Author: Abby Cheesman | Co-Founder
Video is a powerful way to connect and share the stories of humanity that make up your company.
And, it’s the hottest thing on the inter-webs -- by next year, about 70% of mobile traffic will be video.
If you don't have a film producer on your team, or your video projects get put on the back burner with your corporate communications team, you may find yourself looking for outside help.
But, how do you find the right partner to create your workplace videos?
A question to ask yourself:
The good news is, you’ve got options! Finding the right partner is a matter of your budget, goals, visual style and identifying a team that is up to the task of creating a genuine glimpse inside of your company.
Aside from the obvious (gathering portfolio of their work, and ballpark pricing), we’ve put together a list of questions you might find helpful as you pick the right video partner for your team.
1. Can you walk me through your creative process?
Video can feel like a big undertaking: expensive, stressful and highly visible. If it’s your first go around, you probably have questions. Who do we ask to interview? Is this a good video background? How do I get my people comfortable to participate? How do we stay within my budget?
A good video partner has planned, filmed and edited videos inside of a company before. They should have a process. Ask them what materials they provide to help you align on video goals, storyboard, establish a visual treatment and create a field guide for filming. You should expect a video company to take the lead on most or all of these items. You’ll take a lead on identifying people to feature, booking a space at your location to film, and invite the key players to sign off on the plan. In post-production, you want to understand how stories are identified and which clips make it into the final cut. What opportunities do you have to weigh in on this?
You should also gauge how flexible their process is if you envision something that pushes creative boundaries...like filming an overnight truck driver during their actual shift at 3am.
2. Who owns our video footage?
This is a big one. Many video companies hold rights to your footage so you continue working with them, and/or require you to purchase the raw footage at an additional fee. Having a production company own your footage can be a big issue, especially if future creative, budgetary, or personality differences get in the way of your collaboration. Not only that, the raw footage is a gold mine of stories and visuals that never gets used. If you want the footage you pay your video partner to capture to be yours forever, make sure this is in your agreement. That goes for transcripts of all of your interviews, too. If you own your content, you can use it to create additional videos, make social media content, share with your friends in marketing, grab screen shots for a presentation, or force your family to watch with you on the weekends. Whatever fits your fancy.
3. How have you handled challenges specific to our industry?
Every workplace has constraints and considerations for filming. Your goal for workplace video is to create a genuine piece of content that’s captured in a way that honors people, privacy and safety. At the same time, you want to capture human stories that are visually beautiful and compelling. Ask your video partner how they plan for success in your environment.
If you are in healthcare, ask about how they handle capturing patient scenarios. For example, our team recruits stand-ins to play the role of patients so we can capture footage of nurses taking vitals or administering medicine without violating the privacy of real patients. In heavily regulated industries like aerospace or banking, we ask to have a compliance leader join us for planning and during filming. Your video partner should walk you through scenarios they’ve encountered in your industry to create a human-centered plan for filming.
4. Is editing automated with technology, or is there a human editor?
There are a number of video solutions to capture, share and publish workplace videos (which is awesome!). Some offer full production, some offer lightweight automated solutions. Understanding how video clips are captured and edited will be the key to figuring out which partner best fits your needs and budget.
Are you creating realistic job previews? Employee stories that help candidates see your values in action? Or maybe you’re in the market for quick social media or hiring manager videos. For the latter, you may want to film your own clips and submit them to a tech platform for editing. This works well for high volume videos, where you don’t need a lot of creative consultation. You may need guidance on putting together stories, capturing footage, and creating a compelling piece of content. Find out how this works with the partner you’re talking to. You may find that working with more than one video partner helps solve many of your content needs (lots of our clients do this, to great success!).
5. How do you incorporate our brand in videos?
Some companies have a very strong marketing brand and presence. Your marketing colleagues will probably have opinions on how the brand is visually represented. If you haven't thought to do so already, a good video partner will ask to involve your marketing colleagues early and often to ensure the video is 110% ready for airplay once you're finished. Ask your video partner how they plan to incorporate your brand into your videos. If you have video “bumpers” or treatments, your video partner should be willing to use those. If you don’t have assets available, ask your video partner if they’d be willing to create treatment for you that's in line with your brand. Send any existing videos that you’re trying to match style to the video team ahead of filming so they know exactly what you mean when you talk about that animated logo thingy at the end.
6. Tell me about your team. Who will film and edit?
If you want to tell diverse stories about your workplace, the best way to do that is through a diverse group of storytellers. Your video partner should be able to share the makeup of their team with you. Representation matters, so look for a team that reflects the diversity at your company, and the people you want to engage. You also want to understand everyone’s role during pre-production, filming and post-production so you can direct questions and feedback.
7. Walk me through a typical film day. What can I expect?
Film days are like birthday parties. Or weddings. Lots of planning and build up. Spending money, and keeping to a budget. A ton of moving parts, usually something unexpected, and typically a ton of fun.
Ask how a film day is structured: who shows up from the film team, their roles, who can help make decisions on the fly. This will help you figure out your team’s role and who may need to participate from your end. Gauge the video partner's flexibility if things don’t go as planned. Is it a team who needs a rigid structure to achieve your film goals? How realistically will a schedule play out in your own company? Do people come to meetings on time? Do you work in an industry like aviation, healthcare or customer service where the day often has unexpected changes? Your video partner should help you build a schedule that allows for flexibility you might need, but also captures the variety of footage needed for your videos. Lean on them to build the schedule, and you fill in any relevant details about your work schedules, customer busy times, or breaks!
8. How do you make people feel comfortable on camera?
The difference between a decent and a great video partner is the experience they create for your team as they capture your stories. Work is personal. Some of the best interviews get emotional. Filming can make even the most confident employee feel vulnerable or awkward.
Workplace video is NOT like filming a commercial. There are no actors or scripts here. So it is important to communicate what this video is about, who it's for, and why you are asking your colleagues to appear on camera. Once your people are in front of the camera, you want a producer who puts them at ease. A great producer designs an experience to help employees feel celebrated and prepared for filming. They should offer to get in touch with your employees ahead of filming to get to know each other, walk through what to expect, and answer questions your film star might have.
There are lots of ways to create employee stories on camera. My team and I are advocates of an ethnographic interview style, where we use a discussion guide, not a script. We leave space for discovery in our time with your featured employees. Ask your prospective partner how they do it, and pick a style that will make your colleagues most comfortable to share freely.
9. How do we review our video? How many edit cycles are included?
In the game of video review, there are lots of cooks in the kitchen. Legal, Marketing, Compliance probably all need to weigh in. Collecting, organizing, and interpreting feedback can be a huge headache. Find out what processes or tools your video partner uses to make it easy on you.
Find out how many rounds of edits you get before you get charged for them. We’ve found that for most corporate clients, 2 rounds of edits after the initial draft is the right amount. If you have lots of stakeholders, or an intensive legal review process, you might need 3-4. Find out up front what is included, and an estimated range of what additional revisions look like.
10. What language(s) does your film and editing team speak?
If you are a global company, or have candidates who may have a better experience viewing your content in their native language, this is a good time to ask your video partner about their language and translation capabilities. This will all come down to your needs. For example, a U.S. based company with locations in Latin America may prefer English and Spanish for interviews, and foreign language subtitles in Portugese. Fun fact - the most language translations we’ve created for one video was 13 -- for a global company hiring similar roles across the world.
11. How do you handle captions or subtitles?
Did you know a whopping 85% of videos on Facebook are watched without sound? I could go on all day about the virtues of captioning your video. Great video partners can help generate caption files, create foreign language subtitles, or burn captions into your video. Ask what’s included in the price, and evaluate whether you might need translations.
Author: Caroline Olsen | Lead Producer
We all want to provide an authentic window into our company -- what it’s like to work with us, a glimpse of the employee experience. We want to celebrate the real people that make work special.
Sharing photos is one way to provide an immersive and “real life” experience. But for the amateur photographer, sometimes time limits and lack of know-how get in the way. Sometimes, stock photos are just easier. Need a smiling face for the website? Boom, a million options at the click of a google search. A little picture for an advertisement? Stock me up.
But stock photos fail us. While beautifully lit and gloriously diverse, they’re not real. They don’t share the real stories of the people who make your work world go ‘round. Taking photos of your workplace doesn’t have to be difficult.
We take photos and videos for a living, so I asked some of our expert workplace photographer friends PJ and Joel to share their best tips on how to snap authentic photos of your own workplace.
1. Create your “wish list” of photographs.
PJ is on the Yelp culture team. She’s had a lot of interaction with people throughout the organization and at all levels. And, she leveraged those connections to identify a wish list of who and what to capture.
We wanted the visuals used in our internal communications to accurately represent the multidimensionality of our employees. This encompassed all the situational examples we knew we’ve needed in the past and a few we’d only dreamed of. These include Yelpers meeting the way we meet (rarely in boardrooms wearing suits and ties) and working the way we work (often standing up!). -PJ
Now you can see these photos in everything from trainings and welcome decks, to all hands on meetings. The Yelp team couldn’t be more stoked about their library of real photos of their employees.
2. Capture candids over staged photographs.
Joel is a photographer and social media content producer at Skill Scout. He has had a longtime passion for capturing stories behind the camera. And, has a particular knack for capturing movement and expressions.
I look for facial expressions, and how they change while performing different tasks. I pay attention to body language and even focus on the skill a person has for their craft. I try to capture the person candidly in action rather than a staged pose. I get excited when I can capture a person in action, their facial expressions, and body gestures all in one. I feel this tells a good story of what a person does, how they do it and even, how it makes them feel. Same goes for environments—I try to find the details within the general image. What are the details and dynamics within an environment that makes it interesting? - Joel
3. Don’t try to capture something you are not.
The second you try to emulate another company or another photo, is the second you start losing what makes your company authentic. Take time to think about what makes your workplace special and what makes your people happy, then amplify that. You want to showcase what someone from the outside could recognize the second they came in. Another tip I would give is to try your best to accurately represent your workforce. You want your employee, above all, to look at these photos and see themselves in them. - PJ
4. Prepare your people ahead of time for what they can expect.
Caroline is a Lead Producer at Skill Scout. But her passion for photography goes all the way back to high school. For her, building rapport and trust is key to ensuring a successful outcome.
The most important part of the prep is to make sure you've let people know who you are, why you're coming, and when you will be there. You can do this over email or even do a video intro if in-person isn't an option. When you don't come as a surprise and people understand who you are and what you'll need them to do, they'll feel a lot more comfortable when you come with your camera. - Caroline
5. Get to know your people. A little conversation goes a long way.
I introduce myself and empathize with them when they, more often than not say, “I’m not good with pictures.” I smile, spark up casual conversation and find a way for them to share a story, though the questions that I ask. Always within conversation, I’ll ask questions about them: “How long have you worked here? What do you like about what you do? Do you live in the area? How’d you get to doing what you do?” I’ve found that leading them in conversing about themselves already gets them in the mindset of telling stories. This, I’ve found, helps in easing a person and even makes storytelling photography more fluid. - Joel
Never underestimate the value of building in the time to talk with people before you take their photo. Everyone likes to feel like someone cares about and is noticing the work they put in every day. A little conversation can go a long way. Not only will they feel more comfortable and you'll capture more authentic photos, but you could also uncover stories about the workplace that you would have never known before, and your job as a photographer will be much easier when you know what to highlight. - Caroline
6. Let the people guide you. Expect (delightful) surprises.
Understand what makes their workplace special to them. There might be artifacts or special spots with memories or events associated with them that an outsider might miss. Once I understand what people are most excited to show off and feel most sentimental about, it's my job to capture those feelings in a photo. I've also photographed a few workplaces that did not necessarily have the most exciting physical space, but had a great culture and vibe. In that case, the focus is more on personal interaction, making people feel comfortable with you, and getting creative with lighting, angles and possibly photographing off-site. - Caroline
7. Create opportunities for people to interact with each other.
It doesn’t hurt if some of the people you chose have already interacted with each other on some level. I’ve found a lot of success in providing prompts that allow subjects to interact with each other rather than with me, the photographer. - PJ
8. Take more photos than you need.
Especially for beginning photographers, take way more photos than you think you need. Photograph each scene from multiple different angles, and don't be afraid to get close up just as much as you move back to capture the whole environment. -Caroline
9. Workplace photography requires a different approach and mindset.
When capturing workplace photos you have to use a holistic approach. Shooting portraits, couples, or even street photography typically allows you to focus on one subject you want to tell a story for. Workplace photos typically include several subjects that aim to represent a place that can be a home for many. Keeping that in mind, creating natural environments where people can be their whole selves is key. - PJ
Work is where we spend a significant part or our day, let alone our lives. Because of this, we all develop a way of flowing within our work spaces. I try to pay attention to the details of one’s work. Not just what one does but how they do it.
Capturing workplace photos is more than just taking a good picture. This is about telling a story. As Joel explains “constantly ask yourself, “What is the story within this picture?” Let story guide you, help you and support the overall message you’re trying to convey. And in this case, it’s a story that can help candidates and employees alike see the possibilities of where they can take their careers at your company.
Meet our workplace photography experts