Last month I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to spend a few days in New York City to sharpen some of my video production skills at the 2011 NY Post Production Conference. Now, whenever I travel to New York, I expect to be somewhat humbled while staring out over the wing of the airplane as it descends on a gridlock of concrete and skyscrapers. However, this trip’s most humbling experience came at a somewhat surprising moment.
Seated in my first of six video production sessions of the day, I was eagerly awaiting the next informative piece of industry insight when I suddenly found myself a victim of a shocking stereotype. Without even a hint of uncertainty, the speaker confidently proclaimed that, “When it comes to producing corporate videos for clients, I hate working with the PR chick.” As everyone in the room began to chuckle, as if there was some shred of truth to the ridiculous statement, the only PR guy in the room slouched deep into his chair.
I wanted to raise my hand and fire back, honestly I did, but the comment made me feel like I was starring in some low-budget indie spinoff of the action movie “Behind Enemy Lines.” So instead of calling out the inaccuracy of his remarks, I just listened.
The speaker went on to support his claim saying that “PR chicks” get so concerned about the talent delivering each and every scripted message point flawlessly, that they often hijack the emotion and authenticity right out of the video. Besides wanting to hand out my business card to everyone in the room to prove that the vast industry known as public relations does include at least one male, I found myself starting to empathize – to some extent – with the “PR chick” sentiments being shared amongst the group. Maybe it was my understanding of video production’s ever-present challenge to capture honest human emotion, especially in a corporate setting, that allowed me to see it through their eyes. Or maybe it was the simple fact that I was outnumbered 35:1. The point is, they had a point.
Our industry takes great pride in ALWAYS being prepared to know exactly what to say in any given situation. We’re polished, articulate and our attention to detail is second to none. With this though, comes the tendency to sometimes be a little too focused on what is being said rather than how it’s being said.
For the more experienced professionals, rattling off 10 different message points on live TV is effortless. For the less seasoned, it is the job of “PR chick” to understand the threshold of what can be internalized and then clearly communicated back with a camera lens in their face.
Having your finger on the pulse of not just what, but also how much your spokesperson or client can effectively communicate to your audience is the key to an engaging video, as well as an effective communications campaign.
The next time you find yourself in a message training situation, try to find that happy balance between “PR chick” and “Steven Spielberg wannabe” – the result should leave you with a polished message that is not only on strategy, but also engaging for your audience.
A special thank you to Taylor’s Senior Management Communications Team (SMCT) for providing this professional development opportunity.