Why many corporate videos are so bad.
We all come from telly. That is to say, everyone we employ at Grist has worked in TV. When I worked in TV the term “corporate” was, well, an insult. If you said a story was “a bit corporate video” that wasn’t good.
If a corporate video starts, “MegaCorp enterprises are one of the worlds leading conglomerates, with offices in 97 countries. MegaCorp was founded in 1842 by Charles Dimwit…” then it is almost certainly really bad.
I’ve seen a thousand of these and have never watched to the end. NEVER. Partly because they are always 12 minutes long. 12 minutes! I’ll bet you the CEO of the company that paid a fortune for it never got to the end.
And partly because when I hear the sonorous voice of Mr Cheap Voice-over Artist, (I was a RADA you know) I can turn off secure in the knowledge that I can find out all the information in the video in 30 seconds from Wikipedia. There. Saved 11 minutes and 30 seconds of my limited lifespan.
The simple reason the “corporate video” fails is that it’s not doing any of the things that video is good at.
Video does two things really well, and one thing brilliantly.
The first thing video does well is storytelling.
In TV the first question is. “What’s the story?”
The opposite of a story is an essay. In TV they have many names. On Tomorrow’s World, where I started they were called “Important stories.” That meant worthy and dull. In News where Lindsay Grist started, they are called “Whither” stories. As in. “Whither Japan after the Tsunami?”
Dull, dull dull. No story.
The second thing video does well is reality.
Video shows you the real thing. The actual person. The mud on the boots.
The “corporate video” will have lots of shots of the outside of buildings, mines, tankers at sea and roads. But they’re just wallpaper.
A good video gets you close up to something.
The thing that video does brilliantly is emotion.
Even a weak story can be rescued by emotion. When people really care about stuff, and you ask them the right questions in the right way, their belief shines through. You can’t fake that. People often try by saying their passionate about ……….. (fill in name of industry) But they rarely fool anyone. But if you ARE passionate about something it’s obvious. You don’t have to say it.
So, what a video should have to be effective is a good story, be real and communicate emotion.
So, if you are CEO of MegaCorp and you want a film on the front page of your website that is good, what should you do?
1. Keep it short.
3 mins is good. We’re all busy.
2. Find a story.
You must know what you’re selling – ask Marketing.
Maybe it’s an attitude? Or excellence? How can we turn that in to a story?
Is it we have the best people? How can we tell the story of how we develop people to be the best.
There’s a story in there somewhere, trust me.
3. Get human beings to talk about what they care about.
Don’t get them to trot out dull information. We can put that in a caption. Get them to say they love their jobs, or how excited they are about their current project.
Then it will be worth the time to watch.