Meet the Expert
President, Jon Dann Communications
- 30-year TV news career, including staff producer for NBC’s "Dateline," encompassing new delivery platforms for digital storytelling.
- Recipient of three Peabody Awards, three duPont-Columbia Awards, and a Certificate of Special Merit from the Academy Awards.
- Won his third duPont-Columbia Award for producing the PBS special "War Stories from Ward #7D," which followed the struggles of Iraq War veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury. In 2011, he was a finalist for a Gerald Loeb Award for financial reporting.
- Produced the highest-rated program in CNBC history, "Marijuana Inc: Inside America’s Pot Industry." Hour-long documentary has aired more than 100 times and was nominated for a national Emmy.
- Other productions include "Tom Brokaw Reports: Boomer$!," two-hour documentary on the legacy and challenges of the baby boom generation, reported by NBC Senior Correspondent Tom Brokaw, with whom Dann collaborated for nearly a year as program creator and senior producer.
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President, Jon Dann Communications
- Companies often have difficulty articulating their own story.
- Many companies are uncertain what it is that really makes them unique. They're not sure exactly how to tell their story. Often, they're just too caught up in the day-to-day details and too close to their own reality to see their story clearly. It's not always easy for companies to articulate what they do in a way that everyone can easily understand. If their specialty is solving complicated problems for sophisticated clients, the challenge can be particularly difficult. Part of the process of producing a successful video is bringing fresh eyes to translate a complex story into a simple, engaging video.
- It's hard to determine the return on investment of a video.
- It's not always easy to see a specific or instant payback from the money invested in a video. It's more like corporate communications or PR. It's about connecting with potential employees, clients and investors in a positive and memorable way. While the gains are not as easily measured, there are ways to get all-important feedback on ROI. A recruiting video for XOMA (a mid-level biotech), for instance, was deemed an excellent investment after many of the company's new employees mentioned how much they liked it. It had done its job by helping them decide to work there – resulting in a substantial financial reward for XOMA.
- Many companies are having difficulty transitioning to the digital realm.
- To be taken seriously in virtually any sort of enterprise these days, a website is essential. Most companies are also doing some form of digital marketing. However, many are treating the internet as simply an extension of traditional TV advertising or direct mail. They're developing online content that's basically just the same as a TV ad, print campaign, glorified newsletter, or annual report. They're missing the opportunity to use new media in new ways to generate added impact and appeal that is best suited to the medium.
- Companies lack awareness of what it takes to create a professional video.
- Few mainstream companies are experienced with video production. Most have no idea what to expect and do not have a line item in their budgets for professional video production. Video is often an afterthought. With no money set aside to do it correctly, a company will suddenly realize they need a video and then scramble to find someone to produce something for them as quickly and as cheaply as possible. As with anything else, however, quality matters, and you get what you pay for. In the video realm, it's very hard to "wing it" with any success. A polished video can be a big asset, but one that's just thrown together can be a waste of time and money – doing more harm than good.
- Executives are often uncomfortable on camera.
- Unless executives have been trained as actors, the chances are they won't feel at ease with a camera pointed at them. Even the most outgoing and confident executives can feel pretty uncomfortable on camera. Most have no clear understanding of what it takes to do a good job. If they're working with an inexperienced production team, the process can be frustrating and the results can be embarrassing. For a seasoned filmmaker, a crucial part of the job is establishing trust and access, in order to guide the participants through the process and achieve a polished and compelling on-camera result.
Digital Storytelling: Common Problems