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Television at work

“If you have more money than brains, you should focus on Outbound Marketing.
If you have more brains than money, you should focus on Inbound Marketing.”
-Guy Kawasaki, formerly chief evangelist of Apple.

If you go to the gym, the chances are you’ll be able to watch television while you work out. People are now increasingly able to watch television while at work. Probably not MTV, but Internal corporate TV, which consists of channels, both recorded and live, produced for or by your company.

The revolution in digital technology means many companies are capable of delivering internal communications to disseminate corporate films to their employees. This internal communication might take the form of staff training, promotional videos or stakeholder announcements.

Many multinationals; banks, motor manufacturers, supermarkets or pharmaceutical companies, use corporate films to motivate dispersed workforces and deliver key messages from senior management.

This is not a substitute for face-to-face meetings or live events, but a useful addition, a top-up of existing internal communications, hopefully a unifying force. As with all forms of communication, from global advertising campaigns to internal emails, it requires careful planning and clear objectives.

Internal corporate TV lets companies show tangible changes and get behavioural issues over to staff, across all their sites, nationally or internationally. It should come from a careful consideration of internal communication and form part of a consistent branding. As with advertising, some companies produce their work internally, but most outsource to specialists and look for a company with a proven track record in their area of business.

When it comes to the content, there are many guidelines for companies to deliver, but the simple principles are: “Who is my audience? What are my key messages? What rationale does the audience need to understand behind the messages?” As well as deciding on what suitable content you may already have, you need to decide on what new content to produce, a time-frame, as well as a budget.

So, when you have your production company in place, as with an advertising agency, you will need to produce a clear brief, so they can develop the ideas to deliver your message and be prepared to work closely with them, reviewing progress at regular steps.

One such company, is Phil Slater Associates, based in London and Los Angeles. Formed in the 1970s, it started off producing corporate promotional and training programmes for the marine, oil and gas industries.

It branched out across a broad spectrum of industry and commerce, including complex promotional advertising and corporate communication programmes for international hotel groups and leisure facilities across Europe and America.

Staff need to see the programmes are for them and about them. For live broadcasts, interactivity can be built in with phone-ins, email or Twitter, but it is also important to get feedback from recorded transmissions. With interactive television, management can get an immediate reaction to their message. Volkswagen (VW) started using interactive television to keep in contact with their dealer network in Germany, from a production studio near VW’s main plant, in Wolfsburg.

They have now rolled it out globally and produce three categories of programmes; training, sales and urgent product information, which are typically broadcast twice in one day, with the exception of sales programmes, which are at 10am, when salespeople are least likely to be seeing customers.

Usually around 80% of the dealer network tunes in to the programmes, which are presented by a professional TV journalist, supported by technical experts, who demonstrate processes and answer questions, of which there will be around 600 per programme. Any not answered on air, are grouped into themes and posted with comments from the experts on the VW intranet.

One such professional, is Vicky Locklin. She was a TV presenter for 15 years, but now spends most of her time in the world of business television. She says: “I learned my craft presenting and working as a journalist and now I’m busy on screen presenting for my corporate clients, who include the Halifax Bank, the NHS and Asda.”

Corporate TV is not an ego-stroking exercise for senior management and your audience should be consulted at all stages of the process, as it is important they feel part of the experience and will hopefully look forward to the communication, rather than having it imposed on them.

Internal television can reduce travel and meeting costs, keep your salespeople focused on their goals, and keep your employees, shareholders and customers informed and engaged.

Any television content must have perfect production values if it is not to damage the brand and so costs dictate internal television is primarily the domain of large corporations. Corporate television is a natural medium for banks and supermarkets, but some have taken the concept to the next level.

For £6.00 a month, you can subscribe to MUTV, Manchester United’s official TV channel. It has two dedicated studios and broadcasts documentaries, archive matches, player profiles and interviews. It has hourly news bulletins, live reserve games and first team games with delayed replays. In short, it is a professional, dedicated, money-making television channel.

Other companies could go to these extremes, becoming proper, grown-up broadcasters, but it’s a bit Orwellian (1984) and most of them simply don’t have that much interesting to say.

Nigel Phillips

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