.

“To create a path for user-generated content, you need to manage governance around it,” Johnson says. “The portal helps you put these processes in place; this is more important than simply having a place to put all the videos. What you really need is role-based access and building a workflow that helps you approve content.”

Although video portals are helpful in extending the reach of employee-generated video, not all portals should house only those videos that are created by employees. At PepsiCo, the internal video portal is home to not just training videos and town-hall recaps, but also broadcast commercials and “sizzle reels” of Pepsi advertising from around the world.

“We want our employees to be ambassadors for the brand,” says Ed Gilbert, senior manager of global internal communications for Pepsi. By staying abreast of the company’s brand messages, employees can do a better job of promoting their company in their own interactions with friends and colleagues, he says.

Using an internal portal, Gilbert says, helps PepsiCo to manage sticky issues such as copyrights. For examples, Gilbert and his communications colleagues can remove broadcast commercials from the portals once an advertisement’s music rights have expired—a level of control they might not have if the videos were posted in random places on the company intranet, or were available in a public location such as YouTube.

Encouraging video consumption

At energy company Con Ed, communicators are launching CE TV, which will become the utility’s internal portal for an array of videos—covering everything from training to employee diversity initiatives. The twist at Con Ed is that the new portal will help populate 90 video monitors that are being placed all around the company’s New York area offices. Longer versions of the big-screen videos will also be posted on the Con Ed intranet, says Ann Cameron, the company’s director of creative services.

“On the screens, we’ll try to tell stories in 30 or 45 seconds,” Cameron says. “The screens will do the job of publicizing the videos. The screens have a lot of potential for allowing us to deliver corporate content and make it more easily accessible.”‘

With an internal video portal, Con Ed can do a better job of storing and pushing out content. It’s working to encourage departments to create videos of employees’ good work—for instance, how they’re resolving a power outage—and then use CE TV and the intranet to generate more video views.

“There are many small stories that are worth telling,” says Dave Driscoll, Con Ed’s unit manager of television production. Sharing stories of employees’ good work is one of the goals of CE TV, and communicators will be able to monitor which short-form stories on the big screens lead to more views via the intranet.

Tosolini suggests that when shopping for a video platform, communicators should choose one that works well with mobile devices. “You don’t just want to make it easy for mobile viewing, but you want to make it easy to create videos on your mobile device and upload them right away,” he says.

Kollective’s Johnson points out that a video platform isn’t just a storehouse for video—it can become a vehicle for making your business video-friendly in a way that will appeal to your most forward-thinking employees.

“We see many people underestimating how important video is in an enterprise—especially to millennials,” Johnson says. Attracting talent may indeed hinge on shifting away from traditional internal communications and toward video: “People care about what their company does, and they want to see it and share it.”

RELATED: Download your FREE guide on “How to create videos employees love.” Learn to craft videos that captivate and engage employees.

This article is in partnership with Kontiki.

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