As a communications professional, I am fairly confident you are asked at least once or twice a week for your thoughts about a great video concept from a fellow colleague – their eyes widening as they go into great detail, with great excitement, on the next Oscar-winning short they envision. It’s often framed as the solution to all of the communications problems facing that division, your company or your division.
Whether it’s the unrelenting access to the medium or that childhood desire to be an actor or actress that creates so many unknown directors with video concepts dancing in their heads, it can be quite a challenge to direct this enthusiasm and passion into a workable product for them and for you so that all involved feel like they’ve achieved success.
Added to that challenge is the standard follow-up comment as you leave the discussion “make it viral”.
Before you start assembling that flash mob, here a few tips for creating effective videos that engage your audience and fit in with your overall communications strategy:
Ask why. Before you begin concepting your video, you need to know two things: the ultimate goal of the video and who your audience is. It sounds basic, but most skip this step in the rush to be creative.
Is this the right medium? Is a corporate-generated video the right medium to meet your goal and reach your audience? Consider user-generated content through Instagram and Vine contests or “man on the street” interviews at conferences by audience members. Think of where your audience interacts and target that medium.
Does it support your communications strategy? Revisit your objectives for the year and whether this video lines up with those objectives. If not, make a course correction or rethink the goal and audience reach so that it does meet those objectives.
Select your team. This is the most important part of the process. When seeking out a videographer, be sure to ask for a portfolio to ensure their style and technical ability match the style you are seeking. Also ask for references.
Start with a pen and pad of paper. Write down the story you want to tell. It does not have to be a full script but a story outline with a beginning, middle and end.
Create your storyboard. Have an idea of your shots, and sequence of shots before shooting. A storyboard is an online, artistic rendition of each shot, in sequence. Adjustments will be made on location but storyboarding is a necessary planning step to ensure your vision is understood and actualized by the production team.
Include a call to action. A call to action is the ultimate action you want your target audience to take as a result of engaging with your video. For example, do you want them to share the video and/or visit your website? Make that explicit at the end of the video.
Remember SEO. Include a transcript of your video where you embed it. Search engines will pick it up and it will improve your overall SEO. And don’t forget a title, description and keywords.
Last but not least, think long and hard about your distribution strategy. How are you going to release the video to your target audience? Via press release, opening an event/conference, an online launch on web and social media platforms? Have this planned out before you begin to ensure your video has a chance of being seen and being shared, giving it the opportunity to go viral.