I remember the first time I saw my then-NBC colleague David Ushery appear on TV without a tie. It was almost three years ago on the wonderful weekly program “Debrief.” That was a culture shock. “Why do we need to wear suits and ties to speak with viewers who aren’t dressed that way at home?” David explained then. He was ahead of an industry that’s catching up.
At a session of the recent Media Summit in NYC, not one of more than a hundred men in the room – including four panelists and a moderator, three of them digital media company CEOs – was wearing a tie. I normally don’t anymore either, either on camera or in meetings, something of a surprise to those who’ve watched me deliver the news over the years. When I did put on a tie to attend an event this spring, another participant pointed to the paisley and asked “why?” (I presume he meant the tie and not the pattern). But there’s something bigger going on. The relaxation of business dress codes, outside of banking and legal circles, coincides with a shifting connection of consumers to video. Almost nobody makes appointments to watch anything on small screens anymore, except major live events. And they watch programs, including those produced by our Company, wherever they happen to be. Zazoom creates video for viewing on phones, tablets, laptops, desktops; programs that are platform-agnostic allow the audience to pick the time and place of viewing.
What does that mean? Limited use of moving images, for a start. Moving pictures aren’t nearly as appealing on small screens as still photos. There’s also no added informational value derived from video, unless it’s essential to telling the story. Usually it’s not. Background audio is also of limited value because the audience is generally watching in places with all manner of distracting overriding sounds. What viewers do absorb is basic narration. So what’s critical is that the report add something to the headline to make it worth viewers’ time. A twist, an opinion, sassiness…that’s what people will click for and come back for again and again. It’s a model that’s helped explode our content views. At a time when people are increasingly engaging on 2-3 screens simultaneously (the “relaxed” part of the digital world is the ability to watch anytime, anywhere), companies succeeding best are the ones that deliver unique programs created for the places and platforms of their audience’s choosing.