Video: Time for an Upgrade!

The coronavirus pandemic has redefined what a meeting is. “Meet me on Zoom” has become 2020’s ad hoc catchphrase, and because teleworking and sheltering in place will likely continue into 2021, online video will continue to be an integral part of the “new normal.”

Video’s prominence means that people can and should upgrade their approach. Thanks to Zoom culture, we’ve all now seen the home offices and dining rooms of our favorite pundits, talks show hosts and reporters, not to mention those of our colleagues. Rating virtual backgrounds has become a pop-culture sport, while at the same time, more serious  explainers have popped up all over the internet to help.

Being a former TV pro, it pains me to see substandard video – whether on Zoom or for promotional purposes. Following are some tips and tricks for improving your videos, whether they’re for online meetings or for creating ads, promo videos or b-roll.

Video Calls

Our days, consisting of logging on and off of various online meetings, often give us a peek into the homes of our colleagues – including their bric-a-brac collections and kitchen ceilings. If you’re tired of showing off your own greasy ceiling or inadvertently sharing old family photos with the world, a free virtual background can change things up, as can picking a background image from your own photo library, which most video conferencing software allows.

However, the coolest background or nicest home office can’t hide poor camera framing or bad lighting. Investing in a simple video light will improve your appearance and enable viewers to better see your facial expressions. Professional grooming and attire are still necessary, and so are pants…most of the time. To improve audio quality, headsets and microphones can be cheaply upgraded.

The next key is framing your shot to improve the quality of your finished product. Best practices include:

  • Dividing the screen into three vertical sections, and positioning oneself near the inside edge of the left of the frame is a good start. Left is recommended most often, because graphics can be positioned over the right shoulder.
  • To keep eyes and body language focused on the audience, it helps to imagine someone standing to the right of the camera, as if they were there with you, asking questions.
  • The most common framing is a medium shot, showing approximately the lower ribs to just a few inches above the head. The close-up shot is better for more personal or technical content, showing the presenter from roughly the armpits to just above the head.
  • The reason to have a few inches of space above the head is because it prevents the top of the presenter’s head from moving offscreen during conversation.

Overall, achieving a more pleasing background and framing your shots more effectively are fast and easy tricks, and they cost nearly nothing.

Promotional Video and B-roll

For b-roll or promotional video or even online ads, better results are available through simple techniques. Steady and static wide shots using a tripod are useful for video editors and should not include zooms or pans. Over-the-shoulder shots are useful for demos, and video segments that show how software works provide effective detail for promotion. More footage is always better than less, and framing should be horizontal rather than vertical.

Improving video quality is quite easy and can help companies achieve more “bang for the buck,” whether it is to increase the professionalism of online meetings or to make more visually pleasing promotional content.

Video has become integral to our “new normal,” so striving to make it excellent should be a priority.

PR and Marketing: Never More Important

The business environment during the coronavirus pandemic has been surprisingly good for PR firms like Bospar. That’s because we’re laser-focused on helping clients tell their stories about pandemic-relevant offerings, like telecommuting and telehealth. When it comes to the recovery, my current feeling is “cautiously optimistic,” and I’m confident that many companies will survive and emerge even stronger.

Surviving is about adaptability, and seasoned pros know the time is now to get creative and flexible and to become more enthusiastic and proactive marketers. During economic difficulties, the reflexive response is to cut budgets, but today’s leader companies are making strategic investments in marketing ahead of tomorrow’s recovery.

Firms can minimize the damage by focusing on fundamentals and by implementing programs that address the pandemic and its impact on their clients, their customers and other key constituencies. Virtual work is the “new normal,” and what was once a trend is now mainstream. Ensuring that regular work is underway with minimal disruptions is a first crucial step.

The next step is focusing on strategic issues, and, for firms like mine, the strategic process began with creating actionable client plans involving factors like staffing, crisis communications and proactive messaging aimed at the customers, prospects and partners of our clients.

Working together with our clients, we’ve developed outbound messaging and campaigns that offer assurance and illustrate our clients’ roles as critical solution providers. This strategy isn’t new, as the brands that were successful after the 2007-2009 recession were the ones that met the moment by offering solutions and perspective.

Marketers can show concern by projecting stability, holding human values high, and demonstrating empathy through their actions. Customer relationships, driven by relevant and thoughtful campaigns, can help mitigate fear and uncertainty, assuring people that corporations are in it for the long haul, along with their customers.

Building brand equity is a powerful technique, because customers will have a reserve of goodwill when the recession abates. Examples include loan deferral programs from the auto industry, free services from internet providers, and payment assistance from financial services companies, ensuring that customers are not devastated financially in addition to dealing with the pandemic.

What’s more, companies can obtain earned media coverage during troubled times. Flexible and timely pitches, including approaches showcasing corporate ingenuity and giving, will resonate with key audiences during the pandemic. Marketing will benefit from connecting with the cultural zeitgeist, and attracting top-of-the-funnel leads is still doable, as are lead nurturing and the ability to close sales.

Additional good news is that PR, social media and content marketing remain the most cost-efficient tools in the toolbox, providing a measurable pathway for driving brand visibility and articulating a company’s values and value proposition. PR enables “doing more with less,” and tomorrow’s top influencers should use this time to share their stories and thought leadership perspectives. Simply put, leaning into PR and marketing today will reap dividends tomorrow.

Content: More Important and Relevant Than Ever

Relevant at Bospar

Like every business, Bospar is grappling with the implications of the coronavirus pandemic. While we’ve experienced some disruption in adjusting to the ever-changing “new normal,” we have found that we’re in a pretty good place as a company given our position as a virtual agency and our expertise in working from home.

Our clients are telling us that content has never been more important or relevant. As Bospar’s Chief Content Officer, I’m continuing to drive and expand content programs to meet growing demand. During this time, we’re leveraging Bospar’s deep bench of content creators, which was built out well before the crisis hit. Our unique Content Team features experienced professional writers who have backgrounds that include journalism, enterprise marketing and sales, and crisis communications.

Because in-person meetings are canceled for the foreseeable future, the rapid shift to online-only marketing is driving a nearly unprecedented need for content. In the absence of face-to-face interactions, a steady stream of fresh content can and should be published to key constituencies – including customers, prospects, employees, partners, and the media. Zoom meetings and virtual “everything” are making content the new “corporate calling card,” and content remains one of the very few ways that companies can control the message, articulate their views, stay top of mind, and illustrate their value proposition to a wider audience.

To support this shift, Bospar is streamlining the ideation, production and publication of content assets. For starters, we are doing our best to suspend typical turnaround times on content deliverables like press releases and contributed articles, with the goal of getting them completed faster than ever. We’re also producing a wider variety of different kinds of content assets. Our capable team can deliver almost anything, ranging from press materials and sales support and enablement tools to employee and customer communications and social content.

By the way, social media is also more critical than ever before, both in terms of amplifying earned media coverage and as a channel for delivery of timely messages. With people constantly online, now is a good time to expand social programs, not only to stay in touch but also to grow a company’s audience and influence in advance of any future economic recovery.

Finally, content is important because it is efficient and trackable. C-suite executives know that marketing programs must move forward even in a downturn, and PR and earned media have always been among the marketer’s most cost-effective tools. Content plays well with the martech stack, and the ability to measure content programs helps executives understand ROI. What’s more, repurposing content helps amortize one’s content investment across multiple channels, driving efficiency at a time when budgets are under scrutiny.

In closing, we want to leave you with one message. Especially in times of change or crisis, content is an essential part of any integrated communications strategy.