TV@Work - A podcast interview with Ron Shewchuk

Ron Shewchuk is the producer of the podcast TV@Work, a show focusing on best practices, ideas and innovation in the enterprise social video space. 

I had the pleasure to be interviewed by Ron for his episode #4, which is affiliated to the popular podcast series For Immediate Release produced by Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson.

Here is the interview. Enjoy!

Podcast interview with Ron Shewchuk and Paolo Tosolini

Want employees to create videos? Make it a game

(This interview was originally published on Ragan Communications web site)

Can you spot the differences between these two statements?

1. “You’re required to create three videos a month.”
2. “If you make the effort to create three videos each month, you’ll get your own video equipment and software to use for free. Not only that, we’ll recognize you as a leader in the company.”

It’s like night and day, isn’t it? According to Paolo Tosolini, director of emerging media at Run Studios, all it takes is a little incentive—a little bit of making video production into a game—to get employees excited about bringing their expertise to their company’s video messaging. It’s a good way to get employees to watch important videos, as well.

Gamification badges

The three mechanics

Gamification, when it comes to employee video, isn’t just about rewards, Tosolini says, though those can be an incentive. It’s about understanding what employees want to get out of going the extra mile.
With that in mind, Tosolini lists three mechanics that a video program with gamification elements can have to get employees excited:

1. Game mechanics, which reward behaviors that you want from your employees and which help accomplish business goals, such as finishing up training modules within a certain amount of time.
2. Reputation mechanics, which elevate the statuses of people within your culture using badges, levels, leaderboards, and other methods of displaying accomplishments.
3. Social mechanics, which enable sharing, recommending, and notifying colleagues of positive behaviors.

These three mechanics work together, Tosolini says, to make a program mutually beneficial. Employees get rewards and recognition, and more videos get produced.

More production

If one department is producing every video a company makes, that company isn’t using all its resources, Tosolini says. “Knowledge really resides among employees,” he says.
Beyond that, delegating video production to employees generates a slew of ideas and keeps costs fairly low, particularly if employees use their own equipment, such as smartphones.

“You could run contests,” Tosolini suggests. “For example, the company SAP decided to run a contest for their 40th anniversary to crowdsource the best songs to celebrate their anniversary.”

Qualcomm logo

Enterprising employees submitted about 200 videos featuring 1,000 employees from all over the world, he says.
Qualcomm “created a montage of the videos and used it as the kickoff video for their company meeting,” Tosolini says. That montage was included in the company’s entry into the Great Place to Work competition as well. Qualcomm ranked No. 11 this year.
Qualcomm didn’t even offer any big prizes that Tosolini knows of. The reward was the intrinsic motivation of employees making their voices heard and boosting their reputations, he says.

“If you’re running an employee-generated program, you want to make sure that those who participate become your heroes.”
Even so, prizes can be good, too. A program that Tosolini ran at Microsoft, titled “Academy Rewards,” enabled employees to win all sorts of goodies, such as laptops and phones, by trading in accrued points.
“The idea was that, if you create content, videos, we are going to assign you points,” Tosolini says. “We also want you, the employee who created the content, to tell everybody else you did it. By becoming your own marketer, you’re going to get more points, because for every view of your video, you will get additional points.”

More viewing

Tosolini says companies can use similar elements—badges, points, etc.—to get people to watch a video or series of videos. He used a hypothetical software company that was upping its output as an example.

“How do you train your sales force to get up to speed quicker on your product?” Tosolini asks. “You need to invent some sort of mechanism for them to get their training more often.”
What was a chore now becomes something people want to do.
“It’s not just gamification here,” he says. “It’s smart use of corporate resources to stimulate employees to go the extra mile to accomplish a business objective.”

The state of employee generated video inside the enterprise

[This is a reprint of a guest post we contributed to Simply Communicate and distributed to 15K subscribers of their web site]

Based on recent research by IDC, the top three drivers for internal video adoption in organizations are training, video messaging and executive communications. However, while the research reveals the business reasoning behind this trend, each company implements their video programs in different ways.

In this article I’ll share some of the results of my own research I personally conducted by interviewing several organizations across various industries on the kind of business processes and adoption strategies that fuel their internal video programs.

The rise of social and mobile video

There used to be a time when video distribution was as simple as posting a link on the intranet. But the digital workplace has been evolving towards a social and mobile experience, and media content has followed suit, too.

VZTube, Verizon Wireless internal YouTube platform

Let’s take for example the Mayo Clinic which invested early on considerable resources in creating a solid infrastructure for internal training. Ernie Hain, Video Production Unit Head, leads a staff of 14 people (8 producers / directors, 4 editors, 2 Motion Graphic artists) tasked to feed their internal cable system with fresh videos serving their 60,000 employees. Nurses and physicians increasingly need this content to be sharable and portable, pushing the company to augment the current distribution model with an internal system enabled for mobile access.

Verizon Wireless launched its VZTube platform in 2005 mostly for training and internal communications. Being a mobile company, they have been strategizing training videos to be easily consumable on small screens in order to support B2B and indirect retail engagements. “Videos are always considered supplemental and never a replacement to official updates,” explained Gary Minor, Midwest Area Employee Communications Manager at Verizon Wireless. “’Employees can quickly familiarize with a topic using media, but we always want them to pay attention to the details.”

Crowdsourcing knowledge from your workforce

Knowledge is one of those assets that is distributed all across an organization. However, establishing the flow of information from those who have it to those who need it has always been a challenge. Using video is a smart way to tackle this problem, although it needs to be contextualized as part of a larger strategy that includes easy ways to capture, categorize and distribute it.

Steven Rath Morgan, Manager Global Learning Process at Xerox, explains how high performing organizations have a strong learning culture. Xerox believes that employees should be encouraged to share knowledge that drives performance, and the company should provide the means to make it happen. That’s why they launched an internal user-generated video platform that encourages everybody to ‘Show, Share, and Lead’ through the power of video on their PCs, tablets or smartphones.

Employee generated content at Xerox

If done correctly, the economics of crowdsourcing content are there. Nina Kelley-Rumpff, Program Manager, Enterprise Collaboration at SAP, told me that the company has been open in letting employees publish their own videos straight to their ‘internal YouTube’ platform. The results? A sounding success with 5000 submissions and half a million views in the first two years of running the program.

Both Xerox and SAP believe that the policing of the content shouldn’t be a task solely assigned to a specific individual or team for pre-approval. Governance can be driven, in part, through social dynamics, which means that employees should be trusted to do the right thing when they create and publish their videos. User-generated content providers cannot upload anonymously. Viewers have the ability to rate, comment and report any content that is inappropriate, and so far neither company has experienced any problem by embracing this open approach.

Correlating motivation to social video

In his book Drive, best-selling author Daniel Pink explores the triggers of human motivation. He argues that employees can be organically motivated by the challenge of self-improvement and achieving common and higher goals, provided they are given some autonomy to make that happen.

Drive by Daniel Pink

How do those findings relate to video in the enterprise? Very well, indeed. Let’s think about what could persuade people to spend time recording themselves to the benefits of others. After all, everybody is already busy with their day jobs, and they might not be interested in spending time learning how to shoot or edit videos.

There are a couple of approaches here: the first one is to include these deliverables as part of the employee commitments. This might work to a certain extent, but anecdotal evidence shows that people will create videos out of the necessity of being compliant with their goals more than anything else. The second approach is to demonstrate value in sharing knowledge by correlating this effort to an opportunity of showcasing expertise in a particular field.

The latter will likely yield the best results, and the company should consider ways to leverage internal communications to praise those efforts which will ultimately translate in a positive boost of the contributors’ reputation.

Adding game mechanics to the mix

Gamification is a fashionable word these days. By gamifying a process, you reward people for accomplishing certain tasks and reaching various goals. The rewards could be tangible or intangible.

To accelerate user generated contributions, Microsoft had a program called Academy Rewards, named after their enterprise YouTube platform. Employees accrued points for each video they uploaded and they also received points when people watched them. This stimulated employees not only to create content but also to advertise it among their colleagues. Points were then redeemable for tech gadgets via an online store.

Another popular way to get employees involved is to run internal contests. Laura Shanley, Staff Employee Communications Specialist at Qualcomm, explained to me how the company recently asked employees to record a video on why they loved to work there. The campaign was named ‘I ♥ Q’ and produced more than 200 short user generated clips involving more than one thousand employees. The outcome was so successful that Qualcomm decided to remix those videos into a single montage and use it to kick off their company meeting. It was also submitted to the ‘Great Place To Work’ contest. This initiative accomplished multiple goals, including fostering team building by incentivizing employees to meet new colleagues to create a video.

If there is a single lesson to draw from my research it is that employees can be a great source of stories and learning content if you know how to engage and motivate them properly. The companies who let go some of the control on user generated content are the ones that are benefiting the most from this approach

How mobile video can make you a communication hero

I’m a big believer that the best camera is the one that’s with you. So if you own a smartphone, you already have what it takes to create good videos.

But does this principle apply also in a business environment, where you might be asked to interview a client at an event, or visually document a procedure for training purposes? Yes, it does and while your smartphone alone is a good start, you may want to consider a few apps and accessories to enhance the quality of your deliverable.

Here are a few resources that you’ll find handy if you want to try video storytelling with your smartphone.

  1. Mobile video shopping list by Drew Keller, curator of
  2. Video tutorial: How to supersize your smartphone to capture better audio and video 

Drew and I are also frequent speakers on the topic of mobile video in corporate communications. Here is the presentation that we recently delivered at a conference hosted by Ragan Communication and Disney