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On my first day in the TV newsroom I was given one piece of advice I’ve never forgotten – “There are no business stories, only human ones.” 

Corporations, clients, crew, customers… ultimately, they are all people. To tell the big story, you’ve got to make it personal and individual. That’s why we see so many common tropes in business news coverage. Interest rates – find a struggling family and explain what’s happening to them. The economy – find a market or store and tell the big story in miniature.

This raises some interesting challenges for professional services firms like Management Consultancies getting their expertise across. The open heart surgery they do on clients – bundled together as their particular brand of “Transformation” – is very much at a corporate level. Given companies can’t talk, an effective case study must unpack Transformation and make it understandable on a personal, individual level.

So a good video case study is not about the new software tool, or the system that got implemented, or even the new management structure. It’s about the lives your work has changed. It’s the “if I can use this program anyone can and it saves me 5 hours a week” or “the collaboration and leadership skills I’ve acquired have transformed my life at home” (both real examples from our interviews by the way). That’s what makes a consultancy case study video engaging, watchable and ultimately – effective.

Narrative considerations. 

I’m going to cover specific types of case study videos (Op Model, Leadership, Systems Implementation) in future articles. For this first one we’re going to look at “all-in-one” omnibus case study videos which take a general approach to summing up a consultancy project. There are a few ingredients common to all case study videos, driven by the dual need to not only explain the work but also to gain public endorsement from the client for a job well executed. Plan to have these archetypes represented among the interview pool in your case study video.

+  Senior buy-in
The boss. The highest CXO you can get your hands on to provide context for the work done (ie frame the problem) and most importantly, provide the sunny uplands ending quote for the video explaining the fabulous place the company is now in to make the most of the future.

+  Consultancy contract owner
The person who knows the consultancy best and had day to day contact with the embedded team. They provide the first of the really significant personal elements – “what were the consultants of  X like to work with?” 

+  Management success story/s
Skills acquisition – personal again. Whether it’s the leadership program that turned individuals into high performing teams, or the negotiation, meeting management and even IT skills that energised and gave new confidence to mid level and senior managers. This is where the rubber meets the road of Transformation stories. It’s the transformation of individuals that together transforms the company.

+  Lean in moment
Nuggets of honesty and authenticity that come from the workers lower down the hierarchy. They are not about the philosophy or the big picture. For them, this is about how their lives got better / more efficient / more productive and work got fulfilling again as a result of the transformation project. Senior leaders are usually great about talking about strategy, but from this cohort you get genuine insights into the implementation and some of the most moving and engaging soundbites.

+  Senior project consultant (optional)
Some of our consultancy clients think that the voices in a case study video should be their client’s alone. Personally, I think there is room to hear from the lead consultant too. Not least because it helps ensure the management consultancy’s name & brand is included even if the video is seen out of context on a third party platform. I also like the two way feedback – not just what the client thought of the consultancy but also what the consultancy got out of working with the client. But we appreciate some consultants just want to be the invisible hand, the power behind the throne and not venture into the spotlight.

See it, say it…
Another golden maxim of the TV news business. A good case study video, a good video of anything is not simply a parade of talking heads. There is as much thought put into the visuals as the interview soundbites. Video is Latin for “I see” after all. We’ll do a full article on how to write the best video brief later in this series but for now here are the main things to bear in mind for mangement consultancy case study videos.

= Company operations
Whatever the client company does for business, it needs to be filmed. So whether that’s shops, factories, offices, trading floors, water treatment plants, whatever, access is necessary and ideally film some of the interviews in these locations which visually sum up what the enterprise is all about. For example, if you’re are talking about reforming the supply chain and saving on warehousing costs then it is more impactful to record that interview in a warehouse.

= Meetings & Interactions
So much about “transformation” is about working better together and flavours of this come up time and again in interviews. If people are talking about more agile decision making or better meetings we need to have some examples of what they’re saying. It’s worth planning for team meetings, one on ones and if the timing is fortuitous even some all hands or town halls that the crew can drop in on to film.

= The Interviewees
Invariably people’s answers need editing, even if it’s to chop out a rogue umm or aah. Some shots of the interviewees going about their jobs, interacting with colleagues, even tapping away at their computer are a whole lot better than a jump-cut reframe or my personal bête noire, the “waving hands” shot. It also keeps the attention on them, relevant to what they’re saying.

= The Context
If you enjoy the BBC 2 series “Inside the factory” you’ll be familiar with the repetition of every episode showing exteriors of that week’s factory even though most of the buildings across the series look pretty much the same. This context is important because it communicates the character of the client company without a word needing to be said. It’s a thematic introduction to orientate the viewer about what sort of case study they’re going to be seeing. White collar, retail, industrial etc. It is production time well spent to grab some shots from beyond the front door when filming case study videos.

= There’s always the Library
Whether it’s drone aficionados or production companies looking to monetise B-roll they filmed, commercial footage libraries have really come of age in the last few years. Footage recorded specifically for your video is always best, but image libraries can get you out of trouble for generic shots – like city aerials for example. It’s a lot cheaper to spend a few hundred pounds on a good quality clip than to hire a drone or helicopter camera. Adobe Stock or Shutterstock are two of the best and most established libraries, but more spring up every week. This isn’t the answer for an entire video, but it certainly works to plug the odd gap.
Calling the viewer to action

Putting it all together, where a good Management Consultancy case study video takes the audience is pretty simple –  “see what we did for X and give us a call to make the same thing happen in your business”. By bringing the art & science of your transformation approach alive on-screen you are demonstrating real-world examples of the problems you solve coupled with first party validation from your clients. Can’t argue with that!

Mahne Creative Media is an independent specialist media production agency operating. We pride ourselves on the quality of our storytelling. We unlock the heart of the story to connect and engage target audiences through video, podcasts and training.

Mahne Creative Media has created graduate recruitment video series for Wells Fargo, the Financial Conduct Authority and ING as well as stand alone single recruitment / induction videos for several small and medium sized enterprises.