Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Why Every Brand Should Hire a Professional Video Producer - Bruce Alfred, Cobblestone Inc.

Video is well on its way to becoming the dominant medium for communication. In the past, text had been the main vehicle for communicating within the business, entertainment and news and information worlds, but that has changed dramatically in recent years with the rise of low cost video production tools and distribution platforms. The explosive growth of user-generated content on YouTube has spawned a new generation of amateur video producers which has, in turn, made it more acceptable for lower quality productions. It's true that anyone with the right tools and know-how can shoot and edit video. And, to some degree we are all able to craft an interesting or even compelling story. But what about the art and craft of producing a professional video production? Does knowing how to use a Flip camera make you a video professional?

Bruce Alfred, Principal of Cobblestone Inc., is asked over and over, how important is it to create high quality video? Can I just use my consumer HD camera to make something and put it up on my business website? As professional video producer and web video consultant, Alfred's answered that question many times and his answer is no, that's not the best idea.

Alfred says,
"When you're putting your own video on your site you want it to increase and raise your image. You don't want it to join the YouTube, user-generated, quickly shot and thrown up on the web type of video because there's so much of that. You want to rise above the noise. So, in short, make sure that you hire a video producer or a video production company that knows how to tell stories, that knows how to connect with any audience, that can learn your goals quickly and be able to interpret those goals into a message that calls people to the action that you need."
Certain content requires high production value and other content may not. It all depends on your audience. But for brands, you want to make sure you're above the fray and not just another low quality YouTube video. While there could be places on your site where you have user-generated video, when it's your creation you want it to reflect well on your brand.

With text, anyone can write, but that doesn't make you a great writer. Alfred says that a professional video producer is an expert that every brand should hire.
"Any good producer will really be a visual storyteller. They are going to know how to build your story and your story is how we as humans connect to others. What you want to do with your video is build some kind of loyalty, bring people into whatever your organization is. A professional video producer will help you reach that type of goal by using storytelling, by building emotion, perhaps by humor – all things that draw the users in."

On the Cobblestone Inc. blog Alfred answered The Top Seven Questions About Web Video, and expanded on why brands should invest in professionally produced video.
"Video is your public face to the world.  Make sure you don’t have egg on it. The less cheeky answer is more nuanced: it depends on your goals and the expected shelf life of the video.  If you’re producing video to build brand awareness, or generally promote your organization it makes sense to produce a high-quality professional video. In most cases, the same applies to any evergreen subject that you will highlight on your website for the foreseeable future. The video needs to not only convey information but your professional image as well.
If you are providing product details or how-to information to potential or existing customers, the production still needs to be professional.  But in this case, viewers are looking for specifics, and don’t need bells and whistles.  Here simplicity, clarity, and brevity are the elements that count most. When you want to create a community around your product, an event, or your business as a whole, it is worth asking your users to upload relevant videos. User generated content is an excellent way to deepen engagement, and allow users to inform others."

About Bruce Alfred
Bruce Alfred is an award-winning producer/director/writer, and web video consultant. During a career which has spanned 25 years, Alfred has produced non-fiction works for clients of nearly every size and stripe -- for broadcast, web, corporate, governmental, and non-profit. Alfred’s video projects have taken him from the operating room to the board room, from a Somali immigrant community to the south of France. Yet, all of his programs have one basic commonality: Alfred’s work speaks to his audiences in ways that are at once informative, understandable, and engaging.

One of his better-known documentary projects was a four-hour mini-series on the group of French impressionist artists. Alfred led all creative processes on The Other Revolution: The Impressionists, which became one of A&E Television’s most sophisticated and successful Biography programs. The series continues to sell well on DVD, and has been rebroadcast multiple times.  Projects prior to his establishment of Cobblestone include his role as coordinating producer for Ken Burns' Baseball, the 18- hour series for PBS.

Alfred has long embraced emerging technologies when such technologies lower costs, increase efficiencies, or allow new opportunities. As streaming video on the web became practicable, Alfred saw the challenge and opportunity in delivering a highly satisfactory results-oriented web video experience. After in-depth web-video related research and much testing of software and hardware, Alfred now serves as a consultant to organizations interested in optimal video delivery to internet connected devices, as well as video SEO, monetization, and analytics. He also works with clients on instituting best practices for integrating video into websites, social media, and video sharing sites.