CEO webcasts on YouTube: Will it turn them into megalomaniacs?

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2008/06/28 1 views

in e marketing 101 serving a need

    Recently, CEO video clips have become a new fad it seems for some CEOs. Not all video clips featuring c-level executives are must see fare on YouTube.

    For me the issue is: Does a video fail versus text when it comes to a CEO trying to explain to investors the corporation’s financial performance for last Quarter?

    We could provide you with links to give you a chance what we mean. We decided to just point out a few basic facts instead. Please leave a comment below, we appreciate those very much indeed.

Video reports or internet-based video is a useful tool for reaching small, influential audiences. Naturally, if the video becomes viral it will reach a large audience with the help of such a service as YouTube.

Nevertheless, one disadvantage is that you have to download a video before you can play it properly on your computer. Worst is that videos are a slow medium. For instance,

    – a video lasting a couple of minutes may contain just 200 spoken words, however,

    – you can read 1,000 words of text in one 1 minute

Hence, reading a report empowers you to acquire much more information in the same amount of time than if you were to watch a corporate video on the web.

Sure, the video can show you what sort of person the chief executive is. Nonetheless, for assessing what he or she has done, you need the full financial report and accounts, as well as press cuttings.

So while in the beginning of mass communications was the printed word, it appears that it will remain crucial for a few more years. Explaining more complex matters, such as how calculus works, or the firm’s balance sheet, is best explained with

    – figures,- tables that both tell you more than 1,000 words, AND

    – well written text.

All the above gives investors, readers or journalists a chance to comprehend complex issues.

Bottom Line

The challenge between video versus text is not so much that one method is better or more effective than the other is. Instead, the truth is that some users including public relations folks and CEOs do not know:

1) how to use each tool effectively,

2) some of us are just not that good in front of a camera, AND

2) when to move between the mediums – sometimes a video is better other times a blog entry might serve the brand best

So before you give your okay for another video, just think, when have you watched the last video report via, Bloomberg or the Wall Street Journal? Let us know – leave a comment.

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  • Steven Sonsino

    Hi Urs, in discussing video versus text you’ve got to remember a couple of other things.

    If the video material is engaging – and that’s a big IF – then it’s easier to consume than reading text. First, because you just sit and watch. Plus it’s automatically in conversational dialogue.

    Text is tougher to consume because you have to work at it. And unless it’s conversational, or broken up into small paragraphs with bullet points – unless it’s made easier to consume on the web, which can take just as much time as making a video – then there’s no guarantee readers will read.

    Like you I’ve been using different analytics to track where users come from and how long they stay and on my video sites people stay 2 to 3 times longer than on my text-based sites, though traffic is roughly equal to each.

    Final points on video: yeah, most of us don’t have the jaw structure of the US TV anchors, but video does communicate much more than just words. It *can* be like meeting someone and so you could build a stronger relationship with the broadcaster/blogger than just by reading text.

    And finally, folks can use screen capture software instead of full-motion video. Use pictures, or tables, or even powerpoint, and your voiceover and its emphasis will do much the same as full motion, but it means you can prepare video in your pyjamas. (Your jaw structure doesn’t matter!)

    Just a few thoughts to add to the debate.

  • Sylvia Peters

    Hi Steven & Urs

    You both have a point:

    1) Urs – yes it takes much more words to get a message across with a video than with a 2-3 page document

    2) Steve – “… folks can use screen capture software instead of full-motion video. Use pictures, or tables, or even powerpoint, and your voiceover and its emphasis will do much the same as full motion, but it means you can prepare video in your pyjamas. (Your jaw structure doesn’t matter!)”

    Nevertheless, we can agree that what Steven suggests takes very likely more time than writing a thoughtful 1000 words for a blog post including a chart and a picture to make a point.

    Finally, if one wants to learn calculus,

    a) a video can help but
    b) a piece of paper explaining calculus in more detail, as well as
    c) one practicing the skill is required to truly master calculus.

    No pain no gain – we probably all agree that a well done video can achieve wonders. Nonetheless, when it comes to the bottom line, there is less substance that can be communicated to an audience with the same number of words within the same amount of time than I get from reading your 3-page brief (including tables, figures, text, etc.).

    But today, most students would like to learn all they must learn by putting their iPod under their pillow, listening to the lecture and learning it in their sleep. Here a good video can help.

    Since most videos are not that well done using Stevens criteria mentioned above, I prefer getting the good stuff in writing. In turn, I can read it on the plane using my BlackBerry.

    Wouldn’t we all. :-)

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