1. Start With a Talking Head—Start your viewer’s experience with some words from your CEO or other corporate leader, preferably speaking directly into the camera, and not looking as comfortable as s/he would like. Not!
SOLUTION: If you have to put in your CEO, try using snippets from him or her during a recent speech. These can be used to “voiceover” parts of your video so you are not spending a lot of time looking at someone’s head. Here’s an example in a USDA video
ANOTHER SOLUTION: If you’re leadership are really brave, and you’ve got a good writing team either in-house or with your production agency (and that’s a big if!), you could try what IBM successfully did with its Mainframe marketing launch. They spoofed The Office using their actual Vice President of Worldwide Sales. It’s still one of my favorite corporate vids of all time, and it garnered enough industry and mainstream press to skyrocket sales. As an added bonus, by showing the company’s hipper side, the video improved IBM’s employment brand, with increased high quality applications to jobs in the mainframe unit.
2. Avoid a Unifying Concept. If you really want to confuse your viewer, be sure to include 4 or 5 or 6 or even more main ideas in your video. Not! Three ideas is plenty. One is even better. A written script is essential (even when there is no voiceover), to map out the framing and delivery of your Main Idea.
SOLUTION: Here’s a great video from Facebook that starts with the concept of the Chair. The images are stark, beautifully composed, and devoid of the generic “b-roll” flavor of most corporate videos.
3. Make a Music Video – Everyone wants to use their favorite song as the score to their video. No problem! Except that you need to purchase the music “sync rights” and know how to direct and edit a music video—which is harder than it looks. Aside from choreographing every movement and person to a specific beat, you need to convey content that is relevant to your message.
SOLUTION: If you have a motivated staff person with the time to map out every move, then shooting your own music lip sync video can let everyone in the organization participate and have fun—which might in of itself achieve your communications goals. Here’s a really cute (although sometimes odd and sad) lip sync video by a retirement home that I think succeeds in showing they have spirit and might be a fun place to hang out
ANOTHER SOLUTION: If you have more complex goals to accomplish—like a training program—they you may need a professional team to help you map out the shoot and edit. This safety training piece I produced for a children’s hospital took quite a few weeks of planning, in order to tie in with a full training program. We shot a lot of it against green screen so as to include the maximum number of people without interfering with patients in the hospital. And yes we licensed the music for the correct usage rights.
Thanks for taking the time to consider three things to avoid when you make your next corporate video!