When is a Stakeholder not a Stakeholder?
When they aren’t as profoundly fascinated by your corporate video as you are.
When your company’s ambition to make a positive social impact, and even its successes, are smothered in Dull.
Dull talking heads yammering away, blissfully unaware that the camera doesn’t just not love them — but wishes it could run out of battery.
Cheap library muzak that adds insult to injury with a nice layer of corporate cheese, for that truly inauthentic effect.
In short, storytelling that through its clichéd choices of narrative technique shows a complete lack of respect for its audience. Which is why videos about sustainability, CSR and corporate purpose tend to languish on YouTube with 51 views and 1 comment (from the anonymised client who commissioned it).
Sadly, even your CEO may not give as much of a toss about your Rwandan schools programme as you do.
Your colleagues in Marketing may nod in violent agreement with you about the reputational benefits of your water footprint reduction — but after the meeting, allocate a fiver of budget to it.
Everyone else, from fellow employees to customers and shareholders — are as likely to watch the kind of well-meaning but dull corporate video I am referring to as Donald Trump. Like him, they may be online, but no effort has been made to earn their ‘engagement’.
Yes, they SHOULD be engaged. They are your stakeholders.
Or are they?
Maybe we should think of them as… human beings.
Like Rag 'n’ Bone Man said, they’re only human after all.
Your audience needs to be inspired and motivated. Incentivised emotionally to spend time with you. Never before have human beings - yes even the 50,000 employed by your company to give a shit about your Peruvian rainforest initiative - been so attention-poor. Your video will lose them at hello, unless the effort's made to intrigue, captivate, entertain or wow them.
Why invest in life-changing Social Impact without the considerably smaller investment in Creative Impact?
Without it, noone will know what your company has achieved. And let's be clear here: you DO want them to know. Otherwise you wouldn't have made a film in the first place. So why make a boring one? A good film may not cost any more than a bad film. But eventually it could become priceless.
So come on — let’s treat these audiences with the respect they are given when any other issue, product or service is presented to them.
Let’s use the same creativity in our storytelling to inspire, intrigue, amaze and convert them to your cause. Let’s earn the right to their hearts and minds, not arrogantly expect it.
Let’s stop making films for stakeholders. And let’s start making them for humans.
Only then will corporate communications wake up to the potential of creative ideas and production craft skills - and produce the Creative Impact so richly deserved by your company's programme of Social Impact.