I'm always on the lookout for interesting products and new developments in B2B editorial. And as regular readers of this blog know, I've found the pickings pretty slim of late.
But the news today about Reuters Insider reminded me that I did come across something awhile back that I found encouraging.
First, the background:
For anyone who hasn't seen the announcement, Thomson Reuters said today it was adding a video service to its subscription-based desktop products. The new service, dubbed Reuters Insider, offers business-news programming across industry verticals. Rather than try to compete on broad business news with the likes of CNBC, the new Reuters Insider is more like a slew of B2B niche TV newscasts. Check out the New York Times' take here. Or read the Wall Street Journal's piece here.Reuters Insider is set up to allow outside contributors to post videos to the service. Some fast-moving companies have already signed up, including Beet.TV.
So what does this mean for the average B2B publisher and editor?
More than you might think.
Consider, if you will, the typical B2B company's experience with video. I think we can all safely agree that much of the video produced by B2B brands in recent years has been poor. Some has been downright abysmal.
In fact, if the recent ASBPE/Northwestern University poll of B2B editors showed nothing else, it showed that our industry is not at the fore of visual journalism (more than half of B2B editors surveyed had never done any online audio/video work ... probably because editors in the survey ranked "recording, shooting, or editing audio and/or video" as the second-least important skill for achieving success in their jobs ... trailing only "mining online databases.")B2B editors' lack of experience and interest in video -- as well as a shortage of talent (what video-savvy journalist would consider working at a B2B publisher?) and training (the median amount of training that a B2B editor received in 2009 was less than a half-day, according to the ASBPE survey) -- leaves the typical B2B brand with just a few options.
1. "Encourage" video skills. Through a combination of compensation changes, rewording of job descriptions, etc., it's possible to force editors to develop an interest in video.
Of course, being forced to learn video doesn't mean that you're forced to do it well. Which brings us to ...
2. Invest in training. But if there's one thing that everyone can agree on, it's this: there ain't much money in B2B these days for training. Besides, if you could get the folks who offer newsroom training to be honest about results, you'd find that turning talented writers into talented video journalists remains a largely impossible task. Which brings us to ...
3. Look elsewhere. Whether it's focusing your recruiting efforts on one or two of the best multimedia-journalism schools or contracting with an outside provider, it seems that B2B publishers are most likely to get good video by heading outside their own newsrooms.
Which brings me to a little company called WorkerBeeTV.First, for the suspicious among you, let me assure you that I have no business relationship with WorkerBee. I just like the company. One of my clients uses their services. And I've found those services to be pretty impressive.Take a look at WorkerBee's site here.Or, even better, check out some of their newscasts. Here's one in the fruit and vegetable industry. Here's one in the hairdressing industry.What you'll see is that WorkerBee has created a simple, branded product that can let even the smallest B2B publisher move into video production. It's really pretty simple. Existing staffers work with WorkerBee's team to rewrite news stories into news scripts. WorkerBee does everything else -- shooting, editing, producing, etc. WorkerBee staffers act as the hosts of the shows. If a B2B brand already has video (either news footage from in-house editorial or "B-roll" from advertisers), it can be added to the show. If not, no problem. If you're still struggling to get quality video on your brand's site, you could do much worse than to contact WorkerBee.The video product you get may not be of the same quality as Reuters Insider ... but that's the price you pay for not working at a company with thousands of Nokia-toting, 'mojo" reporters scattered around the globe.