Monday, November 23, 2009

Dear Info Manager: Your New Job Is Video, Concept Is King, and Here's What You Need

If you're a marketing or communications manager, information video is about to become part of your job responsibility. Here's the why, how, and who.

Why? Most people are read-up and fed up.
Lucy Kellaway writing in the U.K.’s Financial Times says employees faced with information overload are stuffing their ears, closing the blinds, and shutting down. “... the written word has lost almost all its power. No one reads e-mails any more - with the exception of those from the boss. Messages from anyone else are either deleted unread or given a cursory glance and then ignored.”

Kellaway says management, too, is getting rid of information. “... companies have decided to deal with too much information by giving up any attempt to manage it on the grounds that to do so costs too much. Since the recession began, many have closed their libraries and taken the axe to their knowledge management divisions, set up with such pride and optimism barely a decade ago."

But people still want to watch. In fact, they want to watch more.
The buzz that prompted Kellaway’s article emanated from Carol Bartz, president and CEO of Yahoo, who contributes to The Economists’s “The World in 2010.” Bartz says, “That’s why the greatest mandate for leadership in business is the ability to cut through the information clutter and make clear decisions without apology.” How to cut through the clutter? Bartz alludes to video “snacks,” calling video the “cornerstone” of Yahoo’s strategy.

At first glance, I wondered if Bartz was snacking on something more potent than video, but then I remembered that a colleague told me her middle school niece goes first to YouTube, then to Wikipedia, in researching any paper for school. For information ... first to YouTube! Wow.

Today's volume of information demands that users must both see and hear in order to process. For information architects and managers of all ilk, the message becomes an irresistible mandate to evolve written stories and messages to visual stories and messages.

In short, we're moving from a written world to a video world, and nothing can change that. So -- if you're an information or marketing manager today, what is the mindset that will take you to the next step? That would be the ability to think.

To conquer, conceptualize.
Effective video demands that we conceptualize first. Concept in hand, we can execute the steps that go into effective video -- research, locate, listen, see, coagulate, film, process, edit, and -- ultimately -- communicate.

The film documentarian -- that dedicated man or woman who has something to say and follows it to the ends of the earth -- personifies the new communications model for information video. Think of The Discovery Channels amazing "Planet Earth" series; Ken Burns Civil War masterpiece on PBS, Michael Moore's "Capitalism" grappling with complex economic theories. These are massive undertakings of research, interview, selection, and presentation that make The Watergate Papers pale in comparison. All are draped in detail, but heavy on concept.

Bottom line: Concept Is King.
If this level of information delivery is where snack video is going -- and surely it is-- we're also talking about new definitions for career genius and a great many new jobs. Here's the management team you'll need for effective information video. Some of these folks may already be on staff, others not; plus, any one of these folks probably needs myriad assistants:

• Leader (you?): The One who can conceptualize a project, develop a message, build the team, and sign-off along the way.
Executionary (production person?): The One who can take a plan, oversee the team, devise and enforce schedules, crack whips.
• Information Architect (writer?): The One who can string together the narrative, find and coagulate bits of message, and schlog through raw footage for "that's it!"
• Film Maker (could be a designer, but you likely don't have this one yet...): The One who can appreciate the message, tell people where to stand, and get great-looking film into the camera.
• Editor (another newbie ..): The One who "gets the message" and puts it together for maximum effect.

-- scrubbed Marketing Brillo


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