Broadcast Camera

GUEST POST: How Will the Coronavirus Change the Broadcast Business?

Frank Beacham

No matter where we are in the chain that makes up the broadcast and video business, we are all doing a common thing: telling our story. Whether we make, market, or buy the products, these stories influence all decisions. In today’s world, without a compelling story, we don’t exist.

With the coronavirus, all of us in this chain now more fully realize how interconnected we all are. With one break in the chain, the other links are affected. Unfortunately, that’s where we stand today. Many of us — due to trade show cancellations and lack of in-person sales — are looking for new ways to communicate and tell our story to customers.

Like it or not, for the next few months, most of us will have to avoid major gatherings of people. Most work will be done from home. To maintain our current base of customers, we will communicate with them via phone or over the internet. That’s the reality of the times.

One thing that is already shaping up as a major trend is the use of video over the internet. We will use it to introduce new products, instruct users on how to use existing products and to try to influence customers on what distinguishes a brand. Though many are being unwillingly forced to use this marketing technique today, the time has perhaps come to make it permanent.

It may be that every serious broadcast equipment business is going to have to develop its own mini “television station” on the internet. This, at least for the foreseeable future, may be the best way to replace in-person sales and marketing.

The technology for streaming video and audio is here, and distribution is free. When used properly, there is no better or cheaper way to reach a global audience.

By streaming video, I don’t mean standing in front of an iPhone in your kitchen and just speaking to customers. This may be OK once or twice (until the novelty wears off), but professionally produced video stories need to follow.

Sure, news releases and photos are fine for less important announcements, but video is far more compelling for major product introductions and important messages. It is also the most powerful way to communicate with customers.

Ironically, for the business they are in, most video and audio equipment companies know little about producing good-quality videos. They need professional help, like most others who are part of this vast chain. (It’s a bit like the big-name musicians streaming music from their homes using only an iPhone microphone when they have good recording equipment in the next room! What are they thinking?!)

Take, for example, an organization like NAB. With the cancellation of its major Las Vegas show, NAB is planning NAB Express shows, which will essentially showcase exhibitor videos online. How well these videos are made and what they communicate will determine the vendor’s story and the quality of its future business.

Of course, all videos begin with a good script. Like any well-told story, a video needs to communicate the central idea in a compelling way. A good company spokesperson with video skills can also be a factor. Then it needs to be professionally recorded. Amateur video has no place here.

Another useful tool for marketing is the audio podcast. Have the CEO and top engineers discuss what they are doing for customers in plain language. Allow them to offer tips on how to use the company’s products. It can be quite educational for customers. Remember, most listeners have more “ear time” than “eye time,” so audio is often has just as much impact as video.

Beyond video and audio online, it is hard to predict the future of broadcast and video-related companies after the coronavirus pandemic begins to diminish. But since commercial video viewing time is soaring during the pandemic, the need for production equipment will continue to be strong.

One other thing is certain and has been true since the beginning of mankind. Human beings communicate through stories. The technology of how those stories are told constantly changes, but the human need for the story does not. It will always be with us. We must embrace that concept and use it wisely.

During this pandemic, we all need to adjust to new ways of communicating. The way we’ve done it in the past may no longer work. We need to rethink everything, for both the short and long term. It is the best way to survive this crisis.

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Frank Beacham is a multimedia storyteller working in words and images. He has been a journalist for many publications in the media and entertainment industry and also worked as a producer, videographer, and photographer