Video Matters Now More Than Ever

rebeccaThis commentary, written by Indiana Chamber VP Rebecca Patrick, originally appeared on Inside INdiana Business.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, exactly what is a video worth? That’s a question more and more organizations have been asking in the last few years.

We’ve all seen something “go viral” on YouTube and make its way around social media and even the traditional news. And the frequency of business emails with video content continues to rise – and with good reason: Consumer surveys reveal those emails are noticeably more effective.

The list goes on and on about the emergence and power of video messaging, whether it’s used for external marketing or rallying the troops inside your company. The population in general – thanks to continued technology advances – is increasingly more visual in how it wants to receive information.

In 2014, the Indiana Chamber opted to devote space in its office to a video studio. We built it with three types of communications in mind: 1) messages to our 17,000 members and investors; 2) public policy advocacy to a broad, public audience and 3) media-ready footage.

The studio was possible for us – and for other businesses our size – because the equipment prices have come down to meet the demands of the masses who want to film videos for webcasts and more. So a suitable video camera, lighting equipment, teleprompter and accessories for our studio were quite affordable.

But before we made that leap, we did our homework. We talked to member companies in the communications/marketing field and to videographers to make sure our studio would be capable of doing what we wanted.

Over the last 18 months, the Indiana Chamber has produced more than 50 videos – ranging from legislative calls to action and television commentaries to event promotions and membership testimonials.

Tom Easterday, our current chairman of the board of directors who is executive vice president at Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. in Lafayette, believes video messaging is “effective for communicating with a lot of different generations; it can be used as part of social media, as part of your web site and direct communication.”

At Subaru, Easterday films various videos – many for internal use.

“Frequently we will have messages we will need to get out to our associates before it breaks in the press or before the rumor mill starts. We’ve found that having our own in-house closed-circuit television system and utilizing video allows us to get the same message out to all of our associates at the same time. It’s a very valuable communications tool in that regard,” he explains.

“It helps us be more effective in getting associates to understand what is happening, and gets their buy-in and cooperation regarding whatever the next move is we need to make as a company… It’s a very clear message instead of hearing it second or third hand, or via written communication, which may or may not be read.”

Subaru has also used video to maximize the time of its dealers and suppliers. The company produced a five-minute video introduction on the plant when dealers from across the United States were arriving with limited time on their hands. A virtual tour of the facility is also available on the company web site.

Easterday says videos are a welcome option for material that is “very difficult to put into print or would be tedious to read on a web site.”

He also encourages companies to not dismiss video production out of concern over price.

“There are a lot of companies out there that do them so you can shop around, or we have our own internal videographer. That can definitely cut the cost down,” Easterday shares. “But if you shop around and ask the communications companies to provide you samples of their work, they will do that.”

John Green Talks About Authenticity at ExactTarget Connections Conference

Indianapolis resident John Green, most famous for authoring the best-selling book “The Fault in Our Stars” — and a series of notable Crash Course videos about history, among other things — gave the keynote address at ExactTarget’s popular Connections conference yesterday. Other speakers included TV writer/actress Mindy Kaling and rapper/seven-time Grammy winner Will.I.Am.

Nervous to Fly? Flight Attendant Gives Big Laughs Before Takeoff

One of my favorite parts of journalism and writing is that most of the stories I get to tell are all different – I’m learning or doing something new almost every day.

Not every career is afforded that fun bonus. So, what happens when you’re in a job that requires you to do and say the same things several times per day (albeit in a variety of locations)? You mix it up and have fun with it, especially if you’re this Southwest Airlines flight attendant, currently making the rounds in her own viral video.

She is delivering the safety instruction speech prior to the plane taking off – and, instead of droning on with less than five people paying attention, she surprises the guests with a comedic version of the directions.

Her zingers include “Wear your seat belt tight and low across your hips, like my grandmother wears her support bra” and “flight attendants are coming by, hoping you’ll tell them how good looking they are,” and “as you know, it’s a no smoking, no whining, no complaining flight.”

This line is my favorite, in the middle of the “if the cabin loses pressure and you have to put on your oxygen mask” part: “If you’re traveling with small children, we’re sorry. If you’re traveling with more than one child, pick out the one that you think might have the most earning potential down the road.”

By the end of her routine, the plane full of people was smiling, laughing, and giving her a round of applause. I’m sure it helped to put them all at ease – especially those who are nervous at the beginning of a flight.

Watch her stand-up gold below — and talk about great customer service!


Mike Rowe: Society Has Declared a ‘War on Work’

A sheep farm. It was one of many experiences Rowe has had with the show Dirty Jobs, where he goes into an industry as an apprentice for the day, watches a worker do the job and then he does it himself. There’s no scripting, no rehearsing. There’s one take for him to do the job.

Before going to this particular sheep farm in Colorado, Rowe did research because he knew castration was going to be part of his experience. He called the Humane Society and PETA and other groups to determine the “normal” and “correct” way that was to be done.

But when he got to the farm, his mentor put a lamb on a stand, whipped out a knife, cut off the tail and then BIT OFF the parts. Rowe said he was blown away. Rowe then insisted on doing it his way (with a rubber band that takes a week to do the job). He watched the rubber banded sheep as it skulked around in misery and the other sheep as it was prancing around.

He said if he was wrong about something like that, what other “normal” ways of thinking could be challenged? First is that hard-working jobs are undesirable.

“People with dirty jobs are happy,” he said. “As a group, they are the happiest people I know. Roadkill picker-uppers whistle while they work, I did it with them!”

Another, something he calls “the worst advice he ever got,” was to follow his passion. He questioned the catchphrases of corporate America that everyone agrees equal success: “team work, determination.” He questioned “safety first”: “What if OSHA got it wrong and it’s really ‘safety third’?”

His ending theory: “We’ve declared war on work as a society. We have waged this war on at least four fronts. Certainly in Hollywood, the way we portray working people on TV, it’s laughable. Madison Avenue, what’s the message coming out of there? ‘Life would be better if you didn’t have to work so hard, if you got home a little earlier, if you could retire a little sooner.’ Washington – I can’t even begin to talk about the deals and policies in place that affect the bottom line reality of jobs because I don’t really know, I just know that’s a front in this war. And then Silicon Valley, how many people have an iPhone or Blackberry right now? We are plugged in and connected, but innovation without imitation, the ability to produce it, is virtually worthless.”

Now, Rowe has a campaign to talk about manual labor and skilled jobs and to erase the stigma associated with this kind of honorable work. Check out his current initiative, Profoundly Disconnected.

And you can watch Mike Rowe’s full TED talk on this subject:

Avon High School Rocks the House

How about a little change of pace when it comes to a story about a school? Usually, it’s a lot of doom and gloom with school stories these days…school standards, budget cuts, failing schools, etc.

But, Avon High School just did something pretty cool when it got what appears to be the entire student body, teachers and administrators involved in an adorable pop music mash-up featuring a pretty diverse mix of the school in Hendricks County.

The Avon High School 2014 Lip Dub featured band and drama kids, sports teams from lacrosse to cheerleading and everything in between, to color guard and many others.

I’ll be the first to admit that I had to Google “lip dub.” Alas, I’m not a teenager any more. (No, wait. Thankfully, I’m not a teenager anymore.) Anyway, Wikipedia says it’s a “type of video that combines lip synching and audio dubbing to make a music video.” The other significant part of a lib dub is that these are often done in a single, unedited shot that usually travels through a number of rooms. Color me impressed.

What a fun way to boost school morale. Everyone in the video is happily participating. Sure, there’s probably a few broody kids in the back – this is high school, after all. But there were smiles, dancing and cheers all around. Kudos to Avon High School for giving us all a remembrance of what it’s like to be young and young at heart today!

Now, excuse me while I go plan an intricately choreographed lip dub featuring my daughter’s stuffed animals.

Oh Indy, Let’s Loosen Up a Bit

If you paid attention to the news at all in Indianapolis last week, most likely you’ve heard about the “Indy Super Bowl Shuffle” video and surrounding hullabaloo.

I vaguely remembered a co-worker saying something about a “Super Bowl Shuffle,” but in all honesty didn’t pay attention – I’ve never actually seen the original. I was born the year the thing came out, am not a Chicago Bears fan and have never apparently been bored enough to look it up on YouTube.

The Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association (ICVA) created a parody video called the “Indy Super Bowl Shuffle” to demonstrate all of the city’s hotels and amenities. An article in Thursday’s Indianapolis Star said the video was created to attract meeting planners who are headed to Chicago for some big tradeshow. And, apparently on the level of attracting these planners to take a look here, it worked – at least one is now considering Indianapolis for a big convention.

But after an apparent backlash from Internet-goers, the ICVA took down the video from YouTube (though it’s back up now and linked at the bottom of this blog). I’ve read some of the comments posted and most are just downright mean and nasty. Someone even took the time to make a Facebook page petitioning to take the video down.

Finally, I got the chance to watch the five-minute-long video, expecting to see the most ridiculous thing of my entire life. And you know what? It wasn’t great.

But it wasn’t as terrible as everyone made it out to be. I caught myself giggling and rolling my eyes and thinking about all of the great hotels we have here in Indy. It also reminded me of every Weird Al Yankovich parody I’ve ever seen and people fawn over that guy – something I’ve never understood.

All of the people in the video just looked like they were having fun, and obviously this wasn’t ever something to be taken very seriously. We get to host a Super Bowl – we should use that to our advantage at every possible turn. And, the video did exactly that: it built up interest in Indianapolis to a variety of convention planners around the country.

Have we completely lost the ability to laugh at ourselves? I’m thinking there are real issues that we should be concerned about – and a silly video promoting Indy’s hospitality district is not one of them.

In the grand scheme of things, this will all likely be forgotten. But we need to remember to relax and regain that ability to just have fun and be silly. It’s not going to kill us. Watch the video below and decide for yourself.

How Will We Watch TV in Several Years?

Gary Vaynerchuk is well-known on Twitter as a social media authority. He got his start as a wine expert (I believe), but snowballed his social media presence into some serious juggernautery (not a word, but I’m fine with it). In the above video, he offers his vision of how we’ll be watching television in a few years. Just thought it was interesting.