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Seven fatal errors of video production

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A business video can promote your organization, message and sales. It works best and maximizes the return on your corporate communications investment when you avoid these fatal errors.

Fatal Error No. 1: Trying to say everything. Describing everything about your company in a half-hour opus runs the risk of losing an audience that expects a commercial break every seven minutes. Assume you have 10 minutes max. Select three key messages you'd be thrilled to tattoo on the brains of everyone watching and build the video's content around them.

Fatal Error No. 2: Focusing on the message after the video is shot.

Changes are budget killers. Small additions made after filming is complete can cost almost as much as the original shoot. So get OKs from all key players prior to turning on the first camera. Make sure the final script is really "final."

Fatal Error No. 3: Creating a video for select execs.

Navigating the waters of internal politics can be tricky. And trying to appease too many members of the executive team can backfire, often creating videos that lack a clear theme and production style. You shouldn't include an interview with Terry, the senior VP of investor relations, unless what he's got to say increases the effectiveness of your recruitment video. Your first obligation is to communicate effectively with your intended audience.

Fatal Error No. 4: Employing creativity by committee.

When they see the first cut of your video, everyone will have an opinion. The office manager prefers a slower pace. Sheila in accounting isn't nuts about the font. Dave from engineering thinks letterbox would work better. While uninformed eyes sometimes provide valuable insights, not all opinions are created equal.

Fatal Error No. 5: Not planning for more than one use.

To get the biggest payback from your video investment, preplan multiple uses of your footage, giving it a shelf life of years instead of hours.

For example:

"Prepurpose" a year-in-review video budgeted for your annual meeting into smaller "company snapshots" that can go on your Web site.

Plan to recut the meeting video into a new-employee orientation tool.

Cover the subject well enough so you can edit the meeting message into a CD that executives can use when speaking to industry or civic groups.

Fatal Error No. 6: Focusing on awards, not the message.

We're proud to say that several JRP productions have received industry honors. We're grateful, but what we care about most is: "Did the spots increase sales of the product or service they were advertising?"

Fatal Error No. 7: Taking the cheapest way out.

Choosing a video production company isn't the same as getting the best price on toner cartridges. As with everything else, lowest price doesn't always produce best value.

Matt Solomon is creative director at film and video production company John Roach Projects in Madison, Wis. He can be reached at msolomon@jrpinc.com.

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