Insight by Richard Thomson

Knowing how to retain your staff is the biggest challenge for many of the comms professionals we speak to. With skills shortages, high employment and political uncertainty, good team members may well have more options than ever.

As part of our series on the most effective video strategies for business, we have pulled together 10 tips for engaging your colleagues – as well as the talent you want to attract. Here we cover prepping your film, while Part Two deals with the shoot and Part Three will cover post-production.

People stories help retain staff

There’s a phrase in business: ‘People buy from people’. Your people are your brand, so putting those that best represent your brand on film can be massively powerful.

Putting your people on film motivates colleagues, customers and recruits by:

  • demonstrating your company values
  • making people feel proud of themselves, their colleagues and what their company does
  • bringing your vision and strategy alive
  • encouraging them to share best practice stories and raise standards
  • showing customers stories of how much they rate your company
  • showing your brand personality through your people

Other than face to face, film is the best way of bringing your brand alive. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do, and people can get it wrong.

How do you make people stories?

1. Find the story

The first step is to find powerful stories that reflect your brand – that show your company’s human character and culture. Unearthing those people and their amazing stories is the most important step in how to retain staff with film. It’s also the most important one to get right.

People stories might come from colleagues or customers. Customer testimonials are the most influential, so don’t be afraid to ask them to feature. A satisfied client will often be more than happy to endorse what your business does.

You will need to hunt down the best stories, so actively ask people to send them in. Don’t just look in the work environment, some of your people will reflect your brand values in their own time. Life at HSBC is a great example of a brand covering everything from diversity to sporting achievements and weight loss. These narratives communicate powerful emotions that resonate with the brand’s values.

2. Research the story

If finding the story is the most important part of the film process, researching it is the most under-rated.

Filming is expensive so it is important to get the most from each shoot day. Brands can miss out on the best deal by filming without proper research, resulting in wasted budget. Good research costs less than a crew day, so it’s better value to prep the shoot carefully.

Smart research will include topic, locations and contributors. The result will be a crew who know how to make the most of the schedule and interviewees who are confident and well-briefed. It is possible to make an effective brand film on the hoof, but your budget will generate stronger and more predictable ROI with research.

Good research and a recce led to an extremely organised shoot on a story for Aviva, which we filmed in one day. Without the recce it would have used more crew days and added to the budget.

3. Find the best angle

Every comms professional knows that a story has a beginning, middle and an end. But how can that work amid a torrent of content on social media?

In our world of decreasing attention spans, the beginning needs to grab attention quickly. It could be something visual, or a hook at the start that makes people want to watch. In broadcast we talk about what question are you posing at the start, a question that the audience will want to keep watching to find the answer to. The same applies to brand film.

That’s partly why the research stage matters. It allows the creative team to look at the components of the story and work out the most powerful way to tell that story with the available elements.

This film from The New Zealand Police grabs the audience’s attention right from the start. The force chose an action-packed theme laced with humour that gets the tone just right.

With good pre-production, your film project will be built on strong foundations. Successful brand films deliver high ROI because video is uniquely able to generate a positive emotional response. It’s that emotional response that helps your business retain staff, but engaging content is rarely created in a hurry. If it is, good fortune plays its part.

So you’re all set to start filming. What are the expert tips to delivering your finished film in time and on budget? In Part Two of this article we look at the second key step in production: filming.

Click here to ask a question.

Richard Thomson

Richard is CEO of Kaptcha. He cut his teeth at the BBC, where he directed some of their biggest and most engaging shows including Top Gear, Crimewatch and Holiday. Bringing these skills to the corporate world, he then launched the multi award-winning HSBC TV. Today he harnesses the power of film to tell the engaging stories behind the brands, creating real change in the way audiences – internal and external - feel and think.

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