Communication professionals know as well as most of the personalities at management level in a company: Competence in communication is always also leadership competence. In many companies, sooner or later the decision is made to also use management videos. This brings with it opportunities and risks.
In an exclusive four-part series by professionals for professionals, Filmpulse explains to you what needs to be considered when executives communicate with video.
- The path to professional management video can be divided into four steps: Definition of the impact goals, determination of the appropriate form, shooting of the first video, further development to a series format.
- Highly professional leadership videos (C-Level) are usually within a cost range of 15,000 to 25,000 for a video of approx. 5 minutes in length (including format development, excluding distribution costs)
- As part of internal or external corporate communications, management videos must take existing guidelines into account and adapt them for the moving image.
I have always dreamed of management videos!
Let’s face it! Hardly any graduate of a film school has chosen his or her training to realize management videos. It is only when the dream of Hollywood has been submerged in the shark tank of the film industry that one or the other child prodigy suddenly reluctantly stands behind the camera for corporate videos. After all, the rent must be paid. And that’s what the videos look like.
This is bad news for all those who dream of perfect communication. And good news at the same time.
In hardly any other genre of professional communication is there so much room for improvement as in management videos / executive videos. And: With no other instrument can you get closer to the boss than with moving images.
The four steps to Management Videos
For the conception and planning of moving images with top executives, a four-step process is recommended wherever possible. This is particularly important if a video format is to be produced regularly and serially. For example, as half-yearly employee information or on the occasion of balance sheet media conferences.
For one-off productions and testimonials, some of the four steps listed below can be skipped or abbreviated. The 4 steps should never be used to complicate processes and interfaces.
Where a step or a process within a step makes no sense with regard to the participants and their experience, it should be avoided.
1Step 1: Definition
As absurd as it may sound to some ears. The first question on the way to convincing management videos must be whether moving images are the right medium at all. Film means stepping in front of a camera and speaking to people.
Even if director Patrick Merz says: “We are all actors”. Standing in front of a camera is not only a matter of wanting to, but also of being able to. The so-called image effectiveness (photogenicity) also plays a role here. When working with moving images, it is important to make sure of this: There are people who look “good” in front of a camera. And there are people who are “not loved” by a camera. Function and position do not play a role here. The eye of the camera is neither democratic nor fair!
In a management video people speak to people.
Prof. Dr. Ch. Beck
Where only naked numbers and hard facts should speak, moving pictures are mostly the wrong medium. At least the feeling of wanting to have a coffee with the person in front of the camera should be conveyed to the viewer by the appearance of a person in a video.
Communication is always part of the overall corporate communication. A CEO in a management video does not change this. It is praiseworthy to want to replace a newsletter with moving images. However, it is important to remember that in this case the look and feel should correspond to the sender’s brand.
The same applies as when integrating new social media channels into communication: Those who start communicating with video cannot suddenly stop. Otherwise, management videos are threatened by unpleasant nuances.
Videos transport and link emotions and information. If the focus is solely on conveying information, a PDF may be just as suitable. To explain highly complex interrelationships, we recommend not a moving image production with the Chief Executive Officer, but an explanatory video.
2Step 2: Formatting
Formatting means nothing more than giving content a cinematic form. This form is the concept for the management video. It says what the film looks like. An important part of the concept are the formatting elements. Formatting also includes the basic question of how close the concept should be to other, already existing measures with similar objectives.
The decision as to whether the future video as a product should be perceived by the viewer as “me too” or as a “leader” in his or her environment should not be made without reflection.
Benchmarking helps to evaluate the best in class. This is first of all broadly defined and includes films with the same task across all sectors. Then videos of direct competitors with the same task are examined.
3Step 3: Testing
The first step is to produce a test video, a prototype (also called “pilot vidoe”). In the TV business, a pilot serves to evaluate the marketability of a series idea. For the CEO or CFO, piloting is recommended for more complex implementation concepts. It is quality-enhancing.
With a rehearsal of a management video, both the main actor in front of the camera and the crew involved get used to the new format and the necessities involved. These include, for example, line of sight and sequences (recording in one piece? Or are partial sequences, so-called bracket parts, recorded?)
For planning reasons, as well as in view of the costs associated with the recording technology, Management Videos generally refrain from the possibility of declaring and publishing a successful test run to a work ready for broadcast. This is not unusual practice on TV. Nevertheless it is a stupid idea.
Firstly, it puts enormous pressure on the CEO in front of the camera during the rehearsal run. Instead of warming up loosely, the majority of executives will try to perform at a level appropriate to their function. And that is why they fail. If the test recording of the management video cannot be used despite prior announcement, the pressure on all those involved increases. It is therefore better to either do without the test recording. Or to declare it as such, and only as such, right from the start.
The pilot test is the proof of concept for both customer and maker – an important milestone. But it is also an opportunity to align the concept or parts of it even more closely with the person and their abilities, where necessary.
4Production and impact monitoring
The production of a management video is examined separately and in detail in the third part of the article series. Once the video is finished and online to everyone’s satisfaction, it is necessary to check and analyse the effect after a few days.
This includes not only internal feedback and possible e-mail feedback from stakeholders. But also the analysis of hard facts and comparative values such as views, interactions, traffic sources, audience retention, reach and frequency, demographics, playback locations and media.
What does a Management Video cost?
In order to choose the best possible production partner, it is advisable to have a non-binding discussion with different suppliers. Afterwards, quotations can be obtained.
The price for a professionally produced management video with a length of between 4 and 7 minutes usually ranges between 15,000 and 25,000. As with other products, this price is always (!) dependent on the concrete formal and content-related nature of the implementation.
Some tricks for evaluating the competence of the production partner can be found here. Good to know: With management videos, the principle of reverse budgeting, which is highly recommended for image and product films, quickly reaches its limits.
Format Family for Management Videos
Management videos are a matter for the boss. In the truest sense of the word. However, it should not be forgotten that this genre of communication with moving images is only one single instrument in the overall communication of a company.
In an ideal world, the different videos of a company behave in the same way as different sub-brands do under a common umbrella brand. Each part is committed to common values.
So-called format-forming elements are the defining elements of a series. From the viewpoint of the viewer, these distinguish the video from products of competitors with comparable tasks.
Format-forming elements are just as important for serial management videos as for individual productions. Together with the production value in the film, they are the blueprint for success.
Examples of such formative elements can be
- Number of cameras
- Movements and viewing angles of the receiving unit
- How to address the audience (look directly into the lens, look slightly past the lens)
- B-roll footage
- film location
- Props (armchair, high desk)
Note: Formatting elements are only considered to be such if they have a certain independence and originality compared to other videos with identical objectives. Only then can these factors, consciously or unconsciously, become DNA and fulfil their function as a feature for identification / recognition by the viewer.
Continuation of the article series on management videos (part 2)
The second part of the Filmpulse series on management videos gets down to business. Because here the focus is on the time windows necessary for the preparations for shooting on the part of the customer and the production, the milestones and interfaces to be planned and last but not least the shooting. Together with proven tips and tricks from the field. In the last part of the series we analyse video messages of well-known managers.
- Part 1: Management Videos from A-Z: Costs, Procedure and Concept (this article)
- Part 2: Leadership videos from A-Z, Part 2: Preparation and shooting
- Part 3: CEO videos from A-Z, Part 3: The most important forms and their strengths / weaknesses
- Part 4: Video messages from A-Z, Part 4: Examples, analyses, learning, best practice