A Cautionary PR/Marketing Video

Okay, I typically hate critiquing other videos, but this one represents a terrific cautionary tale.

A Southwest Airlines video about the company taking part in Meals On Wheels popped-up last week on my Facebook wall. I love that Southwest participates in giving back to the community. I love that they want to share it with us in a video. The execution… not so good.

First, the Facebook text above the video read…

A sea of blue t-shirts made up of 500 Southwest Airlines Employees just wrapped up delivering more than 1,800 meals in this year’s Meals On Wheels Association of America blitz to serve Dallas families.

Then you click on the video and the first on-screen graphic reads, “June 8, 2010.” Read the Facebook text again. They “just wrapped up”… “this year’s Meals On Wheels.”

The next on-screen graphic reads, “400 Southwest Employees.” Back to the Facebook text, “500 Southwest Airlines Employees.”

Seriously? If you’re going to show us last year’s video, just tell us it’s last year’s video. Don’t use the text to make it sound like it’s from this year.

Next, the sound bite they chose is extremely confusing. Who is the speaker addressing? I assume it’s the Southwest employees making the deliveries.

Also, the on-screen title threw me off. It reads, “Brit Carpenter, President & CEO Visiting Nurse Association,” but he’s standing in front of Southwest banner. By the time I looked at him, the banner, and then the on-screen title, the title was already coming down. All I caught was President & CEO.

I assumed he was the Southwest Airlines president, but then what he said in the sound bite didn’t make sense. I had to re-watch the sound bite a few times before I figured out he leads the Visiting Nurse Association, which I imagine is associated with Meals On Wheels, but that isn’t explained later.

Why do I point this out? It’s a great example of why business leaders need to hire storytellers. I can only imagine that this video was put together by someone at Southwest who has technical expertise, but not a storytelling background.

If you’re going to create a video and share it with the world, make sure you’re telling a story that people will understand. The video will only help your organization if the audience walks away feeling good about your company… not confused.

–Tony Gnau

VIDEO: Southwest Airlines and Meals On Wheels