Episode 11: Brands as broadcasters

Episode 11: Brands as broadcasters

Ep 11: Serious Social – Brands as broadcasters

Instead of pitching or even bringing in a broadcaster, become the broadcaster. Gain insight on how to make your live broadcasts rival the messaging and quality seen on BBC News, Bloomberg and more.

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Full Transcript

Welcome to the Serious Social podcast, created by the straight-talking social media experts at immediate future.

Building a live broadcast at your branded event costs less than the build cost of some exhibition stands – CJ reveals all in this episode, recorded live on Facebook on Friday 29th May 2020.


CJ –

Today, we’re going to explore events and specifically how we transformed a key branded event through an innovation we pioneered called Brands as Broadcasters. If you can stick around for the next 10-minutes of so, you will see how we took an event with an annual attendance of just over 12,000 people and brought hundreds of thousands of C-Suite officers from around the world, to the event. I’m going to say that again, we brought hundreds of thousands of C-Suite officers to an event. In doing so, we greatly influenced the investment and return metrics. We showcased our customer as a true innovator. We hooked in new prospects to a brand story they would not otherwise have seen.

And before the cynics watching say, oh you’re going to tell us how you shot a video and got ‘millions of impressions blah, blah, blah’. I’m not. I’m going to discuss how we created a live news-style broadcast at a prominent event and produced such draw to the live content we had C-Suite officers watching the same amount of content it would take them to fly around the world fifteen times non-stop, only watching our live broadcast. We’re only going to be discussing the sanity metric of viewed time.

I bet that’s piqued your interest. It’s well documents we work with Fujitsu, the leading technology and services provider. Fujitsu and immediate future share some key philosophies: 1) we both hate boring social content and we’re committed to producing content that makes a real difference to business and society, and 2) we don’t believe in paying attention to those urban myths like ‘long-form video doesn’t perform on social media’ or ‘those tactics only work in the consumer markets’. The greatest compliment I can pay Fujitsu is that they are a dream client. They challenge us and back us to come up with innovations and new concepts. In the five years we’ve worked with Fujitsu, every time we’ve taken a never-before-done idea or concept to them, they’ve said, let’s test it and see if it works. There are few brands that do that, and Fujitsu reaps great rewards as a result. They are bold and brave, but you would expect that from one of the world’s leading innovators.

Brands as Broadcasters was an idea cultivated four-years ago whilst we were filming some Q&A interviews at Fujitsu Forum in Munich. These were pre-recorded videos featuring general views and cutaways of the event, to create the usually edited event films you see captured at every event. I remember saying to Jim Millen, we should take this to the next level. Imagine filming live, having a technology-news channel exploring the real challenges businesses face today and fronting up to questions and challenges that most tech companies cower away from. The initial response was, we’ve tried to pitch broadcasters before but there are editorial challenges. Absolutely, you’re right, I said, but I’m not saying we pitch or even bring in a broadcaster. We become the broadcaster. I’m suggesting we build the branded broadcast from the ground-up and do so on the very commitment that we’re going to create the compelling and sometimes controversial interviews you would usually see on the likes of BBC News, Bloomberg or a Reuters TV channel.

An idea was born. Now it was about building and executing it. I should say, we’re fortunate at IF to have people spanning many backgrounds. We have staff including founder Katy Howell and myself who are BBC News regulars and used to operating in broadcast environments, and we have teams with the pivotal experience of producing and broadcasting everything from Discovery Channel documentaries to Sky Sports Super Sunday Live. But strangely, whilst important, the key to broadcasting at a brand event, isn’t just the technology you bring in, although that’s, of course, important – as we build a full outside broadcast studio equipped with 4k studio cameras, audio desks, vision mixers and the expert staff required to operate these. In short, out on location, we build a mini Gallery that you would find in any major studio. The critical part to success, the key to your success is in scripting and the topics covered. You have to mine the true issues and problems existing in business and society – the provocative or controversial topics that weigh on people’s minds. Those very topics that brands all-to-often shy away from.

To help you understand what we mean, I’ll give you an example: Artificial Intelligence is key to an array of innovations making a significant impact in business and society. But, it’s not without its sceptics, and for good reason. As with any technology, there are sadly those who use it without the right knowledge, expertise, skills or even ethics applied. The subsequent misuse fosters distrust and scepticism is born. Just over a year ago, at the very time, we were broadcasting, news broke of an AI used in America on Facial Recognition. A well-known retail store in the West Coast was wrongly identifying a person of colour as a criminal. They were ejected from the store in the most degrading of fashions. It should never have happened. Apologies were too slow. The poor individually was understandably greatly affected by the incident. Although nothing to do with Fujitsu, I challenged Fujitsu saying, we can’t discuss AI innovation and ignore failings like this. We need to address the warranted questions our audience will have. To their credit, they agreed. One of the live interviews we broadcast was discussing innovation in retail and how those innovations could potentially positively impact our high street stores and their footfall. We started the interview by discussing and addressing the key failing in America. Highlighting that many people build AIs, but few then apply the Machine Learning needed to ensure AIs are built without bias and with ethics and morals required – something Fujitsu blaze a trail on. The ML, or Machine Learning allows millions of unbiased data point to be applied, to ensure the AI, irrespective of the bias, intended or not, that’s woven into the base code, is then irradiated. Had ML been applied to the US retailers AI, it would not have failed so badly? Their brand would not have lost trust. Loyal customers would not have been grossly wronged. The innovation would have shone.

In short, we created compelling, insightful and ‘news-worthy’ content that hooked in our audiences and did so on a topic that was firmly on their radar. Over two and half days of Fujitsu Forum, Fujitsu Forum TV LIVE streamed live to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube a total of 44 live interviews and 4 live keynotes were broadcast. Prior to this only attendees at the actual event got to see the keynotes. Each live interview we broadcasted lasted between 10 and 14-minutes. If we ran longer than that, I had the director screaming in my ear ‘wrap it up, get off air!’. Oh, I should say, I’ve a dual role. For Fujitsu, I host and anchor all of their live broadcasts. We’ve broadcast live from America, Canada, Japan and Germany in the past couple of years for them.

The key point, we work very hard to unearth the key stories within your business, industry, society and media. We then help you to have an opinion and truly showcase the brilliance of your employed talent, the value of your intellectual property and the brilliance of your event. We explore the three to five critical questions during each interview that need debating and addressing around resonating topics. The compelling discussions naturally surpass the 10-minute marker without the boring waffle.

In year one, the test and prove case of Fujitsu Forum TV Live, we only deployed £5,000 of Paid Media, exclusively boosting the broadcast to CEOs, COOs, CIOs and CTOs around the world. Now, keep in mind videos you’ve watched, videos that have bored you and made you abandon after just a few seconds. Anyone who has created a branded video will tell you how tough it is to retain attention – and we were aiming to keep people’s attention for over 10-minutes each time. How did we fair? Well, the same amount of content was viewed by these C-Suite officers as it would take CEOs to watch every episode of Game of Thrones, from all 8 seasons, back-to-back and doing so 17 times over. Our live content was a smash hit as it addressed key issues that resonated with them and offered insight into how to unlock value from those very challenges, and in doing so moving their business forward. We had taken Fujitsu Forum and it’s encompassed smarts, out to audiences who could not get to the Munich event for whatever reason – cost, attendance sign-off, workloads etc. Yet, they were core audiences relevant to Fujitsu’s business and growth. The test and prove was a resounding success.

Year two, well Fujitsu built us a proper studio, in the heart of the event – if you go and look at any of the November 2019 broadcast, you’ll see audiences congregating around the studio. It became a focal point for at-event attendees too. The stats in year two? Well, armed with a slightly larger Media budget of just 9,000 this time, we applied the same C-Suite targeting. This time we had the same amount of content viewed as it would take CEOs to fly non-stop around the world 15 times, and ONLY watching Fujitsu Forum TV for the entire duration. We took the content to another level, using roving cameras showcasing actual live footage from the stands, as it was debated ruthlessly with guests. Customers joined us, representatives from the UN Sustainable Development Goals flew in and we, of course, broadcast the not-to-be-missed Keynotes. In total, over 2.5 days we broadcast 44 live interviews and 4 keynotes.

Year three, well Covid-19 has placed a pause, but what I can say is the now 2021 calendar is already being scoped and the live TV broadcast built for Fujitsu will be going to more events and broadcasting from more countries than ever before. We proved a concept. Proved its impact and financial sense. We innovated at an event and drove event attendance (of sort) to levels not attained before. Brand recognition rocketed.

And here’s the thing, the final killer thought for you all. Hundreds of thousands of pounds, even millions are sunk into building stands that your usual footfall will come to. Yes, you market the event, you change formats, layouts, alter contents that are presented, but you’re still relying on the goodwill of past attendees doing their part to either come again or share their opinions with colleagues and friends, to drive attendance. Few events are truly innovating and taking their proposition out to the people who would and could attend, but for whatever reason aren’t. Yet for a very modest investment – much less than some of those stands you’re building, you can take your branded event to your audience. But please, pretty please, if you’re going to do this, do it properly. Don’t just throw a camera on a chatty person. Bring in a team that can ruthlessly help you unearth the newsworthiness of your business’s smarts. I guarantee you have them. I guarantee audiences want to see them shared and debated.

If you’re after more know-how to break the social boring, subscribe now and check out the show notes for links to our website and social profiles.