Creative Corner: How 360Learning Launched a Documentary During a Pandemic
November 17, 2020
Developing compelling content can be challenging in the best of circumstances. This is a lesson 360Learning is all too familiar with. The SaaS company developed a first-of-its-kind B2B docuseries called Onboarding Joei earlier this year. The 13-episode series followed Joei Chan, a new hire at the company, as she learned the ropes of her new role as 360Learning’s Director of Content.
The most compelling part? Nicolas Merlaud, Head of Creative Strategy at 360Learning, created and drove the project forward himself, and he quickly adapted to running a show from home when COVID-19 escalated into a global pandemic.
In the first part of our two-part interview, we chatted with Nicholas to pull back the curtains on Onboarding Joei. He gave us a behind-the-scenes look at how Onboarding Joei went from an idea to a full-fledged concept.
In the second half of our installment, Nicholas delves into how he launched and promoted the project, and how Onboarding Joei exceeded all expectations.
Getting the series off the ground
How did you approach pre-production?
Nicolas: Making one episode every week for 13 weeks was the hardest part for me.
On Wednesdays, for example, I had to launch an episode, edit the trailer, and promote it while also prepping for the next episode. It was a lot. This is why, for every step, I created processes, outlines, and editing skeletons to make my life easier. After a few episodes, I was given more budget to pay a freelance editor, which really helped lighten the load.
“Making one episode every week for 13 weeks was the hardest part. To make it easier, I created processes, outlines, and editing skeletons for every step.”
Before COVID-19, Joei was on my team. I decided to keep things simple by shooting with an iPhone (plugging in a RODE microphone and using a DJI steadicam for moving shots) to be at the ready to record key moments, which is how I got great meeting shots and dialogues.
During COVID-19, the team shifted to working from home, so we made the daily videos via Google Hangouts. To keep video quality consistent, I asked Joei to record herself with her phone while on Hangouts with me. Luckily for me, Joei’s partner is a filmmaker and has his own equipment. So, he set up a studio every Thursday, and I was on Hangouts, asking questions and directing remotely.
What were the initial goals for the show, and how did they evolve over time?
Nicolas: We believed creating a show no one saw before for driven professionals could also resonate with our ideal customer profile (ICP), learning and development teams. At first, I set a goal to get 10k views for the quarter. But when the quarter ended, I reached 70K views, and I stopped counting.
We got subscribers to the show, and some of them were actually qualified leads. It created a problem, but a great one: we have to make another step in the funnel, brand qualified subscribers, that we implemented in our Salesforce sequence. We had to create specific nurturing sequences, guidelines for our business development representatives team, etc.
“We got subscribers to the show, and some of them were actually qualified leads. It created a problem, but a great one: we have to make another step in the funnel, brand qualified subscribers.”
Takeaways and tips for other creators
What was the most surprising or unexpected part of the process?
Nicolas: I would say the audience’s reaction was surprising — in a good way! I wasn’t expecting so many people hooked on the story. We played with it a little, and it was really fun to watch the engagement.
“I would say the audience’s reaction was surprising — in a good way! I wasn’t expecting so many people hooked on the story.”
When the pandemic escalated and we shifted to working remotely, we toyed with the idea of ending the show. We opened a survey for viewers to weigh in on if the show must go on or not. It was unanimous, and we got amazing encouragement!
What would you say to someone who is just starting down the “creator” path?
Nicolas: If you’re hired to run a show, trust your gut. Don’t hide behind what people expect from you. If you have something to say, say it.
Also, don’t be afraid to try something no one has tried before. Present your goals clearly, and how you want to achieve them. Take feedback, and decide if you apply it or not. But own your show. If you fail, try again. You’ll get to learn and make your storytelling even better.
“If you’re hired to run a show, trust your gut. Don’t hide behind what people expect from you. If you have something to say, say it.”
Getting a series off the ground during the pandemic was no easy feat, but Nicolas and 360Learning rose to the occasion and learned a ton about creating binge-worthy content along the way. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning from this interview series about what went into launching and promoting Onboarding Joei, and if you missed part one, go check it out on our blog!
If you haven’t yet, watch the trailer for Onboarding Joei, and check out the full series over at 360Learning: