Lesson in Creativity & Corporate Culture–Holiday Style!

By Andrew Ruotolo, Assistant Account Executive and Video Specialist, Stern + Associates

‘Tis the season for mailboxes full of holiday tidings and New Year’s best wishes, a time-honored tradition dating back to the mid-1800s when Sir Henry Cole commissioned the first commercial greeting card. Aligned with the increasingly digitally native landscape, e-cards and video greetings now fill inboxes rather than physical mailboxes. While some suggest digital holiday messages are impersonal, others see them as opportunities to be more creative, inclusive and engaging. And after all, isn’t that what the holidays are all about?

Three years ago, we at Stern + Associates began incorporating video into our end-of-year greeting to colleagues, clients and prospects. Our messages have evolved from a “Happy New Year” group chant to last year’s silent illustration of our community involvement. This year, we sought smiles and laughter, resulting in our “Keep It Simple: Kids Say Business Jargon” video message.

We approach the video greeting not unlike our day-to-day business – infusing fun while aligning with our agency values and appealing to our audiences. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind for your next video based on our experiences:

Be Creative

You are fighting for a minute of attention. Make it interesting. Make it entertaining. And, above all, make it personal.

Our video: We work with our clients to effectively communicate with their audiences by helping to cut through the clutter – and the corporate clichés – often impeding meaningful strategy and results. In other words, we press our partners to keep it simple. With that theme as our video muse, who better to illustrate the value of simplicity than kids? We invited our colleagues’ children to read business jargon, highlighting the ridiculousness of phrases and expressions we should vow never to utter again.

Know Your Audience

Appeal to the emotion of the season and to the realities of your industry.

Our video: We knew our clients would be familiar with much of the jargon featured in the video (and have probably used more than one!) so they were in on the joke. But it was the kids that would resonate most, their cute faces peering from behind the desk as they stumbled over corporate speak. And the best part was our ability to include our employees’ own children or the children of their family and friends. Everyone was part of this project.

Measure the Impact

What does success look like? Understand your goals and set realistic – and measurable – expectations for the final product.

Our video: All of our communications are designed and delivered with the intent to engage clients and prospects; it’s one more way to establish and strengthen relationships. The holiday video, embedded on the agency website, received nearly 600 unique page-views (570 YouTube views) within the first six days, and the average visitor spent two minutes and 27 seconds on our website. But more impressive were the reactions from all who have viewed the video thus far – it made them laugh and smile, and the kids who participated have each watched it more than a few hundred times.

So as you “close the loop” on 2012 and consider video as part of your organization’s strategy for advancing deliverables in 2013, try not to “boil the ocean.” Rather, let’s all remember to keep simple – in our holiday sentiments, in business and in life.



About the Author: Andrew Ruotolo is Assistant Account Executive and Video Specialist at Stern + Associates, a full-service public relations, marketing and digital communications agency with offices in Cranford, N.J. and Cambridge, Mass. Specializing in thought leadership programming, the company gives voice to ideas, people and organizations impacting the world by applying its Connected Communications® approach, fusing the best of traditional media, digital, marketing and direct engagement strategies to generate measurable payoffs for its growing roster of national and international clients. Andrew blogs about cinematic corporate videos at http://sternassociates.com/blog/