In video, connecting is king

The secret to good video is forgetting about the old saw, “Content is king.” It’s important, but it’s not everything. Inspiring your audience is key.

This story is taken from Ragan’s distance-learning portal, Ragan Training. The site contains hundreds of hours of case studies, video presentations, and interactive courses. Click here for more on this session.

Sure, you may say, video’s great for some organizations—those selling party piñatas or roller coaster rides or Vegas vacations.

But what about boring old us at Acme Spreadsheets Inc.? How are we supposed to come up with kingly content?

Rocky Walls has heard such laments, and he is here to tell you that even businesses pushing products that seem less than thrilling can pull off great video, too. The secret is to forget about that old saw, “Content is king.”

“Content, although it’s important, is not as important as connecting,” Walls says.

As CEO of 12 Stars Media Productions, which consults with companies worldwide about video, Walls says in his Ragan Training session, “Content is jack; connecting is king. Let’s produce video that inspires action.”

Too many organizations are producing video content in the wrong ways—focusing on what they want to say and show, he says. Instead, concentrate on what will make connections between the viewer and the purpose of these videos.

In too many cases, Walls says, “the problem is that they don’t inspire us. They don’t reach out and grab us where we are.”

Start with the why

You know video’s big. Nielsen reports that YouTube reaches more adults ages 18-34 than any cable network, Walls says.

“We don’t have an option anymore,” he says. “We have to produce video.”

But how do you do that? Start with your purpose: to make a difference in people’s lives. Walls displays two overlapping circles on the screen. In the center of one are the words, “What am I saying?” The other reads, “Why does anyone care?”

That overlap is the area where your message has to land, he says.

The shipping news

As a case study, Walls cites Maersk Line (a client of his). Maersk is a shipping giant that does social media and video correctly, he says. It engages with employees and customers by “finding ways to connect with their audience, rather than just producing content.”

He cites a video, “Man overboard: The unlikely rescue of Tanawoot Pratoom of the Maersk Bintan,” in which the captain spoke about his fears upon learning that a ship painter was missing. The ship radioed nearby vessels and asked for help in the waning hours of the day.

“I was thinking that if we don’t find him in two, three hours, then I have to abandon [the search], because night time,” Capt. Mohammad E. Alahi says on the video. “It is very difficult, and I don’t know if he can survive to the next day.”

But they found the man and hauled him aboard after almost 10 hours in the sea.

This video clip is taken from the Ragan Training session, “Content is jack; connecting is king: Let’s produce video that inspires action.”

Now, imagine communicators brainstorming in a conference, and one says, “You know that guy who fell off a boat not so long ago? We should make a video about that.”

How many colleagues at organizations out there would cry, “What? Are you nuts? We’re not going to tell anybody that the guy fell off the boat!” Walls says.

But Maersk Line seized the opportunity to tell about its values, he says. Its motto is, “Your promises delivered.” It didn’t want to talk about containers and freight. The video speaks to company goals such as reliability, persistence, perseverance, and honor.

“We’re going to get there,” he says of the video’s message. “Everybody’s coming with us. We’re going to get your stuff where it needs to be.”

Glowing Mickey Mouse ears

Walls recalls that at a previous Ragan conference Disney’s social media director, Thomas Smith, gave the closing keynote presentation.

When Smith asked for questions, someone objected: “That’s great for you. You’ve got Mickey Mouse and princesses and castles. And what about the rest of us who are just pushing boring crap?”

Walls at first may seem to undermine his own argument by showing a Disney video titled, “‘Glow With the Show’ Ears Pulse With Technology.” The video depicts the technology behind the glowing mouse ears that Disney sells in its theme parks. The ears change colors during concerts or when you pass certain restaurants.

Walls asks his audience what the video is about. What, he says, does Disney sell? The answer: “Magic! Happiness!”

In other words, it’s the deeper message, not the product, that connects with the audience.

“You don’t have to have magic hats,” Walls says, adding that Disney “always, always, always know what their audience cares about. And that’s being happy.”


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