Commentary

Corporate Video's Extreme Makeover

With the explosion in Internet video--news and entertainment, video ads, and 100 million user-generated video clips pouring onto YouTube--has the time arrived for the much-maligned corporate video to get an "extreme makeover"?

Or. as Peter Himler of Flatiron Communications observes, "why aren't corporate communications folks embracing digital video to the degree that their marketing communications counterparts have?"

Most corporations, despite the alluring and virtually instant platforms to create their own media, are not yet rushing to have their CEOs blog--let alone video blog or video podcast or create compelling on-demand video. While there are many notable exceptions on the blogging front--including CEOs from Dell, GM etc., constraints on time, concerns about over exposure, approval from legal, identifying resources to produce, questions regarding moderating comments and not wanting to get "burned"--as was the case in early examples of corporate blog--are just some of the reasons most are taking a pass on new media and new apps for video.

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While the time to be more "out there" with corporate video is coming more slowly than one would like, currently we're seeing more modest signs of change.

Steven Levy of Newsweek perceptively describes on Beet.TV how amateurs might once again take a back seat to a more professional approach to video production--"unlike blogs where anyone can sit around in their pajamas in a dimly lit room... vlogging involves a lot more elements--compelling content, production value and relevancy."

While vlogging might be a bit too avant-garde for most corporate types, how about a walking and talking executive in the bio section of Web sites, or turning the standard "about us" section of a Web site from clichéd text into an "ultimate video elevator pitch" that enables key audiences (e.g. investors/media etc) to truly get your differentiators? Similarly, for both internal and external communications, rather than an impersonal memo via e-mail, how about viewing your company's executive online talking about the latest events--an extension of what Sun Microsystems' chief executive, Jonathan Schwartz, recently requested from the SEC: that it allow him to post official company news for investors on his blog.

Here are three future applications of new corporate video to look out for:

  • Online recruiting: Companies such as law firms are starting to realize the power of branded video in capturing their story in order to recruit the very best attorneys.

  • Two-Way marketing: www.expotv.com is a platform for user-generated content in which consumers post video clips on experiences that they have had with a product--what the company's CEO calls the start of two-way marketing. Look for companies to increasingly get in on this act.

  • From the desktop: A Toronto based start-up, www.mDialogue.com, will be using Webcams to create a world in which every executive and/or analyst is empowered to be their own producer/editor of content, and within minutes will distribute it, for example over a corporate Intranet.

    It is high time for corporate communications executives to see video as more than a staid corporate video, infomercial or VNR (designed for possible placement in an increasingly less popular medium: television), and instead see it for what it has become: a new communications and branding vehicle delivered over the Internet, produced with substance, and with the authentic conversational style and brevity that Internet viewing demands.

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