Using Employees vs. Professional Actors in Your Corporate Video

For many organizations, there’s a burning question among stakeholders regarding corporate videos: Should we use employees or hire professional actors for the video?

At a high-level it seems like such a simple question. But there are pros and cons on either side. Typically, budget drives the final decision, and it’s easy to conclude that using employees saves money. But sometimes that’s true, and sometimes it isn’t. Here’s a breakdown of a few factors you should include in your decision process.

Pros of Using Employees

Using employees is great when you need to put a face on your brand. The brand is not just a logo or a trademark; it’s the personality of the company. By using company associates – in their real-life roles – you can add natural credibility and authenticity to your video. This can be more difficult to create with professional talent. Also, using real-life testimonials in corporate video productions introduces viewers to the workforce behind the business – which serves as a powerful form of storytelling and brand awareness.

Cons of Using Employees

Not all employees are confident appearing on camera. Even the ones you think are a “natural” or “will be great!” And that’s not their fault. They just aren’t professional actors. Often times, twice the amount of employee involvement is needed to achieve the desired goals of the video project. This is because they require more time to hit their stride, or get comfortable on camera.

Pros of Using Professional Talent

Professional talent allows you to select the right “look” for your company. By conducting auditions, you can identify the person that meets the needs for your project. Professional talent provides a confident on-camera presence, has the ability to take direction and possesses experience to help build a company’s brand. Another thing to consider – if the on-camera delivery has heavy dialogue with prepared lines, then professional talent is the clear choice. Flubbed lines and excessive re-takes can increase costs by lengthening the shoot and requiring additional editing – and even then, the end product may result in a sub-par performance that depreciates the quality of the video. Lastly, professional talent provides longevity to the video production by eliminating any concern for employee turnover (limiting how long the video is used).

Cons of Using Professional Talent

There are a few drawbacks to consider when using professional talent. They aren’t familiar with your company or its processes, so they might not be comfortable delivering complex dialogue, or may not be comfortable with technical terms. It’s a good idea to have a subject matter expert on site during filming to help mitigate any mispronunciations. And obviously, cost is a concern. Volunteer employees are, as their name implies, less expensive than professional talent – regardless of whether you use union or non-union talent. But we’ll save the union vs. non-union conversation for a follow-up blog.

Conclusion

Bottom line, there are many situations where employees have the edge for credible on-camera delivery for a tight budget. But in some instances, investing in professional talent may be the best financial choice – for reasons that go beyond just the initial shoot costs. With careful pre-production and solid direction during the shoot, good talent – amateur or professional – will deliver great results.

Resources

Creating a video doesn't have to be complicated. Here are a few resources to help you along the way.

  • New to Video?

    A first timer's guide to
    producing video.

    Get the Book
  • How Much is
    a Video Worth?

    A complete guide to
    calculating the ROI of video.

    Get the Book
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