The corporate documentary is a growing form of advertising and marketing for businesses in the digital age. A sub-genre of this concept is the corporate history video. Specifically, this type of documentary explores the foundation of your company: how it was started, what made it successful, and how it has changed.
Now, why is having a corporate history video an asset? These videos can be used in multiple situations. It can be utilized as advertising; a step towards transparency in showing where the business has come from. It can also be useful for corporate celebrations or milestones. Showing your company’s history is a great way to engage employees, stakeholders, and consumers.
Researching for a corporate history video can be intimidating, especially if you are a long-running company. Here are a few steps to start gathering information on your history:
- Speak with the founder
- Talk to employees
- Gather video footage
- Utilize archives
Speak with the Founder
Speaking with the company’s founder—if possible—is a fantastic way to gather content for your corporate history video. After all, who knows more about the company than the one who started it? Keep ‘the 5 w’s’ in mind: who is he/she? Why did they start the company? How did they do it? When? Where did the business originate?
Of course, if your corporation has been around for a long time, contacting the founder may not be possible. If this is the case, consider talking to the founder’s descendants. Ask them what they remember about the founder and how the company was important to them.
Talk to Employees
Another great resource is the company’s employees. Seek out the ones who have been around the longest, and ask them questions such as why they have stuck around for so long. How did they get their job? How have things changed?
Gather Video Footage/Other Resources
In terms of gathering video or other resources, your company’s people are key. See if the founder or founder’s family have anything that could be used in your film. This could include home-video, old photographs, archives or advertisements. Ask your employees what they may have in their records. Do they have home-footage or pictures of past business functions: work parties, events, conferences? These all have the potential to be used in your piece.
While you may be wondering why you are gathering personal memorabilia for your corporate history video, keep in mind a company is made up of people, and it is the people that will make your film interesting.
Another possible visual resource could be looking at your company’s physical and digital advertisements. How have they changed over the years? Have you featured anyone famous in your commercials? Have any of your adverts ‘gone viral’?
A further thing to consider that may be interesting to present in your video is your company ethics. Have they changed over the years? Expanded? How have your ethics made an impact on your employees/community? Has your business won any awards because of it?
Utilising archives in your research can expand your potential visuals. AP Archive is an excellent resource for video. The Associated Press is a not-for-profit news cooperative, and their video archive has over 1.7 million video stories dating back to 1895. You will need to purchase a license for any footage you select from here.
The National Archives has also compiled a list of additional resources that can be helpful specifically towards business history research. Results could include old photographs, diaries, maps, and sound and film/video recordings. Many of these are public record and thus is free information.
Researching for your corporate history video is the first but most important step in creating your documentary. Keep the above four steps in mind while compiling your information, and remember, you can never gather too much material—it is far better to have a plethora to choose from than to not have enough.