TAKIN’ IT TO THE STREETS – ON VIDEO

Mike O'Connell

When you think of a corporate video for a website, what comes to mind? 

A marketing piece? Something very polished showing a product, a service or a new practice your client specializes in can make an impact on the industry.

A vision piece? Your CEO is your best brand ambassador, so an interview-style video where he or she offers perspective on the company or the industry as a whole can get your message across clearly. 

Or perhaps a technical whiteboard piece? Techies love to dig into details. Having an engineering manager script out how a product really works forges instant connections.

These are all highly effective vehicles for engagement. But there are other quirky, fun ways to use video to engage audiences with your brand. Today, we’re going to discuss one of those: man-on-the-street interviews.

Essentially, these are what TV news programs have built an industry on. An anchor person reads a headline, then the anchor cuts to the reporter, live at the scene with reaction from the people. The reporter introduces footage of several Q&As she did at the scene in the last hour, and snippets of the interviews stream rapid-fire, offering the viewer a brighter, more colorful take on what could be an otherwise blasé headline.

In marketing, these kinds of collages accomplish pretty much the same purpose: They add color. Dropping a video of this type on your company's website, or on YouTube, in the middle of a patch of marketing, vision and whiteboard segments, gives the viewer a lighter, more conversational perspective on whatever message you’re trying to get across.

But these kinds of videos can do much more. They can give the viewer a third-party perspective about an issue that’s important to your brand. Because man-on-the-street interviews were pioneered by newscasts, they exhibit an “independent” vibe. What does the public think? What’s the buzz? Let’s go to the people and find out.

pexels-photo-89118.jpegSource: pexels.com used under CC license.

What subjects should you interview people about? There are plenty of choices.

You could query them about your product directly. If you have a truly cutting-edge app that people can try on the spot, great. Maybe you have a food product people can sample or a zany-looking hat that people might want to try on. If you’re going to market your product directly in a setting like this, it will look like a commercial. Which is OK, but you’d rather have this kind of video be seen as offbeat and funny rather than sales-y.

A better idea is to do a Q&A about an issue that’s tangentially related to what your client does. If you’re a mobile payments provider, perhaps you engage people on what frustrates them about today’s payment processes. If you sell engagement rings, wouldn’t it be interesting to hear stories about how different people proposed? Tales of payment frustrations or starry-eyed proposals soften viewers up, making them more willing to look around at more targeted content about your brand.

PAN did one of these Q&A-type videos for a client around college graduation time. We took an offbeat approach, tapping into an issue rather than delivering a specific product pitch.

The video, for contingent workforce technology provider SAP Fieldglass, queried college students about the job market. Students talked about their desire for job flexibility, work culture and the ability to try out jobs and careers before settling down. The video didn’t talk specifically about SAP Fieldglass technology, but it did show how some members of the work force of tomorrow like some of the things contingent work has to offer.

The man-on-the-street video served as color for a larger marketing campaign called Work Force Tips Your Professors Won’t Tell You. The campaign included a series of blogs featuring thoughts from SAP Fieldglass workers about their own experiences in contract jobs, the positive benefits they pulled from contingent jobs, and their advice for current graduates heading into the job market.

What kind of video Q&A collage would you create?

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