Video Killed the Radio Star made history 34 years ago as the first video song to appear on the 24-hour video music channel MTV. The song has kept its punch when you think how video today continues to dominate how we see the world around us.
Just look at the explosion of video on Facebook. It saw nearly three million video uploads alone last month, generating nearly 97 billion views. And Buzzfeed is recording around one billion video views each month with the majority of its traffic coming through mobile devices.
Video offers massive business opportunities. But it also presents great risks for companies which need to be ready for damaging images that can be uploaded on social media and ruin corporate reputations overnight. Take for example the Domino Pizza employees who posted a video of them messing around with people’s food or the FedEx employee caught on video carelessly throwing boxes in to the back of a truck.
The reality for many corporations is that the next brand crisis is just as likely to originate from a negative video through social media, viewed by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide within minutes – well before the issue makes TV news or appears in print. And newsrooms themselves are increasingly using video footage shot by citizens and posted online as legitimate news sources.
But despite its reach and impact, many corporate leaders are still reluctant to use video through social media first as an effective communications tool to handle serious issues and crises.
For many, the default approach is still a carefully crafted reactive statement, as if the explosion of video, social and the internet does not apply in a crisis management situation. It goes against good communications theory, where logic tells us we should be talking to people in their language on their preferred platforms.
Most corporate leaders would appreciate the need to act fast and to tell it all with authenticity, compassion and transparency in a crisis situation. But they could also strengthen their position and corporate reputation by taking a more proactive approach by using video to speak to customers, employees and the community both in good times and in bad.
If done right, an effective video message allows a CEO to convey more natural emotion, personality and empathy, which is essential for good crisis communications. Videos can create a greater sense of personal interaction that you can’t achieve with a statement, and they can carry clearer and direct messages, which are more likely to be shared virally through social media. Video messages also provide traditional media with the opportunity to take audio and video sound bites for their stories, instead of reading out corporate statements, which can come across as evasive.
Key things to remember for a video message:
- Avoid corporate speak – practice and memorise simple, personal messages that will resonate with audiences
- Show concern – think about the voice tone and physical expressions that will best reflect the seriousness of the issue and the sincerity of spokesperson on video
- Get to the point - deliver an apology with heart and fast, explaining what will be done to prevent the issue from happening again
- Think about the setting – the lighting, camera angle and background will have a big impact on how audiences assess the situation and decide how credible the message is.
- The secret to getting it right is for corporate leaders to understand, be comfortable with and practice delivering video messages outside of crisis situations so they are fully prepared for any situation. If they don’t, they may as well start singing Video Killed the Corporate Star.
By director at Ogilvy PR Australia, Nino Tesoriero