Some Thoughts on Corporate Video in the YouTube Era

The corporate video has long been a powerful public relations and marketing tool. I can recall years ago AMGEN did one to explain what biotechnology actually is, using the examples of bread making and brewing beer to explain their approach to developing new medicines that mimic natural disease-fighting mechanisms in the body like Epogen and Neupogen. 

Since the Enron scandal, corporate videos often serve to show the investment community that those pipelines, manufacturing and R&D facilities actually exist and what they look like. I talk to a lot of Wall Street analysts who just like to get a feel for what the CEO or other senior officers are like through watching them on video. (The corporate video session can also double as a rare opportunity to do some message/media training with a busy executive who’s hard to pin down otherwise). It’s a great chance for a global company to show it’s reach around the world. I just completed one for a company in Mumbai that has impressive holdings in the USA. The making of the video helped bring both sides of the world together in the collaboration and to better understand each other strategically.

Very often videos are used in community outreach to help explain what a company does, or its public policies, and the same videos are often used in employee recruitment, explaining why top professionals would want to move to Des Moines or Waltham MA.

Increasingly, the focus is on YouTube.  Google search certainly favors multimedia content, no accident that Google also owns YouTube. To their credit, they are making YouTube friendlier for corporations and businesses to develop their own channels, including such helpful features as the channel trailer. I know several millenials who don’t subscribe to cable or satellite TV at all. They are perfectly happy with YouTube, Hulu and Netflix.

 The YouTube trailer is exactly what it sounds like, a terrific opportunity to promote your video(s) just like the coming attractions for a movie. Keep it short, under a minute, and try to summarize what your channel is all about. Don’t forget to have a call to action to subscribe, so those interested in your company can get notifications when you post new videos.

Very often it’s wise if you have a longer version, to also make a shorter version available, unless you put it together in some kind of inverted pyramid old school journalism print fashion (most important information up front). If your video has three themes and is say six or seven minutes long, it might be better to have 3 two minute videos about the themes…you can still post the longer video, too.

As costs for video production fall, a nice corporate video that was $30,000 five years ago might even be higher quality now for less than $8,000. I saw one I liked the other day and it turned it out had been shot on the iPhone 5. Since I have an expensive Sony HD video camera, that’s all I’m going to say about that, but the bottom line is, the tools are getting easier to use, the costs are going down, and the demand is greater than ever.

Most companies long ago realized the value of amortizing video production costs, i.e., having one use for media b-roll purposes, another for employee education or recruitment, another for investors, and/or one for the website—now it’s an even better investment than ever before.