One of the challenges many organizations face in storytelling is capturing stories from the recent past. Whereas tales of founders or events earlier in the timeline may be abundant, companies sometimes fail to recognize the historical importance of recent activity and memories. It’s as if the account of something that happened a week ago is too young to qualify as “storyworthy.”
Yet if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that what we do today is precious and the time we’re living in is relatively unprecedented. It takes a concerted effort to collect the stories of recent years, especially those of the last year. It also takes work to record the collective understanding of processes, culture and spirit of the company at any given time. It’s what we call “living history,” and capturing it is essential for achieving many business objectives, including goals related to employee engagement and recruitment, sales, and organizational culture.
For years, we conducted in-person oral history sessions, often involving film crews at location shoots to work with participants to capture their stories and memories. As the pandemic has forced many people to work remotely, and with pandemic protocols still variable, it was vital for us to find a workaround. No, the solution wasn’t simply to record Zoom calls. Instead, we leveraged digital technologies to source video material remotely. We introduced Remote Story Capture to help record the stories of what is happening right now within organizations. Our process turns each employee, customer, or other stakeholder into a combination of film star, director, and production crew member. It’s easy and highly effective.
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Gathering the stories of your living history often fills in a black hole in your organization’s recent past. Yet apart from a sense of completeness, the real benefits of undertaking a remote story capture program include:
- Democratic engagement: Involving a wider range of stakeholders at all levels of your organization, far more affordably than with in-person video production
- Geographic enablement: Engaging your workforce no matter where they’re based — location doesn’t matter if everything is remote
- Historical pride: Building enthusiasm for your company’s history, especially the history happening today
- Cultural relevance: Showcasing your company’s culture from the inside out
- Openness and approachability: Increasing transparency into your company by showing your people in their own environment, unscripted and authentic
- Talent management: Using these stories to attract new talent, to train existing talent or to inform HR initiatives
So, what are some of the ways in which remote capture footage could be used? As with any creative asset, the only limit is your imagination. Here are some ideas to fuel your thinking:
- Collect milestone messaging: Does your company have an anniversary approaching? Kick off a virtual or in-person celebration with a social post or internal message that features employees, customers or even your famous connections wishing your organization well. In celebrating its 100th anniversary, Cleveland Clinic showcased a collection of associates and (quite noteworthy) friends expressing centennial greetings.
- Emphasize key values and culture initiatives: With so many people working remotely, reminding them of the values and beliefs that your organization holds dear requires some lateral thinking. A powerfully edited video or video series focusing on the values of the company, bringing to life each aspect of your belief system and allowing for personal expression of each means to individual employees, is an impactful reminder. It also has value for supporting recruiting on your Careers page, or for on-boarding new recruits, to help convey what matters in your organization.
- Get endorsements: Testimonial marketing has been around for centuries, and remote story capture is a further enhancement in asking customers, wherever they are, why they chose you and what it’s like to do business with you.
- Show what it’s really like: A “day in the life” video can be a powerful recruitment and retention tool like the ones we created with S&P Global. It’s especially powerful when so many are working remotely and having work experiences outside the typical office setting.
- Drive thought leadership: Creating video assets that identify and explain aspects of your business or industry could play a significant part of a broader thought leadership campaign, alongside a concerted push in earned and paid media.
- Support sales: A series of short vignettes that highlight key marketing and sales messages can be used in prospect and customer communications, social posts, and on your website.
- Recount your history: Your company’s past is rich with stories. Having contemporary voices tell those stories or discuss the historic moments they find compelling or exciting is a great way to bring to life your history — an unusual approach to a documentary.
Of course, capturing stories and soundbites remotely is not a replacement for an experienced videographer and crew in terms of quality. And of course, no matter how the story is captured, professional story concepting, planning and editing are essential to get a finished product the delivers on its goals. Yet as your organization adjusts to the new norm in our soon-to-be post-pandemic world (fingers crossed), capture this moment in time. The results could be a powerful and affordable asset to use for many years to come.