At Blackbird we sense a growing interest in CEO messages on film. Especially large global companies with offices throughout the world have embraced the film medium and made it a natural part of the management’s communication with the employees.
But how do you create an effective, authentic CEO message? And what does the management and communications department need to consider before starting to produce CEO messages?
Find a form that suits your CEO
We are all familiar with the rule of thumb which says that 20 per cent of a message is spoken words and 80 per cent is physical appearance. Therefore, our main advice to companies about to produce CEO messages on film is: Start by identifying what your CEO does well on camera. And do not try to squeeze him into a prearranged format.
Test different formats to learn what works well with the personality of your CEO. For some, getting out of the office and filming on location works best, while for others an interview or conversation format is more suitable – especially if you intend to ask questions which you know the employees would like an answer to. This helps to make the communication relevant and credible.
A state-of-the-art form of communication
One of the CEOs who have developed an excellent and very personal form of expression is Mark Albenze, CEO of Global Wind Power and Renewables Service at Siemens. When we produce CEO messages for Mark Albenze we collaborate closely with the Head of Communications at Siemens Wind Power Services, Matthias Harenburg. I have asked Matthias Harenburg what it is the film medium can do in terms of management communication. He explains that the employees at Siemens Wind Power Services consider film a state-of-the-art form of communication. Especially at a global level. Filmed messages give them a chance to ask questions via the company’s social media channels. This creates a form of dialogue between the employees and management.
A good compromise between personal and electronic communication
According to Matthias Harenburg, the key is to make the communication personal – and this is where the film medium has a unique advantage: ‘Personal communication is the most effective way to communicate. We know that facial expressions and gestures play a key role in a speaker’s credibility. But at the same time, personal communication is limited in time and space. Films are a good compromise between personal and electronic communication. They are independent from time and space: You can reach a huge amount of people all around the globe. And it can transport – to a certain degree – the facial expressions and gestures that make personal communication so powerful’, he says.
Advice for CEOs who wish to communicate with their employees on film
As already mentioned, it is important to learn what the CEO appearing on film is comfortable with. This is something that Siemens Wind Power Services has been really good at. So what advice would Matthias Harenburg give to CEOs who want to communicate with their employees via the film medium?
- Know what you want to talk about without learning your text word for word – this would limit your natural appearance.
- Don’t shoot the film too early in the morning. You will look tired in front of the camera.
- Try to relax. Think and act in front of the camera as if you were talking to a good friend. A relaxed atmosphere will help you to get your messages across.