The Stories Inc. team has quickly learned how to expertly capture employee stories virtually and create marketing videos remotely.
An employee we interviewed recently said, “2020 is an unprecedented year of change for this world.” Yes, that about sums it up.
Like all businesses, ours has gone through a lot of change in the last five months. This is the longest stretch our project team has gone without getting on a plane. It’s the longest stretch without interviewing a storyteller face-to-face. And it’s the longest stretch where we haven’t seen each other outside of a Zoom screen.
While the Stories Inc. team has missed all those things, this time has given us the opportunity to do something we never thought we’d do — interview storytellers virtually and create marketing videos remotely.
Our Virtual Story Session offering was born out of this unprecedented time. Instead of hopping on a plane, we now ship a box of video gear to our storytellers. Instead of handshakes to greet each other, we’re waving hello and goodbye through our webcams.
There have been amazing silver linings to these adaptations. Therefore, I wanted to share some of what we’ve experienced and learned for anyone looking to create marketing videos remotely. Creating this type of content is possible! And as you’ll see, it’s really needed right now.
Interviewing storytellers in their home makes it more, well, homey
In our recent interviews, we’ve noticed how easy storytellers have dropped into a comfortable conversation. They’re in their living rooms, dining rooms, or home offices, surrounded by their things and their lives. Since video conferencing has become so mainstream, it’s not awkward to have an in-depth conversation through a webcam. Storytellers seem more relaxed than we imagined they would be.
Without the bright lights, big cameras, and a group of people watching their live interview, we’ve found storytellers more open and ready to tell meaningful stories, right from the beginning.
We’re also seeing our share of cats, dogs, and families, which keeps our sessions light-hearted and fun.
We underestimate people’s ability to handle new things
When we started talking about sending gear to individual storytellers, we worried about how they’d manage set-up. We anticipated some stress around the tech components working correctly. After conducting interviews with storytellers across multiple companies, different types of roles, and differing levels of tech comfort, we’ve seen that everyone can handle this. A little instruction, guidance, and general cheerleading goes a long way to building confidence in using new technology.
Don’t shy away from the hard stuff
Before we can ask about how someone’s work life has changed because of the coronavirus, they’re bringing it up. We’ve heard from some organizations that telling these types of stories is tricky right now. And we get that.
But your employees have a lot to say about their lives right now. Giving them the opportunity to share and process what has happened this year is giving them a voice they may not have known they had. Whether it’s stories that make it to the final content or not, being heard has never been more important.
Here are some things storytellers have shared with us about how they’re feeling supported by their companies during a pandemic:
“Working during the pandemic with two working parents and a one-and-a-half year old at home has been a challenge. I was in a temporary assignment when the pandemic started and so my management was in a different group than my normal management. My manager recognized I was juggling a lot. And so he was the first person to encourage me to actually block off chunks of my calendar where I won’t be accessible because I am with my son. And when I felt comfortable and empowered in doing that it started to really help out a lot. I feel that shows how truly family-oriented the company is, and how putting you as a person in front of you as an employee is displayed throughout the company.”
“You can’t plan for a 2020 year. There’s so many things that happened that you have to really hope whoever is in charge, whoever is the leader understands how to just navigate uncharted territory. And in this moment, I think my company is doing a great job of looking for solutions, of creating solutions, of trying to create normality in what is an otherwise highly unstable, completely unpredictable year at times.”
“I think now we’re able to work remotely even better than before. We’re encouraged to use video conferencing internally and they also encourage video conferencing with our clients. My team has a bi-weekly call that we’ve set up over Zoom and most of the time we’re just talking about how we’re doing. We’re just talking about how somebody bought a car so they could do cross-country road tripping, but at the same time be quarantined within their own car. Or, we’ll talk about what someone’s cooking or baking that week. Being able to have Zoom and video chat options is really great because I think seeing someone’s face and speaking to someone face-to-face, whether it be with your client or with your team is really important right now.”
This isn’t scary stuff they’re sharing! It’s heartfelt appreciation for how they’re being taken care of. Those are definitely stories your candidates want to hear.
Create more space in the conversation
During a typical interview day, we’re having conversations with eight to 10 storytellers back-to-back. It makes for busy days and quick transitions.
With Virtual Story Sessions, we block off more time than we usually need with storytellers. It gives them time to set up, an opportunity for us to check on the technology, and a decent amount of time for our conversation. It also gives us time to leave space for organic thoughts, new insights, and more follow up on great stories we’ve heard.
We’ve learned to not rush the process. Could we do a session in 30 minutes like our normal interviews? Sure. But, we want to honor the time a storyteller is committing to be with us and hear all of their experiences and stories.
Creating content virtually isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes time, effort, and commitment to helping employees navigate one more thing during an already heavy time. But the rewards are there and it’s time we start practicing these skills.
For many of us, going back into an office is far in the future, if at all, and as practitioners we need to be prepared to capture and share our employee stories no matter where they are. Let us know if you’d like our help.