Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Announcing the Strategic Video Awards

The 2010 Strategic Video Awards is a new video awards program, created by Arizona-based marketing agency McMurry’s Center for Professional Excellence, to showcase videos that serve a strategic purpose, judging them not on their technical merits but rather on their ability to move their intended audience in a particular direction. Of course, technical competence in scripting, shooting and editing video helps, but big budgets aren't necessarily needed to get your message across in a strategic and compelling way. With the proliferation of employee generated video created with Flip camera, viewers are more forgiving of production quality. Short interviews or video messages using low cost video tools can be more powerful than a polished PR agency production.

The Strategic Video awards will emphasize overall effectiveness of persuasive power and not judge entrants on lighting, sound and script, but will focus on categories like, leadership communication, employee engagement and organizational history. I've been invited to be a judge for this inaugural video competition, and I'm pleased to present a short interview I did with David Murray, the Strategic Video Awards Program Director, to give some background on the video awards program.

Larry Kless: What started Strategic video awards? Did it grow out of a initiative? How did the idea evolve into what it is today?

David Murray: At McMurry’s Center for Professional Excellence we look for areas of communication that aren’t given their full measure of recognition by big association awards programs. For instance, we have the Cicero Speechwriting Awards, for excellence in speechwriting. We give Magnum Opus Awards to writers, editors and designers who create everything from great articles to great headlines and photo captions.

With video becoming such a huge part of modern communication strategies, it seemed natural to us to create a separate awards program for great video communications.

But what’s most important about the Strategic Video Awards is that they offer a place for communicators who are using video for strategic purposes. As we say on the website, “No matter what the entry category, the only questions our judges ask are: Is it absorbing? Is it persuasive? And most importantly: Did it work?”

LK: Why video? What makes it so compelling and why should businesses use it? Why is the hottest communication medium?

David Murray: You’ll probably have more reasons than we will, Larry. Obviously the technology—from the cameras to streaming ability—has made the making and distributing of videos infinitely easier and cheaper.

This ease of use has changed the very nature of video communications, and made it more spontaneous and ultimately, valuable. The videos that resulted from thousands of corporate dollars and days and weeks and months of production were often too slick by half, and their themes were out of date.

The videos that are produced now are now—they’re authentic, they’re human and they communicate. Which is more than we can say about a lot of corporate communication media, eh?

LK: Isn't making videos too expensive and out of reach for most companies? Where do they start?

David Murray: If I were a communicator, I’d start by getting myself a Flip camera and experimenting with making simple, short videos at home, and around the office. Wait, I am a communicator, and that’s exactly what I have done. And I’ve made some really good stuff.

Eventually, your video storytelling ability grows, and you find you want more and better tools. But by that time, you’ve shown yourself and others what an added dimension video provides, and the budget money’s magically available.

LK: Now, specifically about the competition... Can you describe the submissions process?

David Murray: Submission is as simple as we could make it. Go to the website, type in the URL to your video, select a category and write us a brief description of what the video set out to accomplish, and what you think it did achieve. It’s $149 per entry. That’s it.


LK: Who the heck are the judges?

David Murray: We recruited 13 people with lots of experience using video to communicate. Identifying them wasn’t really very easy, because heretofore the video world was: communications people ... and video people. No more. All these judges represent the new video communicator, and they’re excited to see the entries.

LK: What do the award winners win?

David Murray: Virtual Winners Kit, which includes all the tools you need to promote your win
(press release, logos, etc.)
Inclusion in a special Strategic Video Awards highlight issue of the widely read ContentWise
A certificate, ready for framing

LK: Can you talk a little about the Center for Professional Excellence?

David Murray: This is a division of the custom publisher McMurry, CPE offers professional development to people ranging from corporate communication executives to copyeditors, business managers to administrative assistants.

The entry deadline is October 15, 2010.
For more information, visit the website: Strategic Video Awards