In crafting creative approaches for HR outreach, RHED Pixel has created a new business model for corporate video. They have also discovered time and money-saving approaches useful for every producer.
Creative professionals know the impact that video has when it comes to changing minds, hearts and attitudes. Nothing is more compelling or effective than powerful visuals combined with meaningful words. With all of this possibility for persuasive message delivery, why then is video in the workplace frowned upon so often? Many corporations have blocked access to most web video portals. Some even go as far as to remove media player software. Their concerns seem to focus on reducing wasted time and protecting employees from inappropriate materials.
THE CHALLENGE WE FACED
We were approached by Community Health Charities of America (CHC), which represents more than sixty health organizations, and helps them reach their funding goals through coordinated workplace-giving campaigns. Over the past five years, CHC has raised more than than $340 million for its member charities. The vision of the organization is to improve the lives of people affected by disability or chronic disease.
In order to succeed, CHC needs to bring a strong message to more workplaces. They raise critical funds by uniting donors in the workplace with America's most recognized health charities. The group does all of this while keeping their overhead costs around 6%, which is exceptionally low for a charity.
Instead of just asking for donations, however, the group wanted to harness the strengths of its member health charities (health information, personal support and community services) to deliver a powerful new tool to help American companies engage employees in health: a comprehensive web and workplace-based health initiative called Health Matters at Work. The objective is to help businesses, employees and their families learn about the prevention of chronic disease, as well as how to manage chronic health conditions more effectively.
My company, RHED Pixel, has produced over six thousand videos for the web in the last decade. Podcasting and web video series are an effective tool that we regularly use to both entertain and inspire. Usually, we are targeting a receptive audience that wants video -- in this case we were not. The corporate audience was leery about letting video into the workplace.
It was quickly determined that we needed to design the project with the gatekeepers in mind. The video series had to meet key objectives if we were ever going to reach the end user.
- Genuine Education. The topics for each episode were truly designed to promote wellness for employees and the communities in which they work and live.
- Effective Delivery. The goal was to produce a podcast series that could be seen by many individuals in a variety of locations, including mobile). The videos needed to be deliverable via internal networks as well as customized players. (More on this later.)
- Respect the Audience. These educational videos needed to be consumable during a single lunch break. The goal was to capture people during their lunch hour and give them a complete experience. The shows also needed to have a very structured approach, so that they felt consistent, like a regular afternoon talk show.
- Affordable Production. Community Health Charities prides itself on being extremely cost effective. This video series needed to meet budget demands.
- Advance the Cause. The videos needed a strong branding identity. In order to be effective, Community Health Charities needed to bolster its name recognition so as to drive charitable donations.
- Acknowledge the Delivery Medium. Longer episodes were cut in half for some delivery sites which delivery limits no more than 10 minutes. We knew the importance of formatting the message to fit the function. If a show had more than two parts, viewership would drop.
DEVELOPMENT: VOLUME LEADS TO EFFICIENCY
With a clear target in mind, we set out to create a web video series. Working with the client, we brainstormed a series of topics that would appeal to the human resource departments of large companies, as well as to the end viewer. A wide range of topics were developed, including diabetes awareness, HIV, organ donation, men's health, and cancer.
A host for the show was recruited so that each episode would have a consistent voice and style. We recruited Jerry Franz, an adjunct professor in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at George Washington University. Franz was also a volunteer for CHC and was truly capable of delivering important information in a knowledgeable, yet entertaining way.
To serve as guests, CHC turned to its member charities. The member organizations of Community Health Charities were pleased at the opportunity to further advance their messages and awareness of medical issues. The podcast was quickly embraced and supported with an influx of qualified experts to serve as guests.
Each nonprofit was responsible for sending its own expert -- some drew on local experts (many associations are based in the Washington, DC area where we are located) while others flew theirs in.
Because the videos were seen as a giant partnership, costs were very fairly distributed between all parties. In fact, much of the production costs were sponsored by private industry who felt the video series were worthwhile. Companies like MedImmune and The Merck Company Foundation have helped fund the video series as a grant donation to CHC.
STREAMLINING THE PROCESS
While shooting multiple shows in a day is nothing new for a talk show, we took it to new levels. Two consecutive shoot days were scheduled with an aggressive production schedule. Each day was carved into four shooting blocks. Guests would first participate in a three-person panel discussion with the host, then they'd be interviewed individually. This warranted four episodes for each two-hour shooting block, a tremendous return that generated approximately 30 episodes in two days.
Pooling production and scheduling multiple guests let us create an efficient workflow. Because we were able to pack the schedule, the cost per episode plummeted.