Press Play | Episode 13: Bad Company Culture Videos
Episode 13: Bad Company Culture
Ben and Justin finish up on this month’s “Press Play” topic of Company Culture Videos by looking at two bad examples.
The key elements that are discussed are:
Ben’s Example: “HubSpot Culture” – HubSpot
Justin’s Example: “Working At Dropbox” – Dropbox
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00:04 Ben: Well, hey, y’all. Welcome to another episode of Press Play where we take a look at the best and then worst video marketing content out there. I’m Ben, that there is Justin. Today, we’re gonna be taking a look at a couple bad examples of company culture videos. Justin, you wanna tell ’em what are the key elements of a company culture video?
00:22 Justin: Of a good video?
00:24 Ben: A good one, yeah.
00:25 Justin: Yeah. So on the last episode, we realized that it all pushed into one big ball of truth.
00:33 Ben: Synonyms.
00:34 Justin: Some synonyms, yeah.
00:35 Ben: Okay, yeah. But truth is a good synonym.
00:39 Justin: Yes.
00:39 Ben: Okay. Alright.
00:40 Justin: So honesty is first, and the way we define that is, it’s gotta have a who you are, a why you are mission, a purpose. Give me some of those feels. Second, it’s gotta have authenticity, right?
00:58 Ben: Alright.
01:00 Justin: Don’t set out to create your culture by creating a video. Know that you have a culture.
01:09 Ben: Or don’t.
01:09 Justin: If you just got acquired and you need to hire 70 people in the next year, don’t make a culture video where there is no culture just so you could hire people. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
01:26 Ben: It’s okay to have a shitty company culture. Don’t try to package it into something it isn’t.
01:31 Justin: Yeah, ’cause then people show up and it just doesn’t work out that way. Third is real. Show, don’t tell. Just let it unfold and be a little bit more organic.
01:46 Ben: Mm-hmm. Let it be instead of… Let it be evident as opposed to just…
01:50 Justin: Instead of writing a script for it.
01:51 Ben: Yeah, got it. Okay. And the fourth?
01:53 Justin: And fourth, be genuine. Don’t force it. Kinda relates back to all of ’em. Like I said, they’re a big ball of…
02:02 Ben: Truth and honesty and goodness.
02:04 Justin: Yes.
02:05 Ben: Alright. So a quick disclaimer on the bad episodes. These are not necessarily bad videos. Sometimes they’re really good videos.
02:11 Justin: Oh, man. The one I brought is really well done.
02:14 Ben: The one I brought is also really well done, it’s just not a company culture video. So it’s not gonna hit on some of these points. And that’s why we’ve chosen to show them as bad examples of company culture videos. So with that in mind, mine is largely predicated on the fact by the name of the video and then how much they dive in in the description on YouTube and really double down. It’s called HubSpot Culture by HubSpot. Well, let’s see.
02:43 Justin: Okay, let’s have a look.
02:44 Ben: Let’s press play.
06:11 Justin: You miscounted.
06:12 Ben: Yes. So a good video. Right?
06:16 Justin: Yeah.
06:16 Ben: And entertaining at times, even funny at times, some of them missed, but some of them were genuinely funny.
06:22 Justin: Yeah, I really liked the ending. That was funny. I wish I had thought of that in other videos.
06:26 Ben: Yeah, yeah, it was a really fun recruiting video but by no means was it a company culture video. Right?
06:31 Justin: Mm-mm.
06:34 Ben: So part of my argument is… Largely, my argument is based on the fact that they themselves call it HubSpot culture.
06:41 Justin: Yes, it’s mislabeled.
06:43 Ben: And in the description, they really double down on that and I don’t remember the exact wording but they doubled down on that… The culture of HubSpot or whatever. And that’s not what it was. It was perks of working here, it was a little bit of the background of the company. And all that is fine for recruiting videos, it just gave me no indication about what the culture was actually like there, maybe fun and funny because that’s what the video ended up being.
07:17 Justin: So yeah, we talked about this. Elements of your company culture should permeate throughout your entire video library through all of your copy, through everything. Every moment that you have to connect with somebody whether it’s a phone call, a blog post, a video, whatever, your culture needs to be evident. And whether it’s just a little, little, little sample of it, it’s your voice or whatever and so you get that a little bit from HubSpot in this video. There’s the extent to which you understand the culture of this company throughout the video.
07:51 Ben: Right. Right. I don’t wanna skip ahead too much, but they neither showed nor told what their culture was. Right?
08:00 Justin: Right.
08:00 Ben: So let’s just skip ahead and put a “Yes” on number three.
08:03 Justin: Yeah, yeah. Can we go ahead put three up? I don’t like the look he’s… [chuckle]
08:10 Ben: Okay, well, we’ll get to that in due time.
08:12 Justin: Yeah. Yup.
08:13 Ben: We’ll keep it all in order.
08:14 Justin: Number one.
08:15 Ben: Honesty. Who we are, why we do this mission purpose, they…
08:22 Justin: They did state their mission…
08:23 Ben: They stated their mission, but that’s as close as they get, it was…
08:25 Justin: I don’t know that I can recall what it was ’cause it wasn’t a part of the entire message.
08:29 Ben: No, it was… And I don’t even know that it was their mission statement, I think it was the two founders’ mission was to create a fill in the blank, whatever it was. Something about inbound.
08:38 Justin: Yep.
08:42 Ben: None of it came from a place of, “This is who we are, check this out.” It all felt too packaged and polished. And I’m just gonna say no on honesty.
08:55 Justin: Yeah, yeah. What about authenticity?
09:00 Ben: When you look at it under the realm of culture first, the video second, I can’t say that they use the video necessarily to create their culture.
09:09 Justin: No.
09:09 Ben: But I don’t know that I get a sense of what their culture actually is, so it’s like a null set. I can’t define it because I don’t really know what the culture is. I’m sure they have. HubSpot’s a pretty impressive company.
09:22 Justin: Yeah.
09:23 Ben: They probably have a really well-established culture.
09:24 Justin: We are a year long customer. We pay to use HubSpot.
09:29 Ben: Right. And they earned that business. Certainly.
09:30 Justin: Right. They’re good. They’re a great company.
09:32 Ben: They’ve probably got a great culture. I don’t know that I could identify what it is based on the HubSpot culture video though, so no.
09:44 Justin: No. No.
09:45 Ben: No.
09:46 Justin: It wasn’t a culture first, video second. It was imposing something…
09:50 Ben: It was a video that just ended up not touching on culture.
09:56 Justin: Yeah, exactly.
09:56 Ben: Yeah. Anyway, who knows? Maybe it was in an earlier version of the script or it ended up on the editing room floor or whatever and they just left in the funny parts. Maybe it was five or six minute long video that had something at the core of it that ended up not being in there but that’s also a mistake, so still a “no.”
10:15 Justin: Show, don’t tell. Or being real.
10:15 Ben: Yeah, being real, as we’ve already addressed, but may or may not have actually put in the edit. They neither showed nor told anything about their culture. They told you what the perks of working there were.
10:31 Justin: Yes.
10:32 Ben: Right? That works relatively well as a recruiting video.
10:37 Justin: It’s a brochure.
10:38 Ben: Yes.
10:39 Justin: It is entirely a brochure of the things you get by working here. You get a gym that has their fancy stitching embroidered on the leather. That’s cool. You get unlimited vacation. Cool.
10:53 Ben: Sure. You get the ebooks automatically put on your Kindle.
10:57 Justin: Yeah. I blanked out during that part.
11:01 Ben: No, it was there.
11:02 Justin: Okay.
11:04 Ben: Yeah. It was right before…
11:05 Justin: I don’t care.
11:06 Ben: The part where you’re like, “Oh, there’s more to this video.”
11:10 Justin: Yes. Okay.
11:12 Ben: Okay, so that’s a “no.” Number four, don’t force it.
11:19 Justin: This is a good example of forcing it.
11:21 Ben: Yes. Yes.
11:21 Justin: They crow barred that shit right in into the video. [chuckle]
11:25 Ben: Yes. Yes. And it wasn’t necessarily disingenuous, it wasn’t not well-executed, it was just that they tried to polish it too much. They tried to deliver it, right? It was a brochure, like you said. They tried to control the message too much. You said something in some of our discussions about how a production company when they’re asked to do a culture video for a company like that’s the last time the company has an opportunity to dictate anything. Right?
12:00 Justin: I mean, ideally, right?
12:00 Ben: Right. The production company ideally would be able to observe what their culture is and then craft a video, this was not that. This was, “Hey, let’s do this stuff and let’s put it in this interesting stylized package.
12:14 Justin: Wrapper, yeah.
12:16 Ben: That again was well-executed technically and creatively, it just wasn’t cultural at all. I think that’s four nos on this one.
12:26 Justin: To our point earlier, yeah, I get a feel for maybe what their culture is but I didn’t get an authentic feel from an actual employee ’cause this is very much a recruiting video. They mislabeled it as a culture video but it is a recruiting video specifically ’cause there’s that brochure absent of culture, why people work here.
12:52 Ben: And I will admit if we’d used this in our recruiting video episode, I think it totally could have worked as a good recruiting video.
13:02 Justin: Yeah.
13:03 Ben: That’s the point we’re trying to drive home here is that a company culture video is something specific, and it’s not just, “Hey, you should come work here instead of somewhere else.”
13:14 Justin: Because we give you these things.
13:16 Ben: Right. Yeah. Okay.
13:18 Justin: It’s about the people.
13:19 Ben: Yeah. Enough shitting on HubSpot. What do you have for us?
13:24 Justin: Well, another very well-known company who did a really good job executing a very stylized video.
13:32 Ben: Okay.
13:33 Justin: And I can imagine their production budget was huge on this given the quality of the image, given the what is in that image.
13:43 Ben: Have I seen this?
13:44 Justin: I think we’ve talked about it before.
13:45 Ben: Okay.
13:46 Justin: It’s been on my list of pet peeves, I’m glad to have a chance to bring it up. [chuckle] This is welcome to Dropbox by HubSpot, no… [laughter] By Dropbox.
13:58 Ben: Alright, let’s press play. Oh, yeah, HubSpot.
16:39 Ben: Okay.
16:40 Justin: I know it’s hard for me to put this one on there ’cause I see a lot of reasons on both sides for doing it this way.
16:49 Ben: Yeah, absolutely. Yes.
16:49 Justin: From a production standpoint, I’m thinking it’s a lot easier to get authentic thoughts and feelings from someone if there’s not a camera in their face. How do you get a camera out of your face but still capture that? Audio? So, great. We’ll stick a mic in here and then just talk to people and it’s a lot easier that way, right?
17:11 Ben: Right. You know my pet peeve with talking heads. It’s an interesting way to get around the talking head thing.
17:19 Justin: It’s a fun way.
17:20 Ben: This is actually a video I had on my very short list for good recruiting videos, until I showed it to you as the one I was thinking of, and you blew up at it, and I wanted to avoid confrontation and decided not to show it. [chuckle]
17:32 Justin: I hate talking heads, but…
17:35 Ben: Not the band.
17:36 Justin: No, fuck no.
17:39 Justin: They’re awesome.
17:40 Ben: No, I hate talking heads too. And I think it’s a really clever way to get around that. And to your point too, to get more relaxed answers from people by not putting them on camera, just recording their audio, that’s probably part of it too. It felt to me though… Two big points, and I don’t wanna take these from you, so you can repeat them afterward if you want, but two big points, it felt once they went the Muppet direction they committed to a certain level of polish, right? It was just a little too clever. Even the Jenga game falling over, right?
18:16 Justin: Yeah, it starts to feel manufactured in some way.
18:18 Ben: Yes, it doesn’t feel real or genuine or honest or authentic.
18:26 Justin: Yeah, that was… The Jenga moment is what tipped it for me.
18:29 Ben: Okay.
18:29 Justin: That was all in post unless there was something sitting next to her that in the actual audio session…
18:36 Ben: I thought I saw an actual wire push it or something.
18:39 Justin: Well, sure, maybe they had to compensate for what was in the audio track.
18:43 Ben: Okay, yeah.
18:44 Justin: But it was really a good clip and they’re like, “Well, how can we make that happen visually?”
18:47 Ben: Yeah. And then the other point too is just like with the HubSpot video, it’s the perks of working there, right? They started talking about the people and you could see how talking about the people it could go to culture ’cause people are fundamental part of culture. Instead, it went from people to the perks of working here, right?
19:10 Justin: Mm-hmm.
19:10 Ben: One guy even said, “I love the gym.” That’s the second one with the gym in it. One guy’s pressing his nose up against the window looking at the baseball stadium across the street, so how awesome is our location, whatever. It just felt, for me, like it got too recruiting-y.
19:25 Justin: Oh, yes, I didn’t even get there. Because they lost me when I couldn’t make a connection with a person. And even though it was a void, like this thing could’ve been completely audio and B-Roll, and I might have connected with it better.
19:41 Ben: Right.
19:41 Justin: Which is tough for me to say ’cause I hate talking head videos, but I realized with this that that connection to who that person is ’cause that’s where you lose authenticity is you lose the face of that person.
19:55 Ben: Right, yeah.
19:56 Justin: So let’s go through these.
19:58 Ben: Alright. So honesty, who, why, mission, purpose. Is any of that in there?
20:04 Justin: A little bit. There was a girl who mentioned she runs into people who say, “I love what you build.” And that’s a rewarding aspect.
20:15 Ben: Right.
20:16 Justin: But I think that that’s… Honestly, that is one of 25 audio clips that I actually heard because I checked out. I checked out so early and I didn’t connect…
20:31 Ben: And it certainly doesn’t match up against having a band studio and a gym and the location in it, all that other stuff that they did cram down your throat, that one little nice human emotional element was just lost.
20:46 Justin: And yeah, exactly. You get lost because I didn’t even realize that band studio is a part of their company, I felt like it was just a scene from the Muppets. I didn’t even realize that was a real thing at the company until you just mentioned it.
21:05 Ben: Yeah.
21:06 Justin: Even though we talked about it off camera.
21:07 Ben: Yes. Yeah.
21:08 Justin: Wow. Okay.
21:11 Ben: Interesting.
21:12 Justin: So no check mark there.
21:14 Ben: So no on honesty. Authenticity, culture first, video second.
21:19 Justin: I’m gonna say Dropbox has a culture. They’re in a cool city with cool people and it’s not like those people actually have real thoughts and feelings about where they work.
21:29 Ben: Right.
21:30 Justin: I just didn’t connect to it.
21:31 Ben: Right. Right. No, and those did feel like actual people’s actual thoughts and feelings.
21:38 Justin: Yes. Actual employees, they felt like actual employees, so I’m gonna give a checkmark here and let them get away with that.
21:46 Ben: Okay. Show, don’t tell. That whole real aspect.
21:53 Justin: No.
21:53 Ben: No?
21:54 Justin: At all. If there was a one to 10 scale, it’s zero.
22:00 Ben: Yeah, or like they had the opportunity to, but then they showed up here. They’re like, “Hey, look up here, we’re doing this clever thing, or whatever.”
22:07 Justin: Yeah.
22:08 Ben: Again, it ended up being what was initially I think a very clever idea, ended up being distracting and taking away from me.
22:16 Justin: I almost feel like if they even put the subject of those interviews as a Muppet into a situation where there were real people behind it, I feel like you could connect to that office space a little bit more, but because it was just a Muppet looking out a window at a gorgeous view, I felt like it wasn’t real.
22:41 Ben: Yeah, that’s interesting. Genuine, not forcing it.
22:45 Justin: This is an example of forcing it.
22:47 Ben: Yeah.
22:48 Justin: You take out reality and put in your own reality, your own view of what you think is beautiful about this company.
22:57 Ben: And when this type of video needs to be so authentic and real and honest. That’s why we keep using those words, it all comes back to that. It needs to be legit. The technical or creative thing that they did, the hook for this piece kept it from being that because it kept you from being able to connect.
23:22 Justin: At first, it was like, “Oh, cool, fun,” but then I just thought about Muppets.
23:28 Ben: I can totally see how brainstorming this idea, even if you were talking yourself out of it, you’d be like, I can’t not pitch this to the client.
23:39 Justin: Yeah.
23:39 Ben: Right? Like this is, it’s such a cool head, right?
23:41 Justin: It’s like a different way to do talking heads, like it’s fun.
23:43 Ben: But save it for the right video. Don’t just do it in the next video.
23:47 Justin: Right.
23:48 Ben: Right? So there’s two bad examples of company culture videos. Again, really good videos in themselves, like really good recruiting videos, just not company culture because they lack those human authentic moments that allow you to connect with what a company is about. So we’ll see you next time on Press Play.
24:09 Ben: You doin’ the eyebrow thing?
24:12 Justin: Oh, yeah.
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