Viewers Don’t Want a Polished Sound Bite Machine, Says Author of Book Blasting Media Training

Filmmaker Vern Oakley talks authenticity and corporate responsibility video storytelling
Aug 2, 2017 4:05 PM ET
By Dave Armon

When I travel to Northampton, Massachusetts, to spend time at 3BL Media’s headquarters, I invariably walk away smarter about the way corporate social responsibility and sustainability communicators do their jobs.

My colleagues on 3BL Media’s media consultant team work closely with clients, publishing content and reporting back on the effectiveness of various media types.

While some content types ebb and flow in popularity, video remains a reliable performer. 

It’s no wonder.  YouTube is the second most trafficked website in the world, with 20 billion visits a month. 

For business audiences, videos telling stories about corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are accessed by fund managers and analysts over the Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters platforms.

I’m not the only one who thinks video is perhaps the most important medium.  Read what best-selling author and digital marketing entrepreneur Seth Godin wrote recently:

“Every business major takes a writing course, but that’s not our future.  Instead, everyone with something to say is going to need to say it on camera.  And Vern Oakley’s crash course is a great place to start.”

Who is Vern Oakley?

Vern is a friend who, like me, has dedicated his career to working with brands and senior executives on communicating news to important audiences, both internal and external.  He lives in Chatham, N.J., where he has operated Tribe Pictures since the film and and video production company started in 1986.  Vern is also a new author, having published Leadership in Focus this past winter.

In the book, Oakley writes that authenticity suffers when those appearing on camera look like they’ve just completed a media training course – a mainstay in the toolkit for many PR pros.

“While media training prepares you for some specific situations, it can suck all the authenticity out of you and leave nothing but a corporate talking head,” warns Oakley in his new book, Leadership in Focus. “It teaches people to pivot, to avoid, to squirm, and to dodge. Media training helps people go on Fox News or sit with Charlie Rose or get in a good quip at the debate, but what happens in media training is the total opposite of what it takes to be you on camera.  Viewers don’t want a polished sound bite machine.  They want a real human.”

In my new role as publisher of CR Magazine, I decided to invite Vern to talk about CSR storytelling on film during COMMIT!Forum, Oct. 11-12 at MGM National Harbor, just outside Washington, D.C.  We invite you to join us and harness the power of video for your corporate responsibility initiatives.

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