THIS ISN'T A TECHNICAL REVOLUTION.
IT'S A REVOLUTION OF INCLUSION.
What was once an experiment for the technically adventurous is quickly becoming business as usual. Every week we're streaming another executive message, town hall, annual sales meeting or new product introduction for our clients. We're entering the age of telepresence one quarterly update at a time.
Why the shift now? A convergence of sorts. Over the past year, streaming has become much more reliable, affordable and "broadcast" in quality. At the same time, corporate America sees more clearly the direct link between timely communication and employee engagement. And in turn between engaged understanding and business results.
As a result, streaming is starting to pay real dividends. Some of those are financial — massive travel savings — and some are strategic — the ability to direct a company around a message far more quickly than before.
Is it hard to pull off effectively? Not if you understand the gotchas and have a good planning guide ...
YOUR PLANNING GUIDE FOR EFFECTIVE STREAMING
1. First, decide whether you want one-way or two-way communication.
The most straightforward events we execute are one-way 'broadcast' messages. Your presenter(s) are on camera in a single location, guided by their PowerPoint/Keynote and any pre-produced video content that adds to their story. We stream these one-way live presentations to the world through a Livestream, Blackmagic box or similar. We elevate the experience by directing it like a TV show: switching between presenters on camera, their deck, their videos and even shots of a live studio audience if there is one.
Viewers access the event any number of ways: via your company website (behind or in front of the firewall), through Facebook Live, YouTube, Twitter, you name it. On their desktop or mobile device.
To make it less one-way, remote participants can ask live questions of the main presenters. You can accept questions via text messaging and live audience polling applications like Pigeonhole Live or Poll Anywhere. About the only thing you can’t do in more straightforward setups is take live questions via a video feed coming from remote participants due to latency issues. That's where this next setup comes in.
To take it to the next level, you may want true two-way audiovisual communication with remote offices, auditoriums or individuals. Using a news metaphor, you want to be able to cut to remote "live reporters" or co-presenters (with TV-network smoothness like when NYC tosses to LA on New Year's Eve, say.)
We can do that too now, without the need for satellite trucks. In this case, we employ Cisco Telepresence Endpoints or WebExHD hardware at the remote sites, depending on how easy it is to integrate remote sites into your existing secure network infrastructure.
As you might imagine, there are cost and effort differences between one-way and two-way setups. We'll present both scenarios side by side to help you determine which is best for you.
Whether you choose one-way or two-way communication, the feed we send out is beautiful and smart. We stream a high-definition image that also happens to be customized to the capacity of any remote and individual connections.
The system senses the throughput capacity of the user’s connection and adjusts the quality of the video feed accordingly. If their connections are strong, the stream plays in pristine HD; if the connection gets clogged for a bit, the stream temporarily adjusts quality to continue to play in real time, just more compressed.
2. Conduct site audits next.
Before anyone commits to anything, we do site audits to make sure the streaming locations have big enough outgoing pipes. Ideally, we want a 10-Mbps dedicated upload connection, unthrottled by additional activity at that location during the hours of the livestream.
If two-way communications are part of the plan, we audit those sites as well.
3. Go with a high-performance main platform and a backup stream.
You'll want a professional-grade platform at the center of the action, one that sends an HD signal out to the world through modern means, namely a strong and smart Content Delivery Network.
As your backup, we often recommend sending the same signal out to platforms that have the advantages of ubiquity and billion-dollar infrastructures. Two out of three streaming events we produce also stream simultaneously through Facebook Live, YouTube and/or the Livestream site itself. In the unlikely event one service goes down, the other is good to go.
We don't limit ourselves to just those platforms, however. Almighty as they are, consumer platforms do not really deliver the professional functionality or reliability our clients need. They may also be blocked by your IT department and they don't always save archives for later viewing.
4. Be smart about security.
Corporate video streams almost always contain confidential information. At a minimum, you need password protection to prevent unauthorized viewing, but you may also want domain restrictions or ‘referrers’ that only allow viewers to log in from a website you select, or geo-restrictions that whitelist viewers only in approved countries or ZIP codes. We can help with all of that.
5. Avoid the block.
To ensure access, you need a streaming platform that will bypass your own content blockers and firewalls. Many public hosting and streaming websites are blocked by corporations, universities, libraries and other institutions. Our service delivers content via a network that’s far less likely to be on anyone’s block list. We work closely with your IT department to ensure access.
6. Test before you go live.
For one of our clients, we posted an event promo video in the two weeks before the event as a surreptitious way to test the company network. It received nearly 10,000 hits. We then knew we would have minimal issues with the 26,000 people who connected live on event day or the 100,000 views that followed later.
7. Maximize your new communication asset.
Since you’ve put all this effort into streaming a livecast, why not make your content available for later viewing? Some public platforms don’t record the content for later viewing. Other platforms play back archived streams at a much lower quality than the original livecast.
We’ll preserve your content for future viewing in HD quality, easily editable into smaller segments or highlight reels. Our on-demand streams play at the same high quality as the original feeds.
8. Demand support and training.
Let's say you have a browser-specific issue or firewall challenge and you need guidance on how to fix it. The problem is, consumer-grade streaming platforms don’t offer any form of technical support. Business users need questions answered now. Before your event, for example, we can distribute guides that advise viewers how to manage their bandwidth — at work and at home — so they’ll get the best-quality streaming through their internet connection.
9. Monetize that content if you want.
Some organizations - direct selling companies, associations and continuing education providers - choose to deliver content on a pay-per-view basis. One of our clients monetized their opening sessions and most popular break-outs, generating more than $11,000 in sales the first week it went live. This is not for everyone, but easily doable for anyone.
10. Approach streaming with the same standards you bring to your live events.
Corporate streaming shouldn't be a do-it-yourself special nor the last-minute responsibility of overworked IT departments. We've seen that movie and it ends with frustrated abandonment most of the time.
Our clients have learned something important out here on the bleeding edge: today's audiences want more than picture-in-picture windows next to dry PowerPoints. They want the same visual experiences they see on TV and are now finally getting with other streaming pioneers like YouTube, ROKU and Hulu.
Mills James was a television and live event production company long before we were a streaming provider. We believe it's important to approach streamed events not as webcasters have been but as show producers would. We advise our clients to think purposefully about the things that have always mattered to audiences: show flow, scripting, talent, camera choice, lighting, audio, graphics, rehearsing.
We now add to that list things like server reliability, encoding quality, geo-blocking and firewall management. But those are not things you should ever have to worry about.
Today’s audiences react to experiences that resonate. Ones that are branded, smooth and impactful. We can help you get closer to that ideal at any price point.
Get started with scalable reliable secure video streaming today.
We'll help you extend your reach, accelerate your messaging and dramatically lower your costs ... whether you need a simple executive communication in hours or a large scale production streamed to thousands of people in a dozen two-way locations.
Tell us more about your next event and we'll help you realize these extraordinary benefits.