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Hiring an In-House Video Producer

Why and how to form a video team within your company

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Meryl Ayres
Writer
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Alyce Currier
Content Strategist
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Kelsey Stevens
Content Marketer
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Introduction

For many companies, bringing video production in-house represents uncharted territory. Figuring out how and when to start can be challenging.

There is no one-size-fits-all practice for integrating video into a larger business strategy, and each company's story will be unique. In this guide, we'll explore a few perspectives from different companies who have successfully made video a part of their organization!

Why bring video in-house?

When need, financial feasibility, and proven ROI align, the decision to hire a video producer becomes fairly clear, but assessing those factors isn't always easy. Here are a few examples of why you might pursue an in-house producer.

Taking video to the next level

Here at Wistia, we started out by experimenting with our own simple screencasts. In February 2011, our current video producer, Chris Lavigne, entered the scene. Chris brought all of his video gear with him when he visited the office one day, shot some footage, and edited together Wistia's first team video.

We put that on our blog, received some great feedback, and invited Chris back to produce more videos on a case-by-case basis. Pretty soon, he began working for Wistia 5 days a month, then 10, and finally, in September 2012, Chris agreed to join the team as a full-time video producer.

Chris Savage, CEO, Wistia:
"Before hiring Chris [Lavigne] full-time, we were going back and forth working on individual video projects. We felt that having someone dedicated to video full-time would allow us to make all sorts of videos we would never have made before, and we would all learn much faster about what worked and what didn't. We immediately started making more content and trying wackier things. The more unique content we made, and the harder we pushed, the faster we learned and iterated. It was clear very quickly that we had made the right decision."

MailChimp's first video producer created videos for everything from brand promotion to customer stories. When the company began to grow and see that video was working well for them, they began hiring video producers to work with specific teams.

Maribeth Bickford, Video Producer, MailChimp:
"When I was brought on, the idea was to have a small team experiment with video tutorials for users, to have in addition to articles with screenshots of processes. This gave support to users who were more apt to learn by watching the instructions, rather than reading them. After seeing the analytics of the first 40 videos we released into the wild, we decided it was a great thing to keep. I've been doing educational and marketing video and gifs now since 2011."

A clear need for higher quality

Similarly, Environmental Lights, a company that manufactures commercial, retail, and architectural LED lighting, realized that their video needs greatly outweighed anything they could produce on their own.

Greg Thorson, CEO, Environmental Lights:
"There was a long list of videos that we wanted to complete, but we did not have the resources to dedicate to complete the videos. The company was almost 6 years old at that point. Yes, we had many scrappy videos with no voice over at that point. We knew we needed to hire someone who was able to produce higher quality videos with voice over and graphics that were as professional as the rest of the departments in our company."

Developing a more informed strategy

HootSuite, a social media company with over 600 employees based in Vancouver, started out by making their own scrappy videos, and later recognized their need for a more informed video strategy.

Evan Aagaard, Lead Video Producer, Hootsuite:
"I was hired to head up Hootsuite's video program in the fall of 2012. Before that, they did have a 'video person', but she had sort of inherited the role after running webinars for a while and didn't have a background in video production. When she left, they decided it was time to up their game, and I was hired to put the polish on and develop a dedicated video content strategy. At this point, the company was about 3.5 - 4 years old, but video had always been part of their marketing mix, even if initially it was just basic cell phone and webcam clips posted to YouTube from conferences and impromptu interviews."

Deeper integration with the team and culture

Compared to an external producer, an in-house video producer has a more nuanced knowledge of the overall business strategy, a personal investment in the company's progress, and a greater comfort-level with the team.

Justine Jordan, Marketing Director, Litmus:
"Working together has become nearly seamless—[our video producer] Travis really understands our brand, business, and culture—and has become part of the Litmus team. He has tons of suggestions for creative ways to use video, and doing more videos has helped us refine our processes. We're less scared of video now, and more likely to experiment without fear of totally messing something up. Trust is also a huge factor, and we can trust Travis to help us create on-brand, high quality content."

An alternative: supplementing with external teams

Some companies find it works best to create what they can on their own (without a video producer), and hire external production teams on a case-by-case basis for larger, heavily promoted projects. Brian Cervino works on the marketing team at Trello, and he's currently producing some support videos for customers as well as videos about specific Trello features, which live on their blog.

Brian Cervino, Community, Trello:
"The use case videos of Heritage and Kickstarter were from outside production teams. We haven't really talked too much about hiring a full-time video producer yet because I think we want to make sure there is a good return on the investment. If we get a lot of value out of the use cases and maybe start doing higher end production level tutorials then we might."

Expanding beyond the first in-house video producer

If your video producer cannot keep up with all of the scripting, shooting, and editing that is being asked of them, then it's time to look into making that team bigger. Hiring a junior producer or videographer is often the best solution.

Darren Halbig, Executive Creative Director at the agency Element Three, recently made the switch from outsourcing all video to hiring an in-house video producer. He quickly found that due to the growing demand for video, he needed to hire a second videographer.

Darren Halbig, Executive Creative Director, Element Three:
“When we were hiring our first video producer, we didn’t really know what we were getting into. We had not thought about how it would impact the agency to hire just one video producer with such a high demand for video. It was chaotic yet wonderful for the first few months, but we have gained our footing since hiring a second videographer. It was key that they could collaborate easily together.”

Where does video fit in?

Video teams can come in all different shapes and sizes. Likewise, their integration into the larger organization of a company will vary. Some video teams function as internal agencies, producing projects across the entire company. Others are nestled within a particular team (often marketing or customer support), and mainly focused on one mission.

When determining where your video team might fit into the larger puzzle, it's useful to outline your video goals. What are you trying to achieve with video? Are you hoping to increase brand awareness? Teach your customers about your product? Scale communication within your office? A little bit of everything? The answers to these questions will help determine where a video producer fits into your team structure.

Case Study: Hootsuite's video trio

Hootsuite's video team is comprised of three people: a lead video producer, a junior producer, and a video designer/editor. Within the larger organizational structure, the video team is an arm of the content team, which exists within the larger marketing department.

The video team works most closely with the design and branding team to ensure that the look and feel of the content remains consistent. Lead video producer Evan Aagard noted, "we've sort of merged with the design team to unofficially become Hootsuite's 'Creative Services' team."

This "creative services" team sits together in one pod to encourage collaboration and overall alignment with brand guidelines. "You'd be amazed how quickly things can diverge if your creative production teams are physically separate," Evan said.

The hiring process

1. Learn the language

Although the line between a videographer and a video producer can be fuzzy, this division is an important one.

Evan from Hootsuite explained, "if what you need is someone to film live events and generally operate a camera (conferences, seminars, fire-side chats, etc.), then a videographer is what you're after. If you need someone to write scripts, organize shoots (including travel), hire contractors, operate a camera, direct the action, edit, and upload for release online—then what you need is a video producer."

In other words, if you're looking for someone to wear many hats, chances are you're looking for a video producer.

Beyond determining the specific role, knowing the technical language is equally important. For the interview process, learn the names of editing softwares and camera equipment, so that you can assess whether or not a candidate is knowledgeable and fits what you’re looking for. Make a list before any interviews and familiarize yourself with the terms, so that you’ll be able to make the best decision for your company.

2. Decide what you need

As with any hire, you'll want the videographer or video producer to mesh well with your general company culture. They can have a large impact on the feel of your brand, so define early what kind of help you need. Do you want someone who can guide the brand itself, or someone who can adapt to your existing style? Do you need a witty comic with a great feel for timing? A behind-the-scenes maverick with a discerning eye for design?

Before you post the job, here are some questions to help you define what you're looking for:

  • Are you looking for a video producer - someone who can concept, shoot, direct, and edit video - or a videographer, someone who can simply operate a camera?
  • Do you want this person to build a studio and buy all the necessary equipment?
    • Do you know what equipment you’d like your candidate to bring to the table?
    • If not, do you know what equipment you will provide for them? Is this equipment suitable for the types of videos you’d like to create?
    • Are you prepared to expand the video department, the equipment, and studio space in the future?
  • Are you mainly interested in live-action videos? Animations? Motion graphics?
  • Should this person be comfortable with being on camera themselves?
  • Is there a particular style of video that you would like to mimic? Find Examples!
  • Are there any other skills that this person should have?

Don’t forget to include your company values in what you are looking for in a candidate. Even if this is your first time expanding into video, it is equally important that this employee works well with your culture. Human skills and video skills for the win!

3. Write the job posting

If no one on your team is well-versed in video jargon, writing a job posting for a video role can be difficult. Luckily, many other companies have paved the way, and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

To help get you started, we've collected some real examples of video-related job postings from three different companies. We hope these samples will serve as starting points or simply food for thought as you generate a post that caters to your own company's needs.

Download 3 sample job postings from Hootsuite, Unbounce, and Wistia (PDF):

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A handy tip to kick off the search for the perfect videographer: contact wedding videographers. Some of these people will be looking for more stable work, making them solid candidates. They have the ability to share a story through video, and it's likely that they've honed the technical skills to meet your needs.

Many companies ask candidates to produce a specific video as part of the application process. Felix of Unbounce told us, "Our video applicants have to make a short, creative video telling us why they want to work here. By doing so, we get candidates who are really passionate about videos and really want to work with us. A reel can showcase their best work, but with these videos, we really feel like we are getting to know our applicants."

4. Focus on the reel

As the applications for your video role start flying in, you should let the reels do the talking. Anyone who comes in to interview for the role should have an up-to-date portfolio of their work.

"The reel is essential, it's the video producer's true resume," said Evan of Hootsuite. "The paper resume is just a formality. Their reel will tell you if they have the chops to be producing marketing-grade video content." It will also help illustrate your candidates' aesthetic preferences and editing capabilities.

Look for personal work as well as professional work from candidates. It is crucial that your video producer is truly passionate about their craft. Vacation videos aren't something to turn your nose up at—they're another way to see a candidate’s authentic video voice.

5. Interview the candidates

If the video producer is going to be a fixture in the office environment, it's imperative that they're comfortable working with and around the rest of the team. When you have candidates come in to interview, don't be afraid to ask them to bring a camera to shoot some B-roll footage in the office to determine their shooting style and tendencies. Clarify that their work will never be used to benefit your company. It's simply another opportunity for the candidate to demonstrate their expertise.

The following are some helpful interview questions that we've gathered from various companies:

  1. Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?
  2. What are some of your favorite videos or films?
  3. What kind of equipment do you use? Cameras/lighting?
  4. What post-production software are you most comfortable using?
  5. How would you describe your video aesthetic?
  6. Have you produced video from start to finish all on your own (without a team)?
  7. Do you shoot video outside of work?

Remember to also learn about a candidate's soft skills. Ask questions like, “Tell me about a group project you worked on? What was your role in the group? How do you work with others?” This will give you insight into their collaboration skills, which are hugely important for productive team dynamics.

Keeping to your company values can be hard when you are hiring your first video producer. It is tempting to focus on someone’s skill set, rather than a candidate's

A video producer will mostly likely interact with every person in your company, so it’s imperative that the other employees buy into your new addition.

Pro tip: Make a candidate scorecard for the interview process that covers various attributes and company needs.

Case Study: Growing video at Unbounce

Unbounce was almost 5 years old when they hired video producer Felix Cha onto the Customer Success team. "Ryan, the director of Customer Success, wanted videos that would not only educate our customers, but also entertain them and build stronger relationships," explained Felix.

Prior to Felix's arrival, the Customer Success team had made some screencasts that worked well for support documentation, but Felix's videos helped Unbounce build more personal relationships with their customers. Soon enough, video became a company-wide priority.

When Unbounce moved to a larger office, they invested in a studio. "Width of the room wasn't an issue, but there had to be sufficient room lengthwise to make sure the backdrop, lights, cameras, and shooters had room," Felix noted. "Sound-proofing was also a big task. We installed sound foams, curtains, and carpets to minimize the white noise."

Unbounce recently hired a second person for their video team. "We'll both become part of the creative team to take care of video needs for the entire company," said Felix. "We're hoping to produce more videos so that Unbounce can deliver even more valuable content for current and prospective customers."

Wrap up

Once you've decided on the right person to join your team, clear and frequent communication is key. Video can be a lonely island, especially if your hire is a team of one, and regular meetings with a larger group can ensure that everyone is on the same page moving forward. It's important that a video producer's ideas and projects are in-line with the company's larger mission and brand. Likewise, it's beneficial for your team to hear from a new creative voice, particularly when that voice happens to be carving out your company's video brand.

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