Video Matters Now More Than Ever

rebeccaThis commentary, written by Indiana Chamber VP Rebecca Patrick, originally appeared on Inside INdiana Business.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, exactly what is a video worth? That’s a question more and more organizations have been asking in the last few years.

We’ve all seen something “go viral” on YouTube and make its way around social media and even the traditional news. And the frequency of business emails with video content continues to rise – and with good reason: Consumer surveys reveal those emails are noticeably more effective.

The list goes on and on about the emergence and power of video messaging, whether it’s used for external marketing or rallying the troops inside your company. The population in general – thanks to continued technology advances – is increasingly more visual in how it wants to receive information.

In 2014, the Indiana Chamber opted to devote space in its office to a video studio. We built it with three types of communications in mind: 1) messages to our 17,000 members and investors; 2) public policy advocacy to a broad, public audience and 3) media-ready footage.

The studio was possible for us – and for other businesses our size – because the equipment prices have come down to meet the demands of the masses who want to film videos for webcasts and more. So a suitable video camera, lighting equipment, teleprompter and accessories for our studio were quite affordable.

But before we made that leap, we did our homework. We talked to member companies in the communications/marketing field and to videographers to make sure our studio would be capable of doing what we wanted.

Over the last 18 months, the Indiana Chamber has produced more than 50 videos – ranging from legislative calls to action and television commentaries to event promotions and membership testimonials.

Tom Easterday, our current chairman of the board of directors who is executive vice president at Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. in Lafayette, believes video messaging is “effective for communicating with a lot of different generations; it can be used as part of social media, as part of your web site and direct communication.”

At Subaru, Easterday films various videos – many for internal use.

“Frequently we will have messages we will need to get out to our associates before it breaks in the press or before the rumor mill starts. We’ve found that having our own in-house closed-circuit television system and utilizing video allows us to get the same message out to all of our associates at the same time. It’s a very valuable communications tool in that regard,” he explains.

“It helps us be more effective in getting associates to understand what is happening, and gets their buy-in and cooperation regarding whatever the next move is we need to make as a company… It’s a very clear message instead of hearing it second or third hand, or via written communication, which may or may not be read.”

Subaru has also used video to maximize the time of its dealers and suppliers. The company produced a five-minute video introduction on the plant when dealers from across the United States were arriving with limited time on their hands. A virtual tour of the facility is also available on the company web site.

Easterday says videos are a welcome option for material that is “very difficult to put into print or would be tedious to read on a web site.”

He also encourages companies to not dismiss video production out of concern over price.

“There are a lot of companies out there that do them so you can shop around, or we have our own internal videographer. That can definitely cut the cost down,” Easterday shares. “But if you shop around and ask the communications companies to provide you samples of their work, they will do that.”

No Easy Answers: Charting the Future of Higher Ed

higher edFor a century, Hoosiers didn’t need a college degree to make a good living. But with the manufacturing-based economy changing dramatically and giving way, in part, to the knowledge-based economy, you can’t make that case anymore.

Amid the backdrop of an increased emphasis on postsecondary education, we turn to three recognized leaders in the higher education community to discuss the current climate and what needs to happen next:

A quick survey of the college landscape reveals some obvious challenges: rising tuition, student debt and getting more students to complete their degree. The latter is the focal point for Jones and his organization.

“We know that completion rates at most colleges in the country don’t exceed 50%. So the freshman class looks very good in terms of numbers and in terms of diversity, but in the graduating class we only have about half of those students there – and we’ve lost a lot of the diversity that we set out to accomplish. So that’s a huge challenge,” he offers.

Read the rest of the BizVoice magazine article. And be sure to check out the NEW July/August edition at www.bizvoicemagazine.com.

Legislative Testimony: Sunday Alcohol Sales

BThe Indiana Chamber’s Cam Carter testified today in support of Sunday liquor sales, but opposition to the amended House Bill 1624 by Rep. Tom Dermody (R-LaPorte).

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce supports the retail sale of alcoholic beverages for carryout on Sunday – for ALL classes of licensed retailers. We believe this would improve Indiana’s business climate and be a big win for consumers who want to see this modest and common sense change to existing law. A law that has remained on the books for far too long. A debate, in our estimation, that has gone on for far too long – and we are not alone in this opinion. Polling shows a growing majority of Hoosiers want this change.

You have the power – and the responsibility – to bring this change about by passing Sunday sales. However, to do so, you must craft a compromise between the liquor stores who have fought this change year after year after year, and other retailers, “big box” or otherwise, who have sought this change for just as long.

We supported the introduced version of HB 1624 and still do. We were encouraged when we heard rumors about a “compromise” on this issue; indeed one media outlet reported that a “compromise” had been reached. We began to rejoice.

But, then we saw the chairman’s amendment and we knew that no such compromise had been reached. Indeed, we were not invited to a negotiation. A negotiation between two liquor stores or their lobbyists is not a compromise.

To have a true compromise, you have to have two sides agree on something. Yet, the two sides on this issue agree on nothing. In fact, their roles have reversed since the introduction of the amendment with liquor stores now quoted in the media as supporting it and historical supporters of Sunday sales opposing it.

Why this sudden role reversal? Sometimes to ask a question is to answer it. So, with all due respect, the amendment under consideration today falls short of being a good faith effort at a workable compromise. It is objectively one-sided with all of the burdens placed on one class of alcohol retailer to their competitive disadvantage. And, that class is every single retailer that is NOT a package liquor store.

Under the amendment, liquor stores change nothing about their business model except they can now open on Sunday, if they choose. Their competitors? They have new, unacceptable regulations placed upon their stores, their personnel, and most importantly their customers.

Anyone with any familiarity with the Sunday sales issue had to know that this amendment would be unacceptable. The cost of retrofitting retail stores alone will run to at least $50-$60 million by conservative estimates and will affect all non-liquor store retailers large or small, big box or mom-and-pop. Some may be unable to comply with the provisions of this amendment at all.

Retrofitting is only the beginning of the economic costs represented by this amendment. Consumers will not stand for turning back the clock some 40-50 years and moving distilled spirits back “behind the counter”; that model of retailing can be seen at the Hook’s Museum and that is rightly where it belongs – in a museum.

Today’s consumers will revolt at being forced by you, elected members of the Indiana General Assembly, to go to “Tony with the name tag” at a separate counter or checkout lane, to then ask for a specific type of alcohol, a specific brand of alcohol and a specific bottle size.

To what end, one may ask, are lawmakers putting me through this when all I want is a little rum to mix with my lime and Coke? And, this new, government-imposed restriction will hassle consumers not just on Sunday, but every single day of the week.

Consumers will be needlessly inconvenienced and they will rebel. Just a couple of years ago they wanted your heads on pikes for carding them if they looked under the age of 40! Remember that? Passed in one session, repealed the next. Total run time: less than a year.

Do you think they will accept the serial inconveniences in this amendment? No, they will not. There will be a backlash, deservedly so, and it won’t be aimed at the businesses selling alcohol.

This is not the commonsense reform that Hoosiers are asking for. It is concierge legislating for the liquor store lobby. No one here is fooled by this so-called “compromise”, and here’s the trick box you’ve placed yourselves in by trying to place advocates of Sunday sales in a similar box:

With talk of a “compromise,” the public now EXPECTS you to deliver on Sunday sales. They’ve been reading about it for months now and, suddenly, a (so-called) compromise is here! The public doesn’t do nuance and they could care less about the machinations inside this building or the welfare of lobbyists, liquor store owners or this or that grocery store chain.

All they want is to be able to conveniently buy alcohol on Sunday like residents of other states do. It is not an unreasonable expectation. But, this is an unreasonable amendment that places unreasonable burdens on consumers.

With that, I’ll conclude the Indiana Chamber’s support of Sunday sales but opposition to the bill as amended.

Legislative Testimony: State Board of Education Governance

The Indiana Chamber’s Caryl Auslander testified today in support of Senate Bill 1 – State Board of Education Governance, authored by Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Markle).

While the Chamber prefers to have the Governor appoint the Superintendent of Public Instruction, allowing the State Board of Education to appoint its own chair is a step in the right direction and will allow for a more seamless way for education policy to be enacted.

However, the Chamber believes that the Governor should be allowed to control the appointment process for State Board members as a right of the executive branch leader (as opposed to having the Indiana House Speaker and Senate Pro Tem make several selections, which SB 1 proposes).

Legislative Testimony: Annual Mega Department of Revenue Bill

The Indiana Chamber’s Bill Waltz testified today on Senate Bill 438 – State and Local Tax Issuesauthored by Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek). The Chamber supports various provisions and the general intent of this Department of Revenue bill, but also opposes other aspects at this time.

The Chamber generally supports the effort in this bill to clarify a number issues and ease administrative burdens for both the Department of Revenue and taxpayers. However, there are several new provisions that still need work in order to be confident that the language will fulfill the apparent intentions.

The Chamber has serious reservations regarding attorney-client and deliberative process privilege provisions as written. Additionally, the Chamber opposes changing the Tax Court’s standard of review of the state Department of Revenue decisions.

This is a very complicated bill and our position will be adjusted as amendments are made; our support and opposition will match the degree that our concerns are addressed.

Legislative Testimony: Tax Credit for Classroom Supplies

The Indiana Chamber’s Caryl Auslander testified today in support of House Bill 1005 Tax Credit for Teachers’ Classroom Supplies, authored by Rep. Ben Smaltz (R-Auburn).

This bill would allow teachers who often dip into their own pockets to provide classroom supplies for their students to receive a tax credit of up to $200 per year.

This is especially helpful for new, young educators that are just starting their careers and will assist all educators as they support Indiana students.

Legislative Testimony: Supporting Energy Efficiency

The Indiana Chamber’s Vince Griffin testified today in support of Senate Bill 412 – Demand Side Management, authored by Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis).

The Indiana Chamber supports a diverse energy supply. Energy efficiency is an essential element in that diverse portfolio. It is in the best interest of both the industry and utility to promote energy efficiency.

The industry benefits by lowering its utility bill and the power provider benefits by not building additional and very expensive generating facilities.

Legislative Testimony: Employment for Non-Union Teachers

The Indiana Chamber’s Caryl Auslander testified today in support of Senate Bill 302 – Employment Contracts for Non-Union Teachers, authored by Sen. Pete Miller (R-Avon) and Sen. Jim Smith (R-Charlestown).

The Indiana Chamber has long supported similar legislation allowing employees to choose whether or not they want to join their union. And as such, those that choose NOT to join their respective union for whatever reason should have the opportunity to negotiate their contract outside of the collective bargaining agreement that was set forth by that union – just as any other employee in the state might be able to do.

We feel that this legislation empowers both the employer and the employee to negotiate a contract that works best for BOTH parties.

Legislative Testimony: Bill Will Aid Talent Retention

The Indiana Chamber’s Caryl Auslander testified today in support of House Bill 1054 – Higher Ed Co-Op and Internship Programs, authored by Rep. David Ober (R-Albion).

The Indiana Chamber supports this initiative to tie together efforts from our universities, employers and students in a way to better support all three entities.

The program will incentivize students to stay in Indiana and have access to Indiana employers for potential employment after graduation. Ultimately, we believe this pilot program will help attract and retain additional bright future employees for our state, specifically in the much needed science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) areas.

On a related note, the Chamber has an affiliated program, Indiana INTERNnet, which is an internship-matching program. Since Indiana INTERNnet began a little more than a decade ago, the service has helped more than 60,000 students and 5,500 Hoosier employers access important tools and make connections with each other.

BizVoice: Social Media Changes Landscape of Hoosier Politics

Longtime WTHR-TV political reporter Kevin Rader says he picks up “ripples” on Twitter or Facebook about posts that are gaining steam, getting retweets and likes, that make him take notice to a certain policy or official’s statement. “It’s almost like an immediate Nielsen Report that comes to your desk every day that you can look at and say, ‘Oh, this is interesting … or this is interesting,’ ” he notes.

John Zody, chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party, believes social media is “big” for candidates and officeholders – and not just in a reactionary sense. “You have to think about how people are receiving news. It’s not just one way (traditional media) or the other (social media). You’ve got to have the proactivity to get out there and make sure it’s communicated every single way and exhaust every possible resource.”

His counterpart for the Republican Party, Tim Berry, says “The advantage of social media is that you can talk directly to your constituents. You’re not taking through Kevin or the Indianapolis Star. You’re talking directly to your constituents and then that is shared – your perspective is shared. And that’s what people sometimes miss through the use of social media – the opportunity to talk directly to your intended target.”

But there does need to be caution with social media usage, according to Andrew Downs, IPFW political science professor and director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics.

“It has got to be part of an overall strategy. You can’t ignore it; you’ve got to be present. But if you let it dominate, which it’s easy to do, you will lose. It doesn’t play that big of a role yet,” he asserts.

Rader offers another example of how Twitter, for example, has changed his job.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been frustrated by people who have now realized, ‘Look, I don’t have to make a statement to the media. All I have to do is Tweet a little something out and I don’t have to answer a question.’ You find yourself thinking, ‘Oh boy, so are we really serving the people sitting at home?’ You don’t get any follow-up, anything in-depth and it’s become acceptable now.”

But what can the media do? It has little choice but to cover it. And as Downs quips, “Yes, you don’t have to answer questions. That’s the beauty of social media (for candidates).”

Read much more from this group in the September-October edition of BizVoice magazine, where they discuss the climate in the state and what to look for on Election Day. A related article in the same issue focuses on the use of “digital first” technology to reach voters.