A recipe for integrating video into external digital messaging

By Victoria Piccoli

(Opinions expressed in this blog do not reflect the attitudes of Booz Allen Hamilton, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the Maryland Army National Guard.)

Before I give away all the key ingredients and house secrets to creating video content that enhances your agency’s digital messaging — I will explain why you need to create digital-specific videos, how to do it, examples and quick tips.

Think about your own browsing behavior, at the touch of a button or swipe, you are scrolling through platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You may spend a couple seconds to a minute on each based on the algorithm-curated content you are served, but generally it is the high-quality, relevant multimedia content you spend the most time on.

The ‘thumb stopping’ pieces of content are the ones that the consumer believes adds value to their lives. However, this line of thought is often ignored when government organizations try to relate or relay their messages to their audiences through video.

So, how do government organizations win in this information rich, low attention span landscape?

Government organizations need to create content that makes the ‘scrollers’ stop.  But, to play and win in the digital landscape you need to have video and multimedia content that contends with others.

One of the biggest factors hindering this is the video “sidecar” effect. For example, most of us have been in meetings where a communications initiative is brought up — a plan has already been developed and tactics like articles, photos, social media content have been created. Now someone thinks that creating a video will help push that initiative into viral stardom. But, the last thing the internet, or your organization needs, is another 5-10 minute video with a bunch of talking heads and an “artistic” time lapse.

First, stop thinking about video as a “sidecar” tactic and create it specifically as a program. Develop multimedia content the way that you consume it on your own social media networks: short, impactful, relevant.

Need an example? Here are two:

In my role, I work for a Department of Defense intelligence agency within the office of corporate communications as a public affairs specialist. There are a lot of things that we can’t talk about, but constraint breeds creativity and by thinking outside of the box, we’ve found that there are still things that can shared to illustrate our agency and mission.

The first video series I started utilized historical moments and the organization’s part in those moments.  Highlighting the Cuban Missile Crisis or the Inter-American Geodetic Survey is a way to show the agency’s legacy, how it assisted with national security, and how that role has transformed to some of the work we do today.

This series now consists of ten videos and is growing. Most importantly, it has pulled historical moments and incorporated agency messaging within two minutes with a digital-optimized audience in mind.

These videos were their own campaign. We were then able to develop or repurpose articles, press releases, and podcasts that highlighted this campaign — but each video had their own unique story. The purpose of the videos was to express that story, rather than re-state the press release or agency message. It is important to keep that in mind.

Okay, maybe you are thinking that you don’t have cool history, fine. But, maybe your organization is made up of niche subject matter experts with interesting experiences.

The second series I produced is based on the strategic goal of having the organization be seen as a community and thought leader in geospatial information, earth sciences, data science and geography. Initially, the vision was to incorporate highly detailed motion graphics to compliment an expert from the agency when describing science terms like geospatial intelligence, GPS, and light detection and radar (lidar).  

These videos require a longer production time (about five weeks), yet have seen the biggest return on investment from the agency’s internal and external audiences by sparking conversation and building digital engagements.

So, how do you incorporate video successfully into your agencies external messaging?

  1. Knowing is half the battle. Look at what you can say, what you want to say, and how you want to be seen. (ex: thought leadership, community leaders, educators)
  2. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Look at what non-government organizations are doing. These organizations have profit in mind and that drives a need to meet goals and succeed and are leading the way when it comes to multimedia and digital engagement.
  3. Get by with a little help with your friends. Get a group of writers, video production specialists, and create buy-in from leaders! Creating buy-in for ideas is important and can make or break a project. (especially within government).
  4. Move fast and break things. Create fast and find out what works! If a video feature fails, you can make edits and integrate those lessons learned into your future videos. (Sometimes, it was shortening the intro to including more motion graphics to hold attention.)

Overall, my advice is to think strategically about the intangible feelings or thoughts you want people to have about your organization. Then create content that supports those messages with stories designed for your highly digitally savvy external (and internal) audience. And most importantly, the only way to create successful videos is to stop creating “sidecar” videos and create video with a purpose.


About the author:

Victoria Piccoli is a public affairs and digital media strategist with Booz Allen Hamilton serving within the office of corporate communications in a Department of Defense intelligence agency. Victoria has created, edited, and produced videos since 2010, with experiences in news broadcast, strategic communications, and public affairs. Victoria has a Bachelor of Art in Multimedia Cinema Production from Hawaii Pacific University and a Master of Arts in Media and Strategic Communications from George Washington University.

If you liked this blog, follow Victoria on LinkedIn at <https://www.linkedin.com/in/victoria-piccoli-62972087>