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Video: beyond 'three, two, one ... action!' (video as a communication channel)

Video ... the word conjures up elaborate productions, high costs, nerve-racking negotiations. But for some, these things pay off, and others find alternatives that meet their needs yet simplify the work and keep down the costs.

Video has proved a highly effective marketing tool for Denro Holdings, an international investment sales firm based in Regina, Sask. They hired Mind's Eye Pictures, a film and production company also located in Regina, to help make a video that would introduce the company's services in South America and Asia. After filming, a sound track was created in English, and then was translated into Cantonese, Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish. DH's three-and-a-half-minute video used live actors (mostly the company's staff) and computer animation and graphics -- which were integrated with the company's brochures, also translated into different languages.

"Most of our business is in southeast Asia, where familiarity is extremely important in attracting business," says Bob Knight, president and CEO of Denro Holdings. "You have a limited amount of time in which to get people's attention, and it can be difficult to show your company's diversity."

The video succeeded in these respects, Knight says. It has enabled the company to compete with international competitors "sometimes 500 times our size. The tape makes the company look much bigger than it really is, and it helps people see the diversity in the company." Produced three years ago for about CDN $35,000, the video has directly resulted in an additional $20 million in sales in the markets outside North America -- certainly recovering D-H's expenses.

Looking back on the process, Knight has a couple of pieces of advice:

* Get the very best people to do the work. "A bad video is far worse than no video at all," Knight says.

* Use professional-quality graphics and computer animations.

* If you are translating into other languages, tape the translations and take them to native speakers. This is especially important in countries such as the People's Republic of China, where many dialects are spoken throughout the country, and even within regions.

* Keep your video short. Knight feels three-and-a-half minutes is people's maximum attention span for video.

For employees of the CIBA-GEIGY Corp. (a Swiss multinational chemical company), says David French, employee communication specialist at the company's Greensboro, N.C. location, video is not used nearly as much as other avenues. French says print communication is favored because of the technical nature of the business.

He has worked extensively with video at other companies, and cautions, "It's incredibly expensive to produce something that competes with network television. If it doesn't, people tune it out. Nobody wants to look at a talking head." Concludes French, "We find we are most successful with video when we are trying to make a big impact and we have a forceful message."

U.S. pharmaceuticals company Burroughs Wellcome has found a means of posting meeting announcements, general company news, daily stock quotes, promotions and volunteer opportunities via closed-circuit TV that is relatively simple and is far less expensive than full-motion, live video. Doris Epps Campbell, corporate communication associate, at B-W headquarters in Research Triangle Park, N.C., recently started producing "The Communication Channel," a program distributed to about 1,900 B-W employees. "The Communication Channel" also runs video news releases created by the public affairs department.

"Now, we have instant communication simultaneously to four different buildings," says Campbell. This allowed management to inform employees about the Sudafed crisis before it reached the newspapers.

For the nuts and bolts of this system, Campbell's department went to Target Vision, a Rochester, N.Y. computer-based business television company. Target Vision provides software for IBM-PC (and compatible) computers that communicators can use to generate full-color graphics and text messages for broadcast. B-W is purchasing other equipment (a scanner, and a high-resolution output device) that, used with the Target Vision Operating System, will enable Campbell to scan photographs or other images into the system, add text or graphics and broadcast them.

When setting up the system, the department opted not to purchase some of Target Vision's additional programming services (such as "Headline News" and "Quality of Life" -- additional slides provided daily on current events or health and fitness issues, and which can be edited by the user before broadcasting). This decision was partly a cost-curbing measure, but the company also wanted to keep the broadcasts tailored directly to B-W employees.

It took Campbell about three months to come up to speed on the system; now, she spends about an hour each day on input and two hours at the end of each week preparing the upcoming week's show. She plans to start experimenting with the graphics package that came with the software soon. Also, now that the system has been operating for a few months, the department can do a survey to find out how effective this channel is for meeting employees' needs for information about the company.
COPYRIGHT 1991 International Association of Business Communicators
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Keller, Rise Anne
Publication:Communication World
Date:Oct 1, 1991
Previous Article:Finding the right path in the communication maze.
Next Article:Show & sell.

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