Posts Tagged ‘video marketing’

NY Times Highlights Subject of Film Produced by V&V’s Principals

June 5, 2013

Having started filming the documentary Delicious Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee Bean back in 2006, the JEMGLO production team was excited to see The New York Times today refer to the cooperative of Christian, Jewish and Muslim coffee farmers who comprise the documentary subject. The principals of JEMGLO, producer/writer Ellen Friedland director/DP/cinematographer Curt Fissel, are also the principals of Voices and Visions.

Highlighted in the Food section, the Times noted that “J.J. Keki, a Jewish Ugandan coffee farmer…enlisted Christian, Jewish and Muslim farmers to form a coffee cooperative. The result: Delicious Peace Coffee (Mirembe Kawomera), which comes in a nutty-tasting light roast, a rich dark roast and decaffeinated.” The Times’ mention coincided with the launch of a Smithsonian Folkways recording on CD produced by Rabbi Jeffrey Summit of 16 songs by the farmers titled Delicious Peace: Coffee, Music and Interfaith Harmony in Uganda. 

The first version of the documentary, narrated by actor Ed O’Neill, was released in 2010 and screened at over 35 film festivals internationally, including many prestigious festivals, and won a number of meaningful awards. This past March Ellen, Curt and several additional members of a production team, returned for a fifth trip to the cooperative to videotape updates (link to the blog), including a qualitatively improved standard of living thanks in large measure to Fair Trade wages paid to the farmers by their coffee buying partner, Thanksgiving Coffee Company.

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The documentary is available to educational institutions through the Video Project. In addition, socially-conscious media company Specialty Studios is distributing Delicious Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee Bean by organizing Delicious Peace Parties where the film is screened and Fair Trade coffee and chocolate are enjoyed. Please contact them for more information!

YouTube, SEO & Other Video Data

May 15, 2013

My email and LinkedIn group inboxes are constantly flooded with the latest information concerning every aspect of video. While often the information falls into the common sense category, sometimes I see data that piques my interest. Two such summaries came across my screen this week, one focused on YouTube’s algorithm for ranking video and the other containing an infographic with more off-beat statistics concerning the use of video by marketers and advertisers.

Several months ago the Official Youtube Content Partners and Creators blog announced that it would rank videos based on the extent to which viewers actually watch them rather than simply the number of clicks any given video receives. The blog noted that the company wants to “reward engaging videos that keep viewers watching.” This approach is consistent with the SEO focus of Google (which owns Youtube) on substantive content on websites.

This information interlaces with the infographic, posted by Larry Thomas on the Latergy Social Video Channel. According to a recent study by videoexplainers published by visual.ly, videos that are over one minute in length produce more click-through rates than shorter videos, except for videos that are 15 seconds or less. Videos that fall into the category of 16 to 60 seconds in length are 41% less effective than videos that are over a minute.

So putting these pieces of information together: Though it is commonplace today to lament the lack of attention span across wide swathes of the population, it seems that many folks out there are actually interested in more substantive content and are watching it in video form — and Google/Youtube is rewarding those producers.

My advice: Short sound bite videos (particularly those under 15 seconds) containing clear, articulated information are impactful (153% more effective in terms of click-through rates than videos between 16-60 seconds, according to the infographic) and should be included – in multiples – as part of an online video strategy. But they should be anchored to longer, content-filled videos. Of course, “longer” is a relative word, and it does not have the same meaning as “long.” An examination last year of Youtube codes seeking the length of the top 950 viewed videos on Youtube determined that the ideal length in terms of audience engagement (other than for music videos) is 2.5 minutes. That sounds about right to me. If the content is interesting, I think it is okay to stretch the timeline a bit. If there is more to say after that, it is, in my opinion, time for another video.

Two other interesting statistics that came out of the infographic:

  1. 4 in 10 social videos are humorous and viewers of those videos are more than three times as likely to click to a brand’s Facebook page than viewers of non-humorous videos.
  2. Celebrity videos drive 12% fewer visits to brands’ Facebook pages than non-celebrity videos.

My takeaways? Comedy over celebrities, and make sure your video budgets reflect the outcomes you are seeking.

Using an In-House Video Studio to Respond to Industry Current Events

February 20, 2013

Outside of the news industry, corporations are not broadcasting stations with staff positioned in key locations or contracts with international wire services, set up to report on current events as they unfold. Yet unending waves of news events are filled with stories that affect different companies in myriad ways, and responses by those entities have potential public relations value. How can a corporation ensure it is a valued commentator of relevant news as it happens?

For many companies, press releases or other textual documents are the fastest way to respond. Say, for instance, the Supreme Court issues an opinion about tax law. A large law firm with a tax department might want to post information explaining the impact of the decision. Time would be of the essence, since the case is fresh on the minds of folks in the target audience and because it is always better to beat competitors to the information landscape. The speediest approach might involve an expert in the department writing some text responding to the decision, then posting it on the website immediately.

Yet this is the era when more folks watch than read. Yet again, producing a video response generally entails hiring a corporate video production company, finding a mutually agreed upon date for the shoot, then waiting for post-production to be completed, approved, and electronically sent to the folks who will be posting it. ZZZZZZzzzzzz…. (That’s the time window sizzling out.)

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Model of a Video Studio V&V is designing for EisnerAmper

An in-house corporate video production studio is the perfect solution for this challenge. The type of studio envisioned would be designed and set up by a video professional, who would help the company purchase and place the lights, camera(s), microphones, backdrops, and other equipment in stationery spots that have been pre-tested to generate the best quality video. In the hypothetical example cited above, the tax lawyer charged with responding to the consequences of the Supreme Court decision would go into the studio and sit on a chair around which the gear has been pre-arranged by the video professional. Someone on staff, perhaps in the IT department, would be trained on usage of the equipment, so he or she could simply turn on the lights, clip on the microphone then put it in the “on” position, and start the camera(s) rolling.

This type of video would entail very little editing. It would generally consist solely of a fade up from black at the beginning and a fade down at the end, a title card, perhaps a few graphics underscoring key points, and occasional transition devices if the presentation requires a few cuts. An employee at the firm with basic editing skills might be able to do the job. Alternatively, the firm could outsource these minor clips to a corporate video production company, signing an agreement that provides for the need for immediate turnaround. This latter solution would also ensure that adjustments could be made in color correction and audio sweetening for any production missteps (such as a failure to fine-tune lights for a person taller or shorter than the average for which the lights were pre-set).  Since the type of editing involved is basic, the editing costs should be affordable.

As video overshadows other types of communication avenues on the web, embracing this format becomes increasingly advantageous. The key is to find ways to do that while maintaining a commitment to quality reflective of the company that posts the clips. A professionally designed in-house video production studio is a very good mechanism. It has value for many types of videos — among them, responses to current events that put the corporation at the forefront of information and action.

Designing In-House Corporate Video Studios

February 11, 2013

An in-house corporate video studio sans extra hires: the perfect solution for a constant and affordable flow of new video content with a professional look.

A little over a year ago Cisco predicted that within three years (now one and three quarters) all Internet traffic will be video. While that may be an overly ambitious timeline, there is no question that video is overtaking the web as the communication vehicle through which companies are (and increasingly will be) required to express themselves. It is also by now recognized that the DIY videos that seemed acceptable when Youtube first burst on the scene in 2005 are not professional reflections of the entities they represent. These facts are part of the larger shifting landscape of corporate messaging, mandating creative responses and re-created budgetary line items.

Among the most resourceful recent solutions to this conundrum on which we have had the opportunity to work came at the request of our client EisnerAmper, one of the largest accounting firms in the US, with almost 1,300 employees. Working with clients hailing from a broad spectrum of industries and providing a range of services, EisnerAmper has unlimited topics to discuss on a regular basis, for which ever-new online video posts would be a great asset.  When their expansion induced them to move their New Jersey headquarters into a new space subject to complete redesign, they contacted us about helping them build a studio for the purpose of recording simple sound bite videos as frequently as desired, then turning them around for rapid posting to their website and other online sites.

Basic keys to success of this project included designing the space effectively and efficiently; properly laying out the IT, lighting, audio and other technical needs; identifying high-end equipment on which non-professionals can be trained; and providing the training. The exercise requires a combined knowledge of professional cinematography with relevant engineering and architectural understanding.
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Our VP Curt Fissel met with the EisnerAmper marketing team to determine their wish list of video needs and goals within the context of the available space dimensions. He also spoke with the project manager and architect. Curt is our Director of Photography and Senior Editor. At heart, he is an artist and a complex model builder, so the opportunity to work on the video studio enabled him to combine a lifetime of personal strengths. Curt used a soft polymer clay that hardens when baked to design a model of the room to scale. Even the tiniest details were highlighted in the model he created, such as the precise placement of the electrical outlets on the walls and the track lighting across the ceiling. Curt then photographed the model from many angles, pasting the images into a document onto which he wrote technical explanations of the requirements.

As the project moves forward, Curt will be available for ensuing needs, such as helping EisnerAmper choose appropriate equipment; configure all the studio elements to enable the production of optimum appearance; and teach staff who will be assigned to this job how to use the gear, which is intended to stay locked into place. Upon the conclusion of videotaping, EisnerAmper will have the ability to edit the material in-house or upload it to a cloud accessible by an off-site editor.

The video studio will enable EisnerAmper to produce and post constantly changing, simple and professional-looking talking-head videos responsive to the news of the day or even the hour, as well as a litany of additional information the firm would like to share – all at no extra cost for field (and possibly post) production once the set-up is in place. While their totality of video needs will also undoubtedly require more complex productions utilizing the help of professional corporate video producers, the use of the studio will ensure that EisnerAmper is at the lead of the pack of businesses as the Cisco-like predictions regarding the proliferation of video grow into the reality.

Corporate Video: Endless Stories

January 31, 2013

When I got into the corporate video business over 15 years ago, clients wanted productions that were informational in content. They sought videos that would outline the work of the organization in all – or at least most – of its elements, even when the details required 12 minutes to roll out. Whether the video was to be used for marketing, HR or other purposes, an objective presentation of the nature of the entity was the fashion of the day

That tendency mirrored the appearance projected by news outlets at that time. Remember when the “fourth estate” was all about fair and balanced portrayals of facts based on research and widespread interviews with folks taking a diversity of positions?

Times have changed, and social media has played a critical role in this new world of information presentation. Today news correspondents can take the form of activists on the front lines of a revolt tweeting their eyewitness accounts on their smartphones in 140 characters at a time, reporting from the spots where they stand, unaware of the battle looming around the corner. Subjective by definition, they may nonetheless have more followers than nightly news stations, in large measure because audiences today are attracted to individual stories – real people, real events, real drama, real emotion.  The storytelling methodology resonates.

(One example of such a “story” we told through a video we produced for private equity client, The Riverside Company)

And it has influenced corporate video production. That extensive informational video style is passé. It has been replaced with short stories, endless short stories, each of which can stand on its own in a video or be grouped with others, depending upon a variety of factors including length of time needed to convey its heart. Stories can be about the company, such as the impetus that led to its founding or some cool community event in which its staff participated. They can focus on employees relating personal stories that integrate elements of their characters with aspects of their jobs. They can highlight a company initiative from the perspectives of those charged with implementing it, following the process through from idea conception to presentation. Endless stories.

While each video might max out at two minutes (often less), there may be many to produce, so ultimately far more time will be devoted to this format – and often watched by the viewers — than the single 12-minute piece in which the company invested 15 years ago. Yet unlike its old-fashioned predecessor, each piece will present only a slice of something related to the company. The viewer who watches a series of videos the company provides on its website and/or other social media sites may gain the larger umbrella perspective the company would like to portray. But the person who stops after the first will walk away with neither depth of understanding nor the larger picture perspective of the company.

This is the new communication reality. It is incumbent upon corporations still hesitant to find their video voices within its parameters. That may present some challenges, but a successful initiative will be worthwhile. Individual stories will resonate.

Investor Relations Videos

January 17, 2013

Funny thing about the category of “investor relations videos”: it does not enjoy the popularity of other adjectives associated with video, like “marketing video” or “web video.” The expression just doesn’t seem to have search engine appeal – at least not in this particular three-word combination.

Perhaps that is not so surprising. Traditional industries like financial services clothe themselves less in fashionable (or any) video than other business types. And digits – while long known to possess magical qualities that might make the stuff of a good story – often seem most legitimate when presented in typed black numbers on sterile white pages.

Certainly the nature of some types of financial services companies is less amenable to colorful storytelling than others. But investors today are presented with unlimited opportunities in a market that is still recovering economically. They have the difficult job of distinguishing between a wide array of different kinds of funds in which to invest as well as companies to trust with their investments. In a world in which people prefer to watch rather than read, why not enliven the marketing pitch with a compelling video?

www.riversidecompany.com

Storyline is key here.  Private equity and venture capital firms have an easier job than others in the industry since they are comprised by definition of companies in an array of industries that have wonderful stories about their origins, growth and substance.  But even traditional investment firms can unearth good stories to share with their investors. For instance, a new policy roll-out that is investment-friendly would be of interest to current and potential investors and could be presented in a creative way. Or a video created for a different purpose – such as an HR video – could be modified to focus on the skill sets and personalities of staff who play key roles in successful outcomes (and therefore impress investors).

An investor relations video can be a very helpful tool, especially in an industry in which this type of marketing initiative has not yet come of age, but the ages of younger investors see the world in visual motion.

Our Corporate Personality

January 14, 2013

The notion that a corporation is a person under the due process clause of the US Constitution stretches back to the US Supreme Court decision in 1806 of Trustees of Dartmouth University vs. Woodward. The great Justice John Marshall, writing for that court, defined a corporation as “an artificial being” (and thus Dartmouth, as a corporation and a party to the charter-contract in dispute, could enforce its constitutional rights).

Other decisions elaborated on the concept, which was ultimately written into federal legislation stating: “In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, unless the context indicates otherwise . . . the words “person” and “whoever” include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals.” (1 U.S.C. section 1).

So at Voices & Visions we got to thinking… If V&V is a person (however artificial), what is its personality? It cannot be a reflection simply of its staff, since we are a collection of diverse personalities. How do we even begin to define the traits of this corporate person for whom we all work?

We started by listing some characteristics that we believe reflect V&V’s persona, based on the company’s “lifetime” of experiences – i.e., all the different projects on which V&V has worked together with the team of folks who’ve driven them. Those attributes include:corporate video nj, corporate video new jersey, corporate video production, business video, marketing video

  • Artsy/colorful
  • Warm/welcoming
  • Hip
  • Hard-working/ambitious
  • Down-to-earth
  • Enjoys diverse friendships
  • Traveler, but not tourist
  • Loves the journey
  • Establishes bonds globally
  • Is grounded in a stable, healthy family
  • Loves new challenges
  • Part techy, part creative, part academic
  • Thorough
  • Flexible
  • Adaptable
  • Storyteller
  • Loves dancing
  • Enjoys fine food, coffee, wine, and chocolate
  • Green/eco-friendly

We know that neither the distinguished lawyer Daniel Webster, who argued Dartmouth University before the Supreme Court, nor Justice Marshall, intended their definition of “corporation” to stretch into the notion of an entity defined with human traits. Nonetheless, these 207 years later, we would love to hear your comments about additional traits you think should be associated with V&V – as well as some thoughts about how the totality of characteristics might manifest themselves in a greater corporate personality.

Video Production From The Road: Interviews

October 26, 2012

One of the great upsides to shooting corporate videos at locations around the globe is that we spend our days at facilities with people with whom we have the privilege to become acquainted. After all, we are usually interviewing them on camera, and even when we’re not – such as in the production of a video that uses musical backgrounds without words – we are interviewing them off camera to understand the nature of their work so we can properly capture and present it.  Formal interview time is always bookended by plenty of informal chatter, making the former more comfortable for everyone. And so we learn things like colleges that interviewees’ kids attend or where they went on their recent vacations. Those conversations lead to others, and before we know it, we often all discover how much we are enjoying each other’s company. Sometimes dinner invitations follow, and even when they don’t, recommendations for good dinners (and all the colorful context) are usually a good bet. By the time we are departing, we find that we have collected valuable insiders’ perspectives about the places we have visited even if the trips are only for small amounts of time.

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Of course, we don’t always hit it off as good ol’ buddies with the folks we are interviewing, nor do we have any expectations. But we do maintain an attitude of “work hard, play hard,” so we find fun spots to spend the off-hours, with or without our professional colleagues. A few days ago at a pub in Rouen, France, we met a woman at the next table who had come to have a drink after week. After a few friendly comments, we all found that we had many things to discuss, and we spent quite awhile talking, laughing, taking pictures, and sharing stories. Today, of course, such encounters don’t end with the last drop of distinctive French wine. We have become Facebook friends, and if prior such meetings are an indication, I am confident our knowledge of each other’s lives and cultures will continue to expand over time.

Video Production From the Road: Interview Space

October 24, 2012

This is not atypical: We travel to the other side of the world for a corporate video shoot, then the interviewee takes us to a generic conference room that could be located in Anywhere, USA. I say, respectfully: Are there any other options for a background, and they respond, respectfully: No!

If possible, the story can’t end there. It just doesn’t seem fair to our clients, who – trusting our production values and committed to consistency in video production — invest in these international jaunts. And so the search begins for elements that resonate place (Melbourne or Hong Kong or Paris – or Houston or Wilmington, Delaware) or industry space (software or manufacturing or law or whatever). Decisions about backgrounds depend first, upon the substance of the material in the video; second, upon availability; and third, upon creativity.

corporate video production, travel, business, melbourne, australiaFor example: Two weeks ago we videotaped at two different companies in Australia, both of which escorted us straight into their conference rooms upon arrival. The first company is in the medical software business, the second in HR compliance materials for online consumption. The actual industry background for these speakers are rooms occupied by individuals at computer desks – a setting almost as common as white-walled conference rooms. But in both cases, the companies sell solely into the Australian market, so backdrops that say “Australia” fill in some color. In the first case, we set the interviewee in front of a large window that overlooked a recognizable panorama of Melbourne. For the second, we added to the side of a window view some distinctive company props that had just been used at a trade show the week before, emphasizing both geography (the view) and branding.

Note that skylines can be tricky. Natural lighting is not uniform in places around the world or during different times of day, and familiarity with details of how it might fall in a particular place at a specific hour cannot be easily predicted from another corner on the globe. Key to successful execution is a good knowledge of lighting that ensures thoughtful yet expeditious set-ups as well as a good kit that not only contains all the necessary components, but is also mobile-friendly.

At a video shoot a few months ago in Washington DC, the nondescript conference room into which we were taken was windowless.  With only about 20 minutes to set up a two-camera shoot, our director of photography washed the walls in colors reflective of the interviewee’s agency – another alternative when few tools and no time were at our disposal.

Hong Kong, corporate video production, business travel, video marketing, interviewsOutdoor interviews work well, too, if the choice is between a quiet space that says nothing and an interesting street scene where noise might be a challenge. Here the interviewee must feel comfortable with the setting, and proper audio is crucial; if carried out well, the end result can be very visually interesting.

Last week in Hong Kong, we conducted an interview from the top of the Peak, overlooking the city below. It was a beautiful scene, unmistakably highlighting the speaker’s location, which is an important aspect of the nature of his work. We walked around the path for a bit to find a spot less populated with passersby. Nonetheless, there were a number of cold stops in the middle of sentences as people passed or made other noise. It was a small price to pay for the beauty and inherent message of the background. And it was a far better solution than videotaping in another typical conference room, indistinguishable from millions of others everywhere.

Read last week’s entry for Video Production From The Road on Flying Tips.

Video Production From the Road: Flying Tips 1

October 10, 2012

Comfortable travel is all about loyalty to airlines that are a part of larger networks and awareness of ever-changing benefits that accompany annual miles traveled. To take advantage of a variety of offerings described in more detail below, you need to start by becoming a member of one or more specific airlines. Joining is easy; it costs nothing, and you can do it online (and sometimes as part of an offer in which frequent flyer miles are given for your membership). Membership per se does not give you entitlements, but it starts you on the path toward them. If you choose membership on more than one airline, it is best to ensure that each is part of a different airline network so you have only one membership within a network.

As a generalization, if you travel 25,000 miles or more in a calendar year on the airline of your membership or any other airline within its network, you will be rewarded for all the money you spend with that carrier/network. (All major airlines – but not some smaller ones – are part of larger airline networks, such as Star Alliance or OneWorld; a quick web search will pull up the partners of your preferred airline.) You will be bumped from your airline’s class of Any Passenger into its status of Any Passenger Plus (APP) (nomenclatures mine), good for the remainder of the year and the entire next one. The benefits of being an APP are small but meaningful:

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This is what a road-worthy light kit looks like.

  • On flights with the airline of your membership, you get to check in with the first and business class passengers, reducing long lines and interminable waits
  • Similar advantage going through security lines
  • Your checked luggage is coded with priority tags, putting them at the front of the line at baggage claim in your arrival airport and getting you on your way to your destination much more quickly
  • You can board the plane earlier than the rest of economy class passengers, which is significant for storing bags overhead before the space is gone
  • And most valuable, if the flight has upgraded vacant seats, you have a shot at getting them, depending on how many others are on the flight with your status and in the order of upgrade requests made by others within your APP status.

Once you’ve become an APP, you’ll want to stick with the airline of your membership in order to receive the benefits of your status for the remainder of the year and all the next year. However, sometimes that is not a feasible option: Your preferred airline might not fly where you need to go, or the ticket price might be way out of league with offerings of competitors. If that happens, choice number two should be flying with a partner of your preferred airline.

In addition to depositing the miles for your flights on the partner airlines into your account for the airline of your membership, the partners will award you with what I will call APP -1 (minus one) status. While some of the advantages your membership airline bestows will not be respected, others will be. Which advantages you will receive vary between airlines, and even within a single airline, the rules constantly change. For instance, until a few months ago, US Airways would mark the luggage of silver-status members (25,000 plus miles) of their partner United as priority, then they reversed that policy. Or Cathay Pacific will allow other Star Alliance APP members to check in through the first and business class lines, but Star Alliance member British Airways does not bestow that benefit. (Note that these observations were true as of the last time I traveled with each of these carriers – Cathay Pacific this month, and British Airways a number of months ago. They are constantly in flux!)

While disappointing to be treated as an APP-1 when you’ve grown accustomed to the benefits of APP status, it is important to keep in mind that it is a better option than simply flying as an AP! And name-dropping your status occasionally bumps up the benefits you receive if it is easy for the airline to do, even when this treatment is not written in its rules book.

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Taken from the window of the plane.

If your travel miles in a given year exceed 50,000, you have two options. Stay with the same preferred airline to become an APPP and get even more benefits, or choose a second preferred airline to get the APP status on two. If you choose the latter, you should ensure that your choice airlines are part of different networks, which will give you minimally APP-1 status on a wide range of airlines and APP benefits on your two preferred ones.

If you go for the 50,000 mile marker, the benefits are substantially better. Again, as a generalization, the additions include all the benefits of APP status plus:

  • Free access to the airline’s club while you wait for your flight to board. These clubs vary, but ordinarily have big and comfortable chairs for resting, free wifi, free snack food, and even free alcoholic (and other) drinks
  • A higher priority status for upgraded seats, when available
  • Check in on business and first class lines on partner airlines
  • Boarding immediately after first class and business passengers

The advantages improve again at the 75,000 mile marker, but they really get good at 100,000, where you earn lifetime benefits. Without those, you have to start re-collecting every year from scratch. Note that the benefits described above are different than frequent flyer miles accrued, which enable you to fly for free on non-blackout dates to different destinations using pre-set numbers of miles you have accumulated. For example, you can use 25,000 -30,000 miles on many airlines to fly round trip anywhere in the continental USA and 50,000-60,000 to fly to destinations like Europe. These numbers vary, however, depending on the airline, travel dates availability, and destinations.

Tune in on Friday for the 2nd part of this series on Flying Tips.

See last week’s Video Production From The Road report on getting from home to the airport onto the plan with as little pain as possible.