Pension Plan Video A Big Hit

October 26, 2007

Some catching up here, but the video project I produced debuted a couple of weeks ago and was a big hit. As part of the Municipal Pension Plan‘s annual general meeting, my team and I created three short, commercial-style videos for the pension plan’s board of trustees. The videos are meant to inform members of the pension plan about its value. Each video takes on a different angle and audience and in 2.5 minutes–and with simple, plain language–explains why being a member of the Municipal Pension Plan is a good thing.

Anyway, as I say, the videos are a big hit, and not just for our clients. They were recently showcased as part of a presentation given at a pensions conference in eastern Canada and the feedback was extremely positive. We’ve had requests for DVD copies and people wondering when they’ll be posted to our website.

It’s no wonder to me that these videos are popular. They are unique and completely atypical for the industry. This is pensions we’re talking about. To get people to watch–much less click away having absorbed some key messages–we couldn’t just produce the usual talking-head piece. And believe me, in our research, other pension administrators have posted classic talking-head videos that run up to 45 minutes! People simply won’t spend long stretches at their monitor squinting at another boring video about a topic that, unless they are in their fifties, they likely don’t spend much time thinking about anyway.

We wanted our videos to move, to by dynamic and engaging, keeping our primary delivery method–the web–in mind as we planned and shot. We kept our shots tight, the language simple and quick and the scenery changing. We also took into account the various visual cues that would help support our message. For example, we used, as much as possible, real locations. We wanted to reinforce through our choice of background that these were authentic Municipal Pension Plan locations. Our goal was that when pension plan members watched they would intuitively recognize the locations as “belonging” to them, thereby strengthening the video’s value message since they not only hear the actor’s words but also see their own world reflected back. Another small, but meaningful, touch was with the use of colour. The plan’s official colour is green (the actual Pantone number escapes me), so we made sure that our actor wore a green blouse beneath her sweater. Not a big deal, but often it’s the details that make something truly stand out.

It’s also been gratifying to watch the videos catch on throughout our organization. They are being requested for branch staff meetings and as supporting material for meetings with employers who are considering joining the plan. They are beginning to have a life of their own, which is exactly what we had planned for. It’s exciting to see others begin to recognize the possibilities of this medium.

The videos are not yet online, but will be soon. When they are I’ll be sure to link to them.


There Is No Shelf

October 25, 2007

Check out this great video. It’s about how the web has changed the way we use information and how we still struggle, to some degree, with the legacy of paper-based information systems. I find this video particularly meaningful because of my experience managing a large website using Oracle Portal. Oracle’s system is set up almost entirely as a shelving system and even uses the term found in the video–category–to label one of its central organizational methods.

Found via Compiler 

Another Conference I’d Love to Attend (But Likely Won’t)

October 10, 2007

A blog I follow, Pro PR, has turned me on to a new conference: the Canadian Institute’s Social Media’s Conference. Just a quick glance at the agenda for the conference points to a number of items that would immediately pay dividends at my office. Best practices on employee blogs; using social media to attract top talent; how to monitor social media; implementing social media to improve internal communications.

This last one is of particular interest as our organization moves forward with our intranet redesign project. The intranet manager for the National Research Council (NRC) will be talking about using social media to add value to employee communications. The NRC is featured in the most recent Nielsen Norman Group top-ten government intranet competition and is a site we’ve used many times in the early days of our project as an example of a highly regarded intranet. It would be fantastic to learn from their intranet manager directly, especially given the resistance within my organization at considering anything that has even a whiff of “social” media. The word “social” is the big problem and most discussions on this topic need to be couched in safer words, code-like. I imagine the NRC would have had some similar challenges–they are federal government after all–so to pick the presenter’s brain could be worth the price of admission alone.

Unfortunately the conference isn’t cheap–they never are–and is in Toronto. Two big negatives. But, anyone could swing a 15% discount off the ticket price thanks to Joseph Thornley of Pro PR. In a nice use of the very tech the conference will discuss, if you send Joseph a request through Facebook he can get you the discount.

Tod Maffin On Depression

October 7, 2007

CBC Radio technology columnist and all-round tech/media guru Tod Maffin has spoken publicly
about his battle with depression. Anyone who has followed his blog knows this isn’t a new issue for him, but he has officially made it public, as he explained on CBC Radio.

Tod is one of those guys who has fully embraced the digital age. He’s a futurist and former dot.commer, and he’s always trying new ways of communicating. A little research will easily dig up a wide array of off- and online pursuits, mostly very pioneering stuff. One of the reasons I’ve always liked Tod is that he’s always looking at how technology impacts people. It’s not just about the latest trend, but how these trends are shaping the way we live. Anyone can review a product or service, but few are able to understand the bigger picture and present it in such a compelling, and often humorous, way.

I’m proud to have played a small part in one of his earlier endeavors,, producing two stories for two different episodes. His show was a unique attempt at radio in Canada, running live and interactive across Canada’s time zones show after show, starting on the East Coast and wrapping up on the West.

Anyway, it takes guts to be so candid about such a personal issue, so he has my admiration.