7 tips for a successful executive video

I just finished a set of executive videos. After sitting through many takes, I now have some tips that I am using for every shoot.

1. Look, smile, start.
Start the camera and have them look into the camera, close their mouth and smile. With this you now have a still that you can capture for embedding the video. You also have a good editing and starting point for your video. Many times, people will start by looking off screen or opening their mouth or something that can create an awkward image if you need a starting or stopping point.

2. Make sure the subject knows where the camera frame ends.
Tell them that the camera comes down to “here.” If they fidget or want to hold the script (for between takes), are their hands hidden? Conversely, if they effectively use their hands to talk, make sure that their hands are in the frame. They may need to move their hands up, which will feel unnatural, but will work better on camera. You do not want hands fluttering in and out of the frame.

3. Stop, look, smile, cut.
At the end of the video, as with the start, make sure they look at the camera with a still mouth and face. When the video cuts, you want a nice still shot. As soon as they are done, many people will move or look away and they haven’t closed their mouth after the final word.

4. Watch for glare on glasses
Somethimes this is not noticeable as you are filming, but the camera will pick up reflections in glasses. Most subjects will prefer to keep their glasses on, so make sure to change the lighting or cover other light sources (like an open window), if there’s an unnecessary reflection.

5. Be familiar with the script
Make sure that the executive has written or read the script and put it in their own words. Otherwise, they will struggle to remember what to say. They will also emote better for the camera if they are comfortable with the script. If necessary, break it up into paragraphs stop at the natural pauses (remembering #1 and 3 above).

6. Encourage gestures and emotion
The camera not only flattens an image, but the emotion as well. I have some successful videos in which the selected cut was from when I asked for “one more time, but go over the top.” Although it felt a little unnatural, the extra emotion and passion was more engaging for the viewer. It’s hard to talk at a camera, which provides no feedback so the subject needs to add that extra interest.

7. Always do one more take
You never know what went wrong until you are editing. Plus, the executive will be more comfortable after a few run-throughs. For even a five-minute video, set aside an hour. I had one video in which I asked for one more take, although the previous shots were good. I would have been able to piece together a good video from a “best” version of each paragraph. However, the exec nailed the entire four paragraphs in that last take, beautifully. It’s a wrap!

Categories: Marketing, Video Tags:

Why social media, means “shareable” media

Sharing on Social MediaI’ve seen many articles stating that the Twitter economy is links.

The more links you share, the “richer” you are and more likely to build a follower base.

I see the same happening with Facebook at this article by Gregory Ferenstein, called To Spread Your Brand On Facebook, Don’t Target Your Fans–Target Their Friends.

Watching our corporate Facebook account (and corporate blog), the most shared items are those stories that you can’t wait to tell a friend – a new kind of smartphone, a new app, or a funny story (comparing roaming charges to the price of a house).

From the article:

Here’s the key stat, as far as marketers are concerned: A meager 16% of company messages reach users in a given week, largely because the Facebook newsfeed usually only displays popular posts and few fans go to the brand’s page on a regular basis.

The solution is to reach friends of fans through messages that are shareable, and promotions that require voting, checking in, or other interactivity.

Read more>>

Sharing is powerful in itself. It can inspire better products, broader reach of ideas, operating systems, and the world wide web.

So – get out there and share. Social networks are social, even for business. Find something that your followers can share. And it probably shouldn’t be about your company.

Categories: Social Media

Biggest blogging challenge

What is my biggest blogging challenge?

This is an interesting question because “it depends.” I write three different blogs. I am the editor of my company’s corporate blog; I have this blog on integrated marketing and I have another blog on balancing life (work, motherhood, running, you name it).

The blogs are different, but my biggest challenge remains the same – providing engaging, relevant content. I need to balance the line between what I think is interesting and what my readers want to learn. What can I provide them of value? What will make them stop and think about “how can I apply this to me”?

For my corporate blog, I have provide relevant content to two audiences – a more technical, IT audience, and the mobile worker, interested in the latest technology and devices. The best content provides some insight or challenge that the reader might not have thought about. I can write all day, but in giving that extra twist and interest, I need more subject-matter experts. That becomes part of the challenge.

For my personal websites, I’m writing on personal experience. My marketing challenges and how I have solved them, and my personal life balance – trying to do the things I love, while raising great kids and being awesome at work. I am my own subject-matter expert. However the struggle is still the RELEVANCY. What do you, as the reader, care about?

For the first part of the challenge, relevant content, I monitor reader response. What do people respond to? I check the comments, my social media interactions and what seems to be popular on other blog and media sites. This test-measure cycle is the core of any marketing program.

For the corporate website, the second part of the challenge is finding others to write that content for you. Most people don’t realize that they have gems of information that others would love to hear. My job is to figure out what that gem might be and coax it out of them. Just asking for a blog gives me a blank stare. However, if I mention some trends in recent news, or a controversial topic, I will usually get a response.

Most often the response is, “I don’t have time.” If I sense that they truly don’t have time (like many executives), I might back off. However, I will usually try again by going and talking with them directly (and taking copious notes) or trying my hand at writing something. It’s always easier to edit someone else’s work. As a final measure, I will write a post and ask whether it’s OK for posting with their name as author. This will usually get a response, as it 1) saves them work and 2) gives them a base to edit, enhancing with their voice.

Some final tips:

  • Brainstorm topics and share with others
  • Scan headlines for topics in your market in that you might have an alternate view
  • Set up an editorial calendar covering some of the bigger topics that you would like to share – in what area do you want to demonstrate expertise?
  • Approach other experts for their opinions – either as a guest blog, or for some comments on a topic
  • Ask the “man on the street.” I had a successful video in which I merely asked people how they lost their smartphones. The responses were interesting and funny
  • Talk about what you know, even if you don’t think you are an expert. Some of your readers might have less sophistication on the topic and appreciate your insights.
  • Tell your executive that they are doing a blog once per month (or some timeline). Provide them ideas or drafts. This will help you try to get them on a more regular basis
  • Catch employees that are going to industry conferences. Ask them to contribute a short piece and maybe some photos and/or video (a smartphone camera works fine for this)
  • Always have some back-up blogs. In case something falls through, you won’t have a bare patch.

Good luck!

Categories: Blogging

Changing marketing as easy as changing a hair style

When I saw today’s Wall Street Journal article, AT&T Pins 4G Label to Existing Network, I did a double-take.

Didn’t T-Mobile get heat over making a 4G claim for HSPA+? A little more research showed me that AT&T even criticized T-Mobile for their re-definition of 4G.

OK. That’s the part that gets me. Don’t like your product features today? Change them! It’s like a hair style, today, I’m parting my hair on the right. The feature set can change in an instant on the website and with a press release.

As marketers, sometimes we whine to Engineering, “are you sure that the product doesn’t have that feature? Not even a little bit?” Most marketers tend to be careful about overpromising, particularly now in the world of instant commentary on your brand, and your reputation spiraling out of control. Well, that’s what the execs think anyways.

Maybe in this age (or year) of information overload, customers will soon forget. The next 10 Android smartphones will come out and this news is lost except deep within a search engine index. Who cares as long as it’s blazing fast? And my new Android/Tablet/iPhone/name-your-next-hot-device will work on it!

Categories: Marketing

Tweet: the new sound bite

I heard an interesting story on NPR today. They were discussing the science of sound bites and various experiments that had gone on. The bottom line was that most politicians have learned to keep their sound bites to 9 seconds.

Do you hear me?

And, coincidentally, saying a tweet out-loud, for 140 characters, is about 9 seconds.

What worries me, is similiar to what worried the professional sound-bite creator that was interviewed. He was also a professor and believed in the importance of discussion. This is so true from a marketing perspective. Once your tweet has reached the right audience, for the right reasons…what’s next?

That’s why your social media, needs to be integrated into your marketing. How are you going to continue the conversation from that one tweet or sound bite that got their attention? If you are promising certain cost savings, can they find that from the link that you post or from your website?

I’m not saying that every tweet needs to be linked back into the marketing machine, but when you are reaching OUT to your audience, make sure that they can reach BACK and talk with you.

Categories: Social Media

Yes…I have shoes. Stepping out into social media.

Everyone knows the saying…”the cobbler’s kids have no shoes.” I’ve been living it in the self-marketing department.

I love marketing (and shoes), but I don’t have time to write (or shop). I’ve been so busy getting my company blog up and off the ground, along with the social media and video strategies, that I’ve had no time to blog. Or so I think.

As I’ve discovered the joys again of online shopping and how a few minutes can bring me more shoes, so too will a few minutes each day bring me a clearer mind about how to market more effectively. I have been so busy executing, that I haven’t had time to explore, ponder and hypothesize about new ways to engage prospects and customers. However, my last 12 months have provided a wealth of information in terms of things I’ve tried and learned.

So it’s time to share. Going into the new year, we are overwhelmed by data, predictions and wrap-ups. One that caught my eye was about Facebook overpasses Google in terms of views. I know that I log into Facebook first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I use Google for my searches, but I’m immediately off to the site that I’m interested in. That’s why I will be investing more time in improving my company’s Facebook presence, along with other social media properties.

2010 was the year of building and creating the foundation. It was also filled with measurement. That will be the basis of some future posts. I learned FROM the measurements and I learned ABOUT measurements. 2011 will be getting more strategic and trying new ideas. I’ve struggled to find where our audience likes to hang out on the Internet and have had more misses than hits. But they are out there and are starting to engage.

Categories: General

Are you a mobile worker? More etiquette tips

Although I have a desk job, as a marketer, often with remote teams and managers, it often doesn’t matter where I work. I like the interactions in the office, but I also relish the focus, distraction-less drive that I get when I’m working remote. I prefer a coffee shop over working at home, because I like the buzz of activity. Even in college, I preferred studying in the coffee house, rather than the library. It was more stimulating.

Yesterday’s post  by GigaOM on office tips, made me think of some of my own. I’ve enjoyed tips from sites like:



In reading these, I had thought of some more. My tips are:

  1. Share the power: Make sure that your battery is charged, bring an extra battery, bring an iPad with long battery life, or use the outlet only when you need to, making sure to share. Having only one outlet was a great way to restrict laptop users a few years ago.
  2. Take the smallest table possible if you aren’t expecting guests.
  3. Keep your area tidy – that includes trash, food, and clutter – paper and electronic
  4. Tweet, Foursquare, Facebook, or whatever about the establishment, giving them a little free marketing, since you are using their space.
  5. Be polite to everyone around you. Remember that you are a guest; not the owner or host/hostess.
Categories: General