seven lessons CEOs can memorise from President Obama’s video strategy

Source:   —  April 10, 2016, at 11:09 PM

How to connect the network Regardless of your political orientation, it's tough to argue against the success of the digital media strategy that President Obama and his team implemented to be engaged in millions of Americans over the past two terms.

seven lessons CEOs can memorise from President Obama’s video strategy

Vitaly Shter is the director of product marketing at Vimeo.

How to connect the network

Regardless of your political orientation, it's tough to argue against the success of the digital media strategy that President Obama and his team implemented to be engaged in millions of Americans over the past two terms.

Since Franklin Roosevelt’s famous radio fireside chats in the one thousand nine hundred thirty, presidents have always aimed to be engaged in the American people by speaking directly to their hopes, dreams and fears. But President Obama was able to leverage the opportunities of digital age technologies (such as the Internet, social networks and online video streaming) to become, seemingly, the most engaging, transparent and communicative president the world has ever known, reaching audiences that ordinarily wouldn't be paying attention.

CEOs of companies, while dealing with challenges of different scope than that of the president, are in essence trying to achieve similar goals, such as: aligning the masses behind a strategy or an initiative, communicating and explaining decisions to other stakeholders internally or publicly, encouraging individuals to work tough toward common goals, communicating confidently at times of crises, defending strategies and agendas and portraying a positive self-image.

Therefore, many CEOs and corporate communications teams could borrow a few best practices from the president, and apply these examples to their corporate communication strategies.

Clarify ownership over the video strategy and distribute appropriate resources

The most necessary portion in jump-starting an effective video-centric communication strategy is assigning clear ownership with an adequate quantity of empowerment and resources to reach video strategy goals.

The White House, for example, appointed Silicon Valley veteran Jason Goldman as the first-ever White House Chief Digital Officer, which showcased the emphasis the White House keep on digital media for its overall strategy. By emphasizing the importance of video and assigning clear ownership and resources, the White House has essentially become its own media production company, using cutting-edge technology to advance the president’s agenda, policies and initiatives, such as healthcare reform.

Most undertaking customers appoint the video production task to corporate communication departments, which are equipped with visionary and expert personnel, appropriate budgets and the backing of the CEO (as well as the IT department) to assistance them attain their communication and engagement goals.

Utilize video where it drives the most value — beyond the traditional corporate events

For previous U. S. presidents it was mostly about working with the traditional media (i. e. news agencies, TV networks, newspapers) and occasionally addressing the nation over the TV during the State of the Union, or from the White House during special occasions. Not so for President Obama.

Leading up to his latest State of the Union address, which was streamed over the Internet, the White House published a series of its own videos — including one video of Obama aboard Air Force One announcing a community college tuition reform map (8.4 million views). Additionally, they used less-traditional video communication, such as a Google Hangout session where Obama was answering questions submitted by regular people at residence over video.

Such direct video-based communication worked well for Obama. Videos that support initiatives like the “It’s On Us” pledge (to prevent sexual assault on college campuses) and climate modify have attracted millions of viewers and pledgers online (one video had more than 42 million views on Facebook, making it the most-watched Facebook video ever published by a U. S. government or political entity).

Similarly, corporate communication departments representing the CEO should implement a progressive video strategy that goes beyond streaming quarterly investor relations and downhill presentations. While these are crucial and should be flawlessly delivered to the global employee base, these are “table-stakes” for today’s modern internal corporate communication strategies.

Undertaking video content nowadays frequently includes everything from live and on-demand video addresses from senior management, to “ video fireside chats” with the CEO or other senior managers (similar to Obama’s Google Hangout sessions), to video news flashes about what's happening in the company, informational videos about new product launches, deep-dives into introducing specific departments or projects, video contests, variety initiatives videos and many more creative projects that drive engagement and allow a back wind to the corporate pride and a feeling of being “in the loop.”

For CEOs specifically, this means using video where it drives the most value, such as promoting initiatives, communicating in crisis situations, showing transparency by sharing information openly and authentically by recording video addresses from anywhere on any topic and connecting with  employees on a personal level and recognizing them for their achievements.

Launch an undertaking video portal

In two thousand-fifteenth alone, White House executive posted more than four hundred videos to YouTube and Vimeo; the videos have been viewed for a total of more than 174.497.605 minutes. The CEOs of America necessity their own undertaking video portal to engage their employees — employees who are increasingly expecting consumer-grade experiences at work.

To that end, many leading enterprises deploy internal video portals where all communication videos are centrally hosted, accessible by all employees with varying permissions levels, segregated into channels and categories and where all content is easily searchable — which is very similar to the way it's on Vimeo and YouTube, only with the addition of enterprise-grade capabilities such as SSO integration and tight security.

Such portals are extremely effective for communication and information sharing, not only for the CEO and senior management, but also for the all organization, where departments love training, HR, Sales, Finance and IT all have found unique utilize cases to drive their day-to-day business with video.

Video + social is a winning combination to maximize reach

Obama’s digital strategy team is using all social venues possible — including YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, etc. — to target specific messages to specific audiences, while vastly increasing the overall reach.

Similarly, as our workforce is becoming increasingly digitally native, senior managers should adapt to the social trends and communicate with employees via social mediums within the organization. It’s not just about the aforementioned undertaking video portal; progressive organizations have also been deploying Facebook-like social business software such as Jive, IBM Connections, Yammer, Slack and, most recently, Facebook at Work.

These tools allow advanced information sharing capabilities within the social context, while all sensitive content remains behind the firewall. Progressive corporate communications departments are increasingly using these tools to communicate with employees and to create a more transparent corporate culture. When you combine these social tools with video content, you maximize engagement.

Two-way conversation

Social media is all about a two-way conversation — people share information and their contacts consume it, comment on it, love it, share it and so on. It’s number different when it comes to video, but it’s not only about streaming videos to relevant audiences and soliciting their feedback via comments, shares and likes.

It should be a two-way conversation, whereby your audience can reply via their own videos, by producing “low production” UGC (user-generated content) videos — these frequently bring the most cost and maximize the effectiveness of many-to-many communication. One example is what the White House did with a video contest — the two thousand fifteen White House Learner Film Festival on “The Impact of Giving Back.”

Similarly, in the enterprise, it's not only about professionally produced videos but also about the videos produced using a webcam by the senior managers or by any employee. Grand examples from the corporate world are video messages to the team, how-to-videos, white-boarding sessions (here is an example of one of Obama’s staff members), video contests, etc.

This content is much easier to produce but is significantly more authentic than the professionally produced videos; hence, it becomes the “one tail” that drives cost and scales video communication and knowledge sharing.

Rely on other favorite leaders in your organization to relay necessary messages to the teams and to assistance align the organization behind a unified vision

For example, President Obama encourages not only his own staff to obtain in front of the camera to speak about policy topics (look Joe Biden’s video), but he also mobilized several YouTube stars to be engaged in their followers with policy-related topics.

The key is for CEOs to leverage other influential members of the organization to utilize video for driving impact and aligning employees behind the CEO’s strategies.

It’s not what you say, it’s how you declare it — be authentic!

Obama “humanized” himself by participating in videos that indicate him in the day-to-day routines of his position. He essentially opened his office to the nation by producing the W Wing Week show — a weekly episode that informs the audience about what's happening in the White House and in the Obama family life.

This doesn’t mean CEOs should open their personal lives for the all employee base to watch, but a few videos that indicate their personality and authenticity, exterior of what employees hear in a quarterly call, can certainly assistance set up more believe in the CEO and assistance employees relate to him/her. Connect with people at a personal level to become authentic and likable. Indicate them what you're love and what your interests are. For example: brewing beer in the White House or using humor.

The U. S. is going to the chosen a new president this year; it'll be fascinating to look what digital strategies and video practices the new president will adopt to be engaged in with the masses.

But for me it's equally fascinating to look how the CEOs of America are increasingly leveraging video technologies to attain their communication and engagement goals. It's very clear that nowadays you either be engaged in at scale or quickly become irrelevant, as CEOs and other leaders in the business world can number longer afford communicating with their employees via traditional means (quarterly calls, emails and an periodic blog).

Instead, they necessity to keep themselves out there by adopting a modern video-based communication strategy à la President Obama.

Featured Image: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

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