Caught on camera: Video etiquette for the office

Tom Blake
In an age when mobiles are a major part of our lives, an embarrassing video can go viral in minutes (Source: Getty)

The expression “may you live in interesting times” is said to be an English translation of a Chinese curse. When it comes to moments caught on camera, what is interesting to some can be damaging to others. From the leaking of the script for Game of Thrones and Walmart’s training video to prevent workers from unionising to the Queen’s infamous childhood salute, examples abound.

While the hype around them was short lived, the reputational damage – for the individuals, and importantly the brands involved – and cost of remediation, will last longer.

The virtues of video

Video can be a game changer. According to Forrester Research’s Dr James McQuivey, “a minute of video is worth 1.8m words.” And the importance of video in our business lives is evident in a new report by Cass Business School and Imagen.

From video conferences and training tutorials to product demonstrations, video is central to business today, and 79 per cent of companies plan to invest in it over the next 12 months. Companies consider video to be the most cost-effective, engaging and impactful communication channel for both internal and external purposes, significantly higher than any other form of communication.

As video increases in importance, some form of etiquette – or “vetiquette”, as I like to call it – is advisable. Mistakes can be costly. In an age when mobile phones are a major part of our daily lives, embarrassing recordings can be uploaded in seconds, and can become viral in minutes.

So, here are three principles of vetiquette.

Be aware of what is and isn’t acceptable

Understand the influence and potential outreach of a video, once it has been shared. It may enhance a company’s reputation as it has committed to more personal communication with clients. Indeed, 80 per cent of UK companies in the study believe that video content gives them an edge over the competition. But it also has the potential to wreak irreparable damage on a firm’s brand.

Stop yourself from sharing any content filmed in jest which contains embarrassing moments. In the wrong hands, such videos could negatively impact you and the brand. You should also avoid any association with inappropriate videos taken outside the workplace. Your intentions might have been harmless, but misdemeanours outside the office can adversely impact your work reputation.

Learn how to produce and use video

Endeavour to learn how products, services and brands can be integrated into video, video communication and video-based communities effectively. Aside from the client-facing benefits, video can speed up processes within your organisation and can be useful for fostering camaraderie within a team. When a new recruit joins a firm, sending a digital postcard with a link to a personalised video message can make them feel welcome with relatively little effort.

Security, confidentiality, privacy

Make sure to establish and observe security, privacy and confidentiality policies. Almost 90 per cent of websites featuring videos choose third party solutions, rather than self-hosting. Both options may have serious security ramifications if not managed properly. User registration and identification are crucial to help to deter data leaks, as activity and usage are clearly logged. Watermarking video makes it clear where a video originated from – declaring ownership and copyright for anyone considering posting on third party websites.