New Report: The Succession Trap. How the C-suite thinks about leadership transitions and why it's wrong

A Corporate Documentary in Under Three Minutes?

October 24, 2013 • History Factory

This is a screenshot of a video telling the story of New York City's Great Fire of 1835 for The Hartford.
The History Factory tells the story of New York City’s Great Fire of 1835 for The Hartford.

So, let’s say your company is celebrating a major anniversary or launching a new brand with a strong tie-in to your company’s history.

And that history is amazing: the breakthroughs, the highs and lows, the compelling personalities across the decades innovating, expanding and guiding the company. The possibility for inspiring current and future generations is tangible.

Of course, you want to produce a documentary with moving images, strong narration and a perfect musical score. It is the most emotionally engaging form of storytelling in your arsenal.

To reach critical audiences, you will, of course, use the Internet as a prominent playback venue. But when online video exceeds three minutes, users frequently tune out. How do you tell a complete and riveting history in three minutes or less?

Well, you don’t.

Amid many too-short corporate documentaries, a common trend emerges: A parade of dates and images marches by way too quickly to be absorbed.

Basic questions go unanswered. Who really were our predecessors? What were their critical decisions? How did the company change under their watch? How does it relate to what’s happening today?

The solution? We often recommend our clients produce short documentaries covering an individual story from their history at three minutes or less.  Three minutes, it turns out, is plenty of time to tell a single story well.

The benefits? Audience engagement significantly improves when the story has greater depth. Your target audience takes away a memorable story, associating your company’s historic legacy with your future.

The opportunities? The one-story-per-documentary approach can be expanded into multiple short one-story documentaries that provide a more complete picture of the company’s history. Our clients often find great success rolling out these short documentaries online at regular intervals during an anniversary year, and they frequently focus on more recent product launches and tech breakthroughs that can then be targeted to customer segments and employee audiences.

One final opportunity: A long-form documentary is simply a compilation of individual stories. It’s quite easy in today’s edit environment to string these brief documentaries together to create a long-form documentary.  The long-form piece is too lengthy for web distribution but works well in the role of meeting brightener, or as a companion piece to a corporate history book, or in a digital lobby display in the company headquarters.


More About Video & Storytelling

Guide to Corporate Storytelling

Corporate storytelling now, with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, has become incredibly important as… Read More

This Month in Business History: The First Commercial Computer

At this moment (and at any moment, really) you probably have at least one piece… Read More

7 Ways Remote Story Capture Collects Company History as it Happens

One of the challenges many organizations face in storytelling is capturing stories from the recent… Read More

How S&P Global used a people-first mindset to re-prioritize in 2020

In the months before COVID-19 shut down the world economy and halted international travel, leading… Read More