Whether you’re creating your first or fiftieth video, I think you will find these tips helpful. It’s important to know upfront if you need to include a banana. (Banana? Yes, a banana. You'll get it if you keep reading!) And whether you hire a company like ej4 or create internally, we want you to have a successful corporate video production process. We have found that the more thinking and planning you do upfront, the smoother the production process.
We suggest you follow the best practices of project management. Document these items in writing in your project plan so you can share with key stakeholders and gain collective agreement. If you don’t write things down and have the strategy defined, I can guarantee that people will change their minds, ask for bananas, have selective memory, and your process will be painful! As you go through production, you can refer back to some of these items and remind your team of the objective and purpose of the video. It’s your compass to guide the process.
What is the overall objective?
- What are you trying to achieve with the video?
- Are you launching a new product to your sales and customer service teams?
- Maybe you have a new internal rebranding campaign that needs to be explained to all employees?
- Or your sales leader wants to launch a major new sales incentive?
Who are the stakeholders?
Who should be involved with the approval process along the way? If you plan to show the finished video to someone for final approval, they need to be involved throughout the process for approval along the way: script, graphics, presenter, etc. If they aren’t, they can and will derail the process at the very end with a surprise expectation (banana) that you did not anticipate. (See banana explanation under design specifications.)
Who is the subject matter expert?
Your subject matter expert or SME will be one of the most important stakeholders on your team. Is there a scientist who has created the formula for your new product who needs to be involved to approve verbiage around product claims or ingredients? Or is there a marketing person from the brand team who should be involved to ensure the tone of the rebranding training is correct?
In our experience, the SME will always throw you a curveball if they are not included throughout the process. You think you don’t want to bother them but in reality, they are invested in the content. You may be communicating or training on a project they have spent months or years working on. Of course, they want to see it through! In some cases, being involved with the corporate video production process is exciting and fun for the SME and a nice break from their normal routine.
What is the scope of work?
- Who is the project owner?
- Who is the business sponsor?
- What are the budget and timeline?
- Is this project part of a larger initiative?
- Are there additional tactics that will accompany the video? Printed materials, launch events, web content?
- Is this a single video or a series?
Who is the target audience?
- Is there a different message for the factory, warehouse, retail, office, leadership, etc.?
- Are there different versions for different locations/countries?
- Will employees and managers need different messages?
What is the single most important message?
This may be the toughest question to answer. It may also take you down the microlearning path with a series of videos where each one has one single most important message in each video.
Getting your team to agree on the single most important message (not the five most important messages) is one of the hardest tasks.
As you go through the scripting and storyboard steps, refer back to this single thing to make sure you are on track and avoid scope-creep.
What are the additional communication learning points?
- These will be more detailed and specific.
- As this list grows, you may need to expand the scope of your project to include multiple videos.
What are the design specifications? (The banana?)
- Are you required to keep the design within the corporate brand standards? Colors? Fonts?
- Is there copyrighted content that must be included?
- Will executives be featured on-screen?
- Should the presenter wear a specific color or branded shirt?
- Do you need to include a banana? Not a literal banana but that thing one of your stakeholders will ask for when they see the final video. They ask, “Where's the banana?” Your goal here is to figure out what the banana is before you write the script!
What is the timeline?
Is there a hard deadline for the launch? Work backward from the timeline and estimate time for various steps (Script, graphics, storyboard, choose the presenter, record, edit.) Pad the time between milestones to allow for indecision and people changing their minds.
Communicate the timeline to all stakeholders. Find out when stakeholders will be out of the office or unavailable and work your timeline around them. Remind the stakeholders before milestones come up. Remind them again. Drive the timeline. Explain the consequences if they miss a milestone. Be persistent without being a pest. (We have a course on that, by the way!)
Other real-life examples from ej4:
I love working with clients on their custom training videos. I love it, even more, when they let us be the experts they are paying for! This isn’t our first rodeo! You can benefit from our years of corporate video production with a few more real-life lessons learned and some examples of those last-minute, costly bananas:
Proper pronunciation of proprietary terms
Our client contact gave us the pronunciation of the new product name. It was a made-up term like you see in the drug commercials on TV. (How would you pronounce Xiandrialy?) We recorded and edited the training video. In the end, they found out they had given us the wrong pronunciation. We had to re-record and re-edit at the client’s expense. This is another reason to include your SME!
Listen to the experts
Our long-time client’s company had recently been purchased. They brought in a new SME who wanted to make a big impression and demonstrate their expertise. The content was very complicated so we proposed a script and graphic changes to simplify the learning points.
Our client’s new SME resisted our approach and insisted we follow their lead. We took their direction with a much more complicated script and (in our opinion) cluttered graphics. We recorded and edited the course and in the end, they thought it was too busy with too much information. They asked us to make revisions and return to our original proposal. We had to re-record and re-edit at their expense.
Our client approved our presenter’s wardrobe before we recorded the video. They did not want to spend $175 for branded, embroidered shirts so we used a generic blouse. We completed the video. Once they saw it, they changed their minds and asked us to re-record so the presenter could wear a branded shirt. They sent three different shirts embroidered with the company logo (white, blue, and grey). Instead of spending $175 upfront, they spent $525 on shirts and paid for a full day of re-recording time and editing.