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June 27, 2008

ASAE launches "vodcast" series: What's right and some constructive criticism

ASAE & The Center launched a new series of "vodcasts" called This Week in Associations earlier, uh, this week. Here's an examination of what's right and what's in need of further review with the implementation, from my personal point of view.

Right:

  1. High coolness factor. Online video is hot. It got my attention (and my link). People have too much to read. Why not do video?
  2. Relevant content. First episode focuses on voluntarism, a problematic issue many associations are facing.
  3. Cross-selling. ASAE is promoting a new book, "The Decision to Volunteer" on this topic that should be useful for association execs (by the way, in the coming weeks, watch for a sneak preview of this book before it debuts right here on the Certified Association Executive blog).
  4. Flash-based player with e-mail to a friend and grab the link features. Love it.
  5. The length is perfect. Less than five minutes. You nailed it, ASAE.
Missed the mark:
  1. What the heck is a "vodcast"? I've heard of a podcast, a video podcast, and even a vidcast, but "vodcast"? The cast part implies that it should be downloadable and viewable on an iPod, but this isn't. Why not just call it This Week in Associations and be done with it?
  2. Overproduced. I realize ASAE is probably getting video production and video hosting for cheap or even free, but this video is to overproduced what saccharine is to sweeteners. From the green screen background to the post production and animated titles, it's just too much. Take a page from Robert Scoble's playbook: lose the style, deliver the substance. As a member of mine says, "One person says that video sucks. Another one says it's organic." Finding the right balance ain't easy.
  3. The actress is... I'm sorry. I shan't say more about her. Use a staff person for this role. Certainly someone on the staff of ASAE is at the same time photogenic, knowledgeable about associations and does not pronounce it "assosheeashuns." Oh, man, there are so many jokes I'd like to make about this. But I shan't.
  4. Embedding option: MIA. I would have loved to embed the video here or at PITV. It's not like anyone could mistake this video for being produced by anyone other than ASAE. This is an option that's being suppressed by whoever's in control of the program. Clearly the editorial staff at ASAE has the code required to embed the video at Acronym.
All in all, a net positive, but a few things left to tweak. Way to try something new!

Tagged: ; ; ;

4 comments:

Matt Baehr said...

My 2 cents. Vodcast is ok. I have heard it used before, but yes you would assume you can download it to your video ipod.

You hit the nail on the head with the positives.

I agree with the negatives too. Some production is fine, but don't overdo it. However, as the association for associations, I can see their need to try to make it the best of the best.

The interview format bugged me a little, because it was too staged. The interviewer just threw prompts at her, not questions. The content was good, just presented weird. And be careful of the fine line between content and commercial. I know my members always hound me about that.

Overall, good work ASAE.

Maddie Grant said...

OMG. Just watched the video. Hated it. HATED IT. And this is coming from me! I like everyone and everything! First of all - what's with the actress/interviewer with the freakish Stepford-looking smiling? Who couldn't pronounce the word "associations"? It felt like an infomercial. I was so distracted by her, I couldn't concentrate on what the author was saying. It came across as totally fake - like someone said, OK we have to do a video because that is "in", it has to be short, it has to be marketed via the ASAE's blog. So why did it come across as so inauthentic? Maybe it was the "newscast interview" format - that made no sense without someone specific and well-known (or someone representing a news channel) doing the interviewing. These people worked so hard on the study (presumably) - I wanted them to speak directly to me (the viewer) about it. Tell me directly, by looking straight at the camera, what is important about it! Let me see your enthusiasm and your passion for the project! She looked totally uncomfortable.

Having it in three parts is fine - maybe the rest will be better (I hope!). But I thought, I'd rather have ten minutes of real passion and substantive content than 3 minutes of infomercial. My attention span is short, but if something feels like I'm being sold something, it will be much shorter than 3 minutes.

As a producer of PITV, I look at hundreds of videos. Those I pick are of varied content, style and format, but I think you can agree they are always genuine. They are all of people or by people who really care what they are talking about, whether it's a snippet of a keynote presentation or a cartoony video. I'm sorry to be so harsh. But it was just horrible. And I'm furious because Brightcove videos always make my computer freeze. Why not use Seesmic, where you can add comments? Or just keep it simple and Youtube it so it can spread virally? I'll shut up now. Sorry!

Scott Briscoe said...

Ben & commenters - appreciate your feedback. Wanted to make one note - the host, Amy Goodman, is a journalist and experienced host, something we wanted as we didn't just want to interview people we knew would be comfortable in front of a camera. The way Amy has taken the subject matter for the first six segments and digested it has been nothing short of amazing to me. And she has been an excellent, calming influence on our guests.

Also wanted to note that eventually we'll archive these in a downloadable format. When they're initially released, we're sticking with the Bright Cove player. And Ben, I'll look into what it would mean to get the embed code to you and other bloggers.

Again, thanks for all the feedback!

Andrew Prazuch/Seattle said...

I'm jealous, wish I had the technological capacity at my assn to pull something like this off. That said, while it did inspire me to think about this kind of technology for the future, it definitely seemed way too polished. I kept waiting for the interruption during the interview "to call in the next 20 minutes to receive free shipping" or for the audience to ooh and ahh with each discovery announced....