Archive for the ‘Corporate storytelling’ Tag
As communication professionals, work is often less about where we go than the things we do. Often our work is done at home, while seated in 23A, on location, or somewhere in the cloud. Yet how fortunate we are to work in a profession that provides an outlet for creativity and imagination. If that’s not how you see your work it’s time for a mindset reset.
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” This quote from George Bernard Shaw offers the philosophical view. Business entrepreneur and investor, Sir Richard Branson, puts it into actionable terms, “Create the kind of workplace and company culture that will attract great talent. If you hire brilliant people, they will make work feel more like play.”
Not part of a company? Doesn’t matter. Branson’s analogy still holds. Communication work is normally done as a team. Some projects can be done solo, but more often than not our work is done in teams. What about turning work into play? It doesn’t mean you don’t work hard or never face boring tasks. But would you rather be doing something else?
I asked a number of friends and professional peers about their experiences in the business and how they find joy in the work they do. Here is a quick mindset reset about the Joy of the Job.
Freedom to Create: There are many ways to structure a communication that meets client objectives. Once you understand what the client needs to communicate, look for ways to construct the project that will interest you and keep you excited. “Too often, we operate under the premise that Corporate Video needs to be dull and uninteresting,” suggests Bill Marriott, Sr. Marketing Director – Video Communications & New Media at SAS and CMMA Southeast Region Director. “Dull and uninteresting are not great differentiators for a business. As a producer it’s important to find something about a project that pushes you to deliver work that excites.”
Make it a Team Effort: Last year the Boston Red Sox won baseball’s World Series title. Some argue they didn’t have the best individual players among teams that made the playoffs. What they had was an intangible, they played as a team and looked like they were having more fun than every team they played. While other teams stressed under pressure, the team of “Beards” became more than the sum of its parts. Gary Shifflet, a former MCA-I President, recently started a new position at Creative Solutions Group as Sr. Project Mgr./Technical Director helping create large scale trade show exhibits. “I joined the team with the specific goal of helping enhance the interactive experience of visiting an exhibit space.” Gary hit the ground running because of his experience and skill working with production teams towards a shared goal. “Every division is responsible for their own tasks, but also empowered to help each other to reach their goals. It’s an awesome feeling working in a collaborative environment!” Working with a team of empowered professionals is one of the great joys of working as a MediaPro.
A World to Explore: How many professions offer the opportunity to learn something about almost everything? We participate in developing programs on subjects as diverse as our client base. “As a voice talent, one of the aspects of my job I love the best is the variety of industries I get to voice for,” says Liz de Nesnera, Owner, Reservoir Road Productions and MCA-I Secretary. “In fact, it was through a narration job that I discovered the wonders of hydraulic cement! Thanks to what I learned in voicing that job, I was able to fix quite a few leaks in my old basement floor! Who knew? Voice a job, fix your basement. Bonus!” Whether working as an independent or as an in-house MediaPro, the range of topics we’re exposed to can be fascinating if you really pour yourself into a project.
Tools of the Trade: We have great, fun tools to work with. That’s why so many groups across an enterprise want to create their own video productions. As exciting as it must be to fuse a framersham, it’s much more fun to make a video about it. Chris Barry, AMM, Sr. Director, Yellow Tag Productions at Best Buy and CMMA President reminds us it’s not cameras, edit systems, and encoders that make great programs – its people. “Technology has revolutionized our business. The tools we use today to light, shoot and edit are more accessible and less expensive than ever before. But, the skill, experience and ability to use these tools to tell great stories can’t be commoditized.”
Opportunity to Show Off: The projects we deliver are often viewed publically. To clients, the release of every project is like a Hollywood premiere. While most corporate projects don’t have credits… we know. If a program is posted to YouTube, tell me you haven’t sent a link to someone and told them of your role in the project. “I love making other people look good! That’s half the battle,” admits Gerry Harriss, Media Services Manager at Asurion, LLC and CMMA Eastern Region Director. “To be able to craft a message from your work environment and elicit an emotional response is what pushes me toward the next best production. There is no better feeling than people throughout your company saying, I laughed, I cried, I thought, or I felt proud because of the video you produced. You made us look great.”
Ours is a fun profession, or it should be. Golf writer and CBS Sports Analyst Peter Kostis likes to use the phrase, “work like a major leaguer but play like a little leaguer.” If you’ve played any sport you know that practice is hard, but that’s usually not a problem because practice itself can be fun. The same should hold true when managing the work of communication project. It’s work. Yet if in the process you surround yourself with teammates who make the work fun, amazing things can happen.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one, “Make me a viral video.” As media producers that was a frequent request from clients just a few years ago. The new version, “We need a ‘storytelling’ video.” If you haven’t had this request yet, just wait it’s coming.
Marketers are always seeking new ways to deliver compelling “stories” to a targeted audience in ways that motivate them to react favorably. Corporate storytelling is about creating a business narrative that makes messages memorable. Human beings are intrinsically wired to create relationships based on shared stories. Since cavemen drew pictures on cave walls, stories have passed knowledge from one generation to the next. Think of how you relate to family, friends, or business associates. Bonds are created through shared stories. There is nothing more powerful than a good story.
The current buzz among marketers, agencies, and the creative community is reinventing the corporate story. But corporate storytelling is nothing new. What’s changed is the emphasis on audience engagement. Today, corporate storytelling means reflecting an organization’s core principles, those that define and establish its’ unique identity.
The communication message cycle is constantly shifting: from messaging directed at C-level executives, to more detailed information aimed at key decision makers, to today’s requests for engaging stories rather than simply shilling detailed product information. Over the years we’ve all produced videos highlighting product differentiation, exceptional customer service, or value-added differences. But competitors all claim the same thing. How can this new emphasis on corporate storytelling break through the cacophony of noise in the marketplace and deliver audience engagement? Here are a few ideas on how video fits into corporate storytelling.
1. Storytelling is only one technique. Client requests for storytelling are rising. While good for business, it is also a producer’s responsibility to evaluate fully the objectives and offer clients the best possible solution. By its nature, storytelling is a pull, not push communication strategy. It’s appropriate in some cases, but not in every case. Sometimes the best solution is a short, technical demo. Corporate storytelling is a technique for pulling people into a dialogue about an organization’s brand. Corporate storytelling is to transactional marketing as blogging is to journalism.
2. Storytelling is about creating a bond. People relate to people through shared experiences. A great story points the viewer in a desired direction, but gives them the freedom to draw their own conclusion. A great story is told in a way that grabs and holds attention. Stay away from long lists of facts and figures. These are much more difficult to remember than an engaging narrative. Make the story personal, credible, and compelling. This can often be done with customer interviews and letting the customer define a business’ product or service. Rather than lots of marketing chest pounding, let prospects learn about a business through the eyes of its customers. It’s about piquing interest and curiosity so prospects want to learn more.
3. Storytelling makes a lasting impression. What are the stories you tell around the dinner table? People tell stories that touch hearts, generate feelings, and make us think. Look for ways to connect with viewers on an emotional level. Employees are a great source of stories that can reflect very directly an organization’s core values. Viewers can establish an emotional connection with the people that are the company. Once that relationship develops, viewers are more receptive to the messages and information that need to be communicated.
4. Storytelling establishes a style. There are many creative ways to tell a story. Corporate storytelling can establish a unique style of presentation. How it fits into a larger marketing strategy needs to be clearly understood. Creating one video in this unique style does little to build new perceptions if the program is not part of a coordinated plan. Music fans know Johnny Cash as the man in black; golf fans think of Gary Player; tech enthusiasts recall Steve Job’s black turtlenecks; and movie fans remember Will Smith as Agent J telling his partner, “I make this look good.” All of these became iconic styles closely associated with each person. A well told corporate story can begin the foundation of a unique identity, but only if delivered with consistency and as part of a coordinated marketing plan.
5. Storytelling opens a dialogue. When done right, corporate storytelling creates opportunity for an on-going relationship with prospects and customers. Stories should make viewers ask themselves, “what if?” Viewers should envision opportunity to move their own organization forward in ways that are both attainable and achievable. Corporate storytelling is about building long-lasting connections that continue the conversation and deepen relationships. Look for ways to use video to extend reach across web channels, blogs, and as a tool for sales to reach out to prospects and customers – continuing the dialogue without reverting to an explicit product pitch. It’s all about building trust and strengthening relationships.
What does this look like when these ideas all come together? A good example is a recent project produced by Todd Johnson of our Corporate Creative team at SAS. It’s a customer profile of how UPS is using analytics to reduce miles driven and improve service. The entire story is told from the customer’s perspective. The SAS message underlies the story but lets viewers decide for themselves how it relates to their specific situation.
Analytics and Logistics Optimization at UPS
Corporate storytelling is one way media producers can help clients make a strong and lasting impression and help marketers grow relationships that build business.