What does video production look like in the age of Covid-19?

The last two+ months have been a whirlwind of unprecedented change that has truly rocked the video production industry. For the first month or so, it felt correct to take a step back and see how pandemic progressed + take guidance from other media companies as to what best practice looks like for production now. There are definitely no easy answers regarding how to tell your company’s or product’s message right now, but one thing is still clear: video is as vital and necessary as ever.

There are a lot of mixed signals about what kind of video content companyies should be focused on right now and I think over the past two months we’ve learned more about what kind of videos don’t work as opposed to what kind do.

The big $$$ agencies that have created generic PSA’s with stagnant stock footage and passive narration — ‘In these difficult times’ ‘we’re all in this together’ — have done very little to enhance their clients’ brand messages. These commercial spots have felt like rushed and unthoughtful attempts to stay current and relevant during this truly unnerving historical moment.

Glossy, highly produced video content is just not the answer right now. What is? Documentary branded storytelling. Another good term for this is Brand Journalism. Customers of B2C and B2B companies still want to hear your stories, they want to know what your company is doing, how your leadership is responding, or even just small stories about life during quarantine/pandemic/wfh. We’re all craving connection in a new and deep way right now. The best content I’ve seen in the past two months has come from news outlets that are more uniquely positioned to document the world as it is right now. Companies should be trying to emulate this more unplugged, less glamorous style of storytelling.

Video content that still works

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but just a few of my thoughts on story and content approach that will come across well and offer your brand a human/emotionally connective thread to your audience:

  • Unscripted messaging from leadership —thoughts of appreciation to customers and employees. Talking points are ok, but absolutely no script. This is a time for vulnerability and humanity from our business leaders rather than extremely polished one takers. 
  • Quarantine journeys— don’t overlook this unique opportunity to allow for a more intimate/unplugged look into your company/brand story. We’re all stuck at home and, as consumers, we want to see how other’s are coping + frankly empathize with each other’s circumstance/challenges. Highlighting part of your team, whether it be product designers, engineers, sales or HR will generate some surprising, thoughtful and emotional insights. 
  • Humor!— Don’t be afraid to show off your company’s silly side right now. This is a surreal time and everyone is feeling cooped up and a little crazy right now, let’s be honest. So, there is nothing wrong with letting loose a little and doing some funny and witty original content. Certainly laughing at ourselves a bit is good therapy :).
  • Small scale production — this underlines all of the above. Is it too obvious to point out that video production is a mandatory in-person industry? Well, I’m going to point that out anyway. All of these video types can be produced remotely or with a crew five or less. The industry at large is still figuring out what best practices look like in regards to health & safety, but we do know that ‘less is more’ will probably be a necessary mantra.

Video is not dead, but it has changed, maybe forever. We all need to adapt and move forward, yes, but we also need to continue telling stories and documenting the world around us. Video will always be the best way to get a big message across in a short space of time. Let’s take advantage of that and create some new and truly unique stories during this unpredictable moment.