Six videos that work and their lessons for comms people

Video can cut through and make a connection like no other medium. The smartphone in people's pocket means they are snacking on short videos like never before. Good news? You can make video too. Here's some inspiration. 

by Dan Slee

Here's good news and bad news. First, the bad news. people aren't reading your press release. They're watching video.

Ofcom say that 66 per cent of UK adults in 2015 have a smartphone in their pocket and 42 per cent are watching short videos. That means they are twice as likely to watch a clip shared on social media using their phone than they are to watch a TV show.

Want the good news? You can make video too using the smartphone in your pocket with a bit of learning and experimenting.

Here's six clips I like that show how video is being used. Some are more polished than others. They all work.

YouTube: Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care

When a US hospital looked to encourage their staff to consider their colleagues and hospital users they didn’t turn to an all staff email. They turned to video.

They looked at telling the stories of people passing through the hospital. On the surface, they just look like people. But each one has their own story highlighted in text.

A child hopping down the corridor ‘Ears all better! Finally!’ raises a smile.

A porter pushing a trolley? ‘Tomorrow, first vacation in years.’

A medic in a lift? 'Just found out he's going to be a Dad.'

A mother and daughter petting a dog they bump into in the corridor? The mother ‘Husband terminally ill.’

The daughter? ‘Visiting Dad for the last time.’

There is an emotional kick in seeing human stories scroll past you. Some make you smile, some make you remember. I’ve not watched it properly all the way through without crying manly tears once. There isn’t a single story attached to any of the two dozen or more people that you can’t relate to. There’s also a range of emotion that they all have from happiness and joy to sadness, fear and grief.

But what I really like about it is that someone turned to video to tell a story rather than use the tried and tested channels like posters an email from the chief executive. It was also supposed to be internal but has more than two million YouTube views.

What's the lesson? That human stories work.

Periscope: German journalist uses Periscope to broadcast from a column of refugees

The advantage of Periscope is that it can deal with realtime events in realtime. There isn’t space for editing. German newspaper Das Bild sent Paul Ronsheimer to accompany refugees and used Periscope to broadcast live. One film was viewed 90,000 times. This 16 minute YouTube film is a record of some of the footage.

What's the lesson? That sometimes just being on the scene with a smartphone is enough to tell the story.

YouTube: Real Dove Beauty Sketches

This is more polished coming from a brand but it uses the idea of real people. First, they describe themselves. Then someone else describes them. An FBI forensic artist makes a portrait based on both descriptions. The purpose? To stress that we often don’t value our beauty.

What's the lesson? Human stories, yet again.


Facebook: Sandy Dockerty's cooking club 

Bake Off contestant Sandy Docherty runs a cooking club for pupils after school. The teacher was filmed by Bradford City Council on a short film by comms officer Albert Freeman posted to Facebook and YouTube as she taught the children. It's a lovely film made in-house for nothing and is getting a healthy number of views. It captures the children's enthusiasm and their parents sharing and re-sharing no doubt does wonders for the viewing figures.

(Click the the link to navigate to Facebook to view the video.) 

What's the lesson? You can make an engaging film with a smartphone.

Twitter: Station Commander Hardiman tells Capital why the fire at Birmingham market spread so quickly

If you have an iphone you can edit and upload via Twitter’s own video app. If you are android you have to shoot, edit and post within This works because we have the firefighter telling in less than 20 seconds the reasons for a serious incident.

What's the lesson? Realtime video of an incident doesn't have to be polished.


Facebook: Gun control opens up a gun store to make a point

Sixty per cent of Americans think having a gun will make them safer. But the stats of what happens don't bear that out.

They could have recorded a hectoring video and provided enough bloody evidence to have made a point. Instead, they opened up a shop and filmed people and their reactions when they were offered a gun and each model's history.

"Here's our most popular gun, it's a 22 calibre six inch revolver. It's also a gun a five-year-old found in his parents house and went downstairs and shot his nine month old brother."

What's the lesson? Creativity and human stories works.

(Click the link to navigate to Facebook to watch the video.) 

Dan Slee is co-creator of comms2point0.

  • By public demand we're running a new round of Essential Video Skills for Comms workshops with Steven Davies. We are in Cardiff on November 12, London on November 26 and Birmingham on January 28. For more information and to book click here. 


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