How To Make Your CEO More Video Savvy

Liz Guthridge photo low res - CopyWhen Dean Scarborough travels, there’s one thing he never leaves at home—his iPhone. And that’s not because he’s worried he’ll miss a phone call. He needs his phone to shoot footage for his internal video blog, which allows him, the chairman, president and CEO of global manufacturing company Avery Dennison to engage with employees in an entirely new way.

Thanks to the new video series, “Dean’s Download,” Avery Dennison employees hear from their CEO first-hand, and in near real time, about everything from customer visits and trade shows to the company’s most important business initiatives.

A new reel. Dean’s video posts, available on the company portal, are under three minutes long and designed to educate, inspire and express appreciation for Avery Dennison’s global team. Each piece highlights the latest innovation or opportunity for the business he’s visiting; team accomplishments that he’s particularly proud of and what’s next in sales, operations, or even strategy, for example.

“We’re in the business of solving customers’ problems. And the more of our 26,000 employees who we can bring into the conversation, the stronger our solutions will be,” Scarborough said. Recently, Dean’s video blog has featured the Labelexpo trade show in Brussels, Belgium; the Amazon Rainforest in Uaxactun, Guatemala and rice paddies in Yangzhou, China.

“We’ve gone from formal quarterly email messages and Town Halls to more frequent video blogs, discussion threads, employee socials and tweets from our CEO,” said Heather Rim, Avery Dennison’s VP of global corporate communications.

After getting Dean’s video and photos, the corporate communications team may shoot additional footage to help tell the story. As needed, the team engages an external partner to do minimal editing. The result: a quickly produced clip that costs a fraction of a traditional corporate video.

Being ‘In the know.’ According to Rim, employees who are located in more than 50 countries are now more “in the know” about the company’s most important initiatives, and more familiar with Dean. “When they bump into Dean at their site, they’re far more likely to approach him and ask a question about the business, because they’ve already been part of the virtual conversation,” she said.

Rim and her team helped the CEO design the video blog concept as an outcome of a “Beat” Mission.

The “Beat” is a volunteer opportunity introduced in 2012 to Avery Dennison’s wired employees as a way to provide feedback and ideas to company leaders on key business issues. The goals were to gather insights from more diverse voices and develop a more open communication culture.

For one of the Missions, the CEO asked “How can I be a more effective communicator?” Interested Beat ambassadors answered: “Be more visible.”

Video blogs, with their ease and speed, seemed the best solution, not just for the CEO but also the global corporate communications team. And since starting the video blogs, the CEO also is meeting more frequently with employees when he travels.

Behind the scenes, the seven-member global corporate communications team has changed the way it operates to support Dean’s Downloads, The Beat, the CEO employee visits and other programs that are helping reshape the Avery Dennison culture.

The team adheres to these five principles:

1. Shift our mindset and our actions. We’re enablers, not creators. Employees are our storytellers. It’s our job to help them tell their stories.

2. Focus on simple-to-use tools and infrastructure. We invite employees to join the conversation, including showing them how to use the tools.

3. Make it easy for people to join the conversation. We’re creating a movement, not a moment, for employees to take part in conversations.

4. Choose speed over perfection. We want to encourage real-time, authentic conversations; we are not gatekeepers.

5. Jump in and embrace the new way of working. We are now champions of helping employees be brand ambassadors. We’re on a new path, and we’re not looking back.

“We’re helping our employees engage in a new way of working and communicating,” Rim said. “We certainly don’t have all the answers, but we’re learning and course correcting as we go, and having a blast along the way.” PRN


Liz Guthridge is the managing director of Connect Consulting Group. She can be reached at liz.guthridge@

This article originally appeared in the January 20, 2014 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.