Kate Nicholas: Internal comms leads broadcast vanguard

Last week I spent several hours in a darkened room at ITV’s London studios being amused, shocked and on occasions even elated, while transported to worlds both familiar and alien. What I rarely felt was bored or disengaged, despite a slightly numb bum.

This is because I was viewing the best in audio visual material that the world of comms has to offer. Newsreader Anna Ford, various heads of internal comms, CSR and PR and the odd publisher were assembled to decide which of the category winners of the International Visual Communications Association Awards should be handed the ultimate gong – the grand prix. I can give nothing away, but we sat through an extraordinary range of entries, from experiments in multimedia to public information broadcasting. 

The quality was truly impressive, particularly compared to the diet of low-budget home improvement shows and increasingly embarrassing forays into reality TV that have taken over prime time viewing. I left with the impression that producers of corporate audio/video could teach a thing or two their TV counterparts.

However, it was frustrating that such excellence in broadcasting does not have a wider audience. All too often superb programming was being delivered to audiences via DVDs which you knew they would never watch. The working day is just too full and it takes a particular mentality to look forward to a relaxing evening on the sofa with a corporate video.

Internal comms, with its built-in distribution channels, has led the way for years now in using broadcast to engage its audiences. So it was no coincidence that many of the best productions were internally targeted. External communicators have never really got to grips with the potential of broadcast to create their own narrative and gain emotional buy-in from audiences. They are far too worried about managing responses to the 24/7 news machine to think too much about proactively taking control of the broadcast process.

But the days of sticking a corporate DVD in an envelope are numbered. Internal and external distribution channels are developing at an amazing pace.  Broadband and services such as Sky's Information TV are revolutionising delivery of corporate messages and have the potential to turn PROs into multimedia producers. But this opportunity requires a quantum shift in thinking, and training in the craft of the moving image. It's a steep learning curve, and a far cry from penning a press release.

kate.nicholas@haynet.com

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