The communications profession is in the midst of a revolutionary change (you might have noticed). In my mind, it boils down to a simple concept:
Old model = company has one voice
New model = company has many voices
Ah, the good old days. It used to be easy to go to the “official company spokesperson” to get the scoop on what “the company” was thinking. Now, with the advent of Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and a bunch of other stuff that probably hasn’t even been invented yet, and the blurring lines between people’s personal and work lives (damn you, Google!), it’s a lot harder for us communications folks to stay in control of how the corporate message comes out.
If you are the head of communications for your company, what should you do? Lock all the doors, scare the employees into online silence, and continue the status quo? This is what some companies are doing. There are very real concerns with how and when employees use social media tools in a work setting.
But ultimately, the shift toward a company of many voices rather than one voice is going to happen whether you like it or not. As Bob Dylan said, “You don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows.”
So rather than forcing yourself into a sucker’s choice of “Should I communicate my corporate story well or allow my employees to be using social media at work?” perhaps there is a better question:
Yesterday, Red Hat launched a new series of short films called Red Hat Stories. These films are a key element in our effort to document “the Red Hat way” of doing things. We’ve started with sixteen films covering everything from an overview of what makes Red Hat useful, to our technology leadership, even a set about our perspective on how to liberate innovation. The piece below is a short, sweet distillation of the Red Hat way, and it speaks for itself.
I use the word “film” rather than video on purpose because it better captures the spirit of what we are trying to do with digital media at Red Hat. Films are what you make when you are captuing stories. Videos are what you make when you are selling your stuff. So we aspire to film, certainly with our most strategic work, but sometimes settle for video when the project demands it.
Red Hat’s first attempt at using film as a medium for storytelling was Truth Happens, which we created almost seven years ago. I’ve told that story in an earlier blog post. Since Truth Happens, we’ve expanded our efforts to use film, video, and other digital media tools in many ways.
One day in 2003, Matthew Szulik came to us and said he wanted to create a video to show before his keynote at Linuxworld. Now no one in our group had ever done a video before, but we figured we’d take a shot. My good friend David Burney had just hired a guy right out of college into his design firm (his name was Tim Kiernan, one of the most talented guys I have ever worked with) who specialized in video/film, so we got to work. If I remember correctly, we produced the entire thing from beginning to end in about a month. Originally, we only planned to show the video once, at the keynote.