When we think about video, we often imagine a film shoot. A sea of lights, cameras and gorgeous looking hipster crew with low hanging jeans (and more crack than Harlem if you’re unlucky).
What struck me when I worked in TV production myself is how incredibly important video production seemed. Creating content seemed to revolve around stressed out production managers, pushy interviewers, micro managing marketing directors and a very uptight ‘brand’ person with lots of print outs and a short term memory issue.
The single most overlooked aspect of video production is: the people. In all distraction and excitement around content, we can easily overlook the feelings of the people who are featured. As a result we often don’t manage to capture authenticity.
Our approach has created the idea that being filmed as something daunting, something we need to just get over with. We fill the room with hot lights, people our interviewees don’t know and we add a limited timeframe. Then we fire a list of questions at them that pushes them towards the brand message. How are our interviewees supposed to make anything conversational and authentic like that?
So we suck it up and go on auto pilot. We do the 20 takes until we say exactly what it says on the print out. We get a professional presenter to represent that business that we pour all of our time and energy into. Does that make sense? We choose the great looking extravert male marketing director to represent the brand, because he’s ‘good on camera’. And yes, men are more likely to put their hand up for being interviewed.
If we keep approaching content like this, ‘good on camera’ means being able to withstand the stress that video creates. This requires a thick skin, which rules out the 50% of humanity that’s on the introvert spectrum. If we rule out that many people by our process, our content ends looking staged and forced.
Authenticity is essential for building connection and trust, especially in PR. In the run up to the PRIA conference we interviewed a number of PR Practitioners around their views on authenticity: https://vimeo.com/114209651
There are three factors that stand in the way of us being authentic: Organisational: we may work in organisation that don’t foster authenticity. The larger an organisation is, the harder authenticity becomes. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible though. Content: the objective of a lot of content is to look polished. This is mainly to make sure we as agencies feel good about ourselves and the marketing director feels good about her decision to hire you. Our audience isn’t that interested in how nice things look: that’s a baseline expectation. They’re looking for relevant information and connection. Culture: we all fear being judged. Some organisations have a culture in which employees don’t feel empowered to add a personal touch; micromanaged and undertrained.
This fear of being judged is especially evident when we interview middle aged women in leadership roles. These women have a good reason to worry: Women are being judged more harshly. Just check out the comments females get on Youtube. As agencies, we have can and should make a real difference by making the process of creating content easier for them.
Here are five ways to create more authentic content: 1. Diversity – Include a diverse range of people in your message, especially the ones that don’t considering themselves ‘good on camera’. Offer coaching. Give introverts the time they need to prepare. Make sure it’s a fun experience. Our experience is that you’ll find that the reluctant ones create the best content: they hold themselves to higher standards. 2. Content – Let go of control. Create a framework of ‘must haves’ but allow for stories and serendipity. You’ll be surprised with what your team and colleagues have to offer. 3. Make it easy – Find people that you really enjoy working with, so pick your production partners based on shared values and culture instead of a hot looking showreel (which are all smoke and mirrors anyway). 4. Work with the environment – Look for a place that’s shifts the mindset so you get better stories. Get away from boardroom. 5. Avoid time pressure – Invest in people instead of technology: better to have an authentic story in HD than a stressed out interviewee in 4k.
Lawyers and authenticity may seem like an oxymoron, but it isn’t if you let them tell their stories: https://vimeo.com/99220941
What’s your experience with being filmed or having a client filmed? What do you think we can all do to make things better? We’d love to hear your stories!
Blogs about authenticity and content Freebie for SYD and MELB –