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A Networker's Crossroads


Our passion at MWS is for helping businesses get noticed and tell stories through our skills and services. Video shows personality, so a stranger gets insight to you and what you do, and is a brilliant element of marketing.

So how else can marketing take place? Our team is a bunch of wildly diverse personalities, but who are we to the outside world, and how else can we show our faces? Sound familiar?

With this in mind, I turned my attention to networking. I wanted to find out what kind of groups are out there, which proved the most effective and why, and learn from other people’s experiences. I did some research of the area and began visiting various groups to experience a new way of introducing ourselves and having a presence in the business community. I came across early morning, lunch, and evening events, some with training, some purely mingling, some with a high rate of visitors and some who had all done business with each other. 


A few weeks down the line I stopped dead and realised I was so abundant with choice it was staggering! 


I had several initial thoughts running through my mind which I’m sure is the same for you when considering the networking scene: who am I meeting, how many memberships can I afford, what time can I set aside, where is it truly active? 


So I took a step back and hid behind the computer, and used LinkedIn to pose a question to Business in Berkshire to see what would happen. 


Networking Yin & Yang 

After coming across such a variety of networking groups over recent months, I'm curious to find out how people pick and choose the right groups for them, and if they attend multiple ones that cater for different benefits.


If this is the case, how many do you attend? What categories do they fulfill? What benefits do you focus on for each group?


Your thoughts!


32 comments then followed, where passionate networkers and keen business developers began to offer their advice on their selection process and what they hoped to gain. This included those who valued the training element of the events, those who hoped that forging good relationships would lead to referrals, and those who found that their personal approach on behalf of their business gave a clearer idea to strangers about what they do and why they enjoy their work. This last pointer became a buzzing subsection in the discussion, making me see that nowadays people want to do ‘why’ you do what you do, and not just ‘what’. 


Interestingly, a general opinion in this discussion, as well as one in the events I attended, was that networking is changing into a more powerful tool.  Business Development has evolved, and the cold-calling environment and any random business card scattering seems to have lost its appeal and effect. Building relationships and developing trust has become a key factor to any form of selling. We tend to leave our ‘cold-calling’ approach to social media, developing a presence online with these strangers until you come across them at an event or a meeting, and recognition of your business is instantly activated. 


People attending networking events now seem to want to learn, want to bond and want to develop business with people who they know as much as who knows them. It has becomes especially popular for those working alone, where their daily activities could become lonely and de-motivating without taking time to be around ambitious and proactive people.


A tick-box approach was suggested by one professional: turn up, smile, and try to help. Another professional suggested designing a map, like a family tree, to track who you meet and how people connect you with new business. 


Once people feel they are learning and building good connections, the ROI seems to become satisfactory. 


I absorbed the opinions that this conversation sparked, now fully assured that a personality is a key factor in business introductions. But as there are only seven days in a week it’s also about juggling the time! Perhaps a video can act as a form of networking too? The outreach would be greater, and those who see the video learn the business personality, how they represent themselves and what service is available. It’s one-sided networking, but somewhere someone sees your video and you are stored in the radar for potential business in the future! 





Categories: General


Are You The 87.6894%........Reading This?

You may have come across this via our website and therefore taken a look around our past work to see who we have supported and promoted, and probably recognised a few businesses too. If you’ve come across this post another way, of course I encourage you to take a look after!

(I think that is what’s known as a ‘shameless plug’.)

It’s as important to us as any other company to show evidence of our work and therefore prove that our help can develop a business. Once this is underway, we become part of the global research effort into marketing and what the best tools are for this marketing to be maximized.

Video has been on the rise for a few years now, the popularity of it accelerating as fast as the intelligence of technology in everything. I briefly scouted into bodies such as Econsultancy, b2bmarketing, Forrester Research and MarketingProf, who have researched into video marketing, and it’s predicted that by 2017 69% of internet traffic will be video. This further supports our enthusiasm for the Audio/Visual Revolution that seems already pulsating!

But where do statistics such as these belong in the world of business development? Surely it’s our foundation and key proof that, whatever our business is, the product or solution is only getting stronger and more effective. Does that mean it is part of that initial conversation of who you are, why you are and how you are?

I tried to imagine the atmosphere I would create if I incorporated statistics into my first introduction with someone, pretty much immediately:

“Hi, my name’s Gemma, I’m from MWS Media. Did you know 84% of visitors to your website are more likely to buy your product if there is video?”

“Did you know 81% marketers use video for marketing activity?”

“If there’s video on your website then your chances of being first page of Google increases to 53%.”

Now, reading this back there were aspects of these statements that caught my attention and excited me. But I did read them, not hear them from a stranger within 30 seconds of a phone call. Whilst all these statistics support my belief that video works, there’s something a little alien to me about quoting these over the phone to someone I’ve never met.

In my daily life, using statistics tends to be part of a lengthy (and either political or philosophical) discussion with a group of friends in a pub. Any time I hear statistics over the phone by a stranger it somehow deflates my desire to engage with them and therefore pursue their offer. I think it is because it is a colder approach than acknowledging the person on the other end of the phone. There is a place for statistics to act as evidence, but I have to admit I’m not sure it’s here.

On calling someone we don’t directly know, it’s important to reflect the personality of the business as much as the supporting evidence. The general route MWS Media works with is to introduce us with our personality and keen to help attitude, and then follow up this introduction with an email or link on social media that proves our skills and why we’re enthusiastic about the future of video for marketing.

Perhaps the next time you introduce yourself to a stranger when you’re in your business make-up, try to listen to the flow of conversation, be yourself first and don’t try to move away from this too quickly, and hold up your promotional banner when the conversation steers that way.

It’s our personality that makes everyone different, and statistics have a danger to imply collective, cold and one-sided, rather than the human reality that people are really looking for. That’s why I believe the who, why and how you are is a lot better represented in this way, and the facts and figures can be our muscles rather than our faces. 

Categories: Tips, General


Business Tip 4

Here at our studio in Newbury, Berkshire, we’re fortunate to be in the “tech corridor” alongside the M4. This means we are able to stay abreast of the constantly changing technology landscape, not just in terms of video production, but general advances in business communications. So strap yourself in and prepare to have your mind blown by the 4th of our 5 business tips in August. #thingssurehavechangedrecently


Categories: Tips, News, Film, General


All The World's a (Selling) Stage

In working life, in fact any part of life, we all have a certain amount of awareness of how you present yourself to the outside world. Building relationships and first impressions are huge factors as to whether your business moves forward or not.

So what do you do to enhance and develop your ‘image’ or personality so that success comes your way? Is that part of ‘sales’?

At MWS Media you can probably imagine that, given our line of work, we all have a keen interest in the arts in some way. That may be film, theatre, music or art. Myself, I be the theatre one. That’s why I’d like to use this blog to consider how theatre works to conduct sales, business development, and client relationships, and whether that might also be worth a thought for you.

To put it into context: I attended an arts school called Dartington, which was devoted to experimental and soul-searching artistic pursuits. I ended up in business development because I care about collaboration and making great things, and helping a business promote their work and outreach with a video has ended up to be a happy passion. The famous quote ‘All the world’s a stage’ adjusted to a new reason for me to keep business development meaningful and productive.

These are some of the key points below about some theatre elements that inform my experience in business development and therefore what we also consider when creating a video for each client. 

1)    Costume – As there are many different characters even in one story, as it follows you change your appearance according to your audience. At MWS Media we dress a bit casually, as we feel relaxed and more creative this way, but if I have to meet with a stranger who is from a larger and more formal background, I’m going to try to reflect that in my appearance so that it not only shows effort and respect, but encourages you both to interact on the same level. It all depends on the key aspect of you that you would like to get across.

2)    Props – Your key tool that supports your performance. Can you bring an example of your work/product to this meeting to show? This adds credibility. For some this is easier to take into other places than others, for example, I’ve recently met a dress designer who will only ever wear her own clothes, therefore her best form of advertising in public and in meetings. I can’t walk around with a TV screen on my back every day, but I could bring video examples to show. We can always prepare to show evidence in meetings, and if unexpected connections are made outside of work, we can always show a positive and helpful attitude to show our intentions are good for others.

3)    Improvisation – If you’ve ever had a go at this type of acting, a common rule is to give the other actor an ‘open’ answer or statement so that the situation can carry on. People who say ‘no’ or give short and closed answers cut off improvisation and therefore things can end abruptly. It’s the same within business development, with potential and existing clients. Always ask questions and give them opportunities to develop the conversation.

4)    The Script – Actors have lines to say the same way those developing business have a ‘pitch’. But if you remember that awful actor who said their lines with no emotion, it’s also a danger of your own. Don’t let your pitch become your lines with no real conviction behind them. Not only look interested in what you’re saying but experiment with the best ways to communicate it so that it feels authentic to you and to your ‘audience’.

So hopefully those parts of the theatre world have created some consideration to provide a new perspective on business development, keeping the creativity going and enjoyable too! When creating video that promotes business we take the time to cover all these aspects and more, so that the positive image and personality is presented in the most effective way.

Categories: Tips, General


Business Tip 2

Doubtless those of you who watched our first Business Tips video are already seeing the benefits in your business. Here, as promised, is number 2 of the 5 Top Business Tip Videos we’re releasing in August. Happy Businessing!


Categories: Tips, News, Film, General


Business Tip 5

Our final tip for the month, hopefully by now your business is booming thanks to our invaluable advice. This last tip for the month should be enough to see profits soar, and we'll be back later this year with more amazing tips and business advice for you, see you soon!


Categories: Tips, News, Film, General


And The Survey Says!

There are stats all over the internet that describe just how awesome video is.

Stats like:

- Most people retain 95% of the message of a video compared to only 10% of what they read in text.
- 85% of customers are more likely to buy on a website after watching a video.
- 80% of users can recall a video they've viewed within the last 30 days.
- Video content is shared, on average, 1200% more times than links and text combined.
- 59% of executives would rather watch video.

However there are also stats like this:

- 56% of businesses said that the biggest barrier to them using video was not enough of time.

- 55% said that the biggest barrier was expense.

- 30% said that the biggest barrier was lack of experience and skills.
- 58% of businesses said there was a video skills gap in their department.
- 18% said they didn’t know if there wasn't a video skills gap in their department.

So everyone seems to agree that video works right? And that it's a vital tool for marketing? But lots of people aren't using it because of lack of time, resources and understanding?! Here at MWS Media we think that's a massive shame and being the loveable filmmaking rogue's we are we want to help you use video to benefit your business, whether that's making video with us or yourself!

We thought the best way to help you break down some of these barriers was to give you a Video Production Process Guide. This should help you if you want to start making your own content or if you need understand the process before using a video production company or agency.

Click on the SlideShare link below to see the guide.


We hope you find this useful and as always please leave comments to let us know what you think of us and our content as we're always trying to grow an improve.

If you did enjoy this guide we have created a Members Area on our website where you can sign up for exclusive access to helpful videos, guides, tips and templates; so if this sounds good to you head on over to sign up!
Thanks for reading,


Categories: Tips


Business Tip 3

MWS Media's third insightful business tip this month! Have you been integrating our tips in to your business? If so, let us know the results by commenting below.


Categories: Tips, News, Film, General


Can I Produce My Own Video In-House?

I am a member of several LinkedIn groups and recently someone posted a question.  They had made their own in-house video – and to put it bluntly, it clearly wasn't their area of expertise.  It was well, it was woeful (nice word, shame I have to use it).  And they wanted to know if people liked the video, because the guys in the office thought this was fine, and why would you pay for professional expertise when cameras are so cheap now.  So I wrote a response – and didn't post it, as it was too long and I didn't want to offend anyone (I was new to the group!).  Well I naturally have strong views on the subject, and I will pose and answer the question this raised for me here, and hopefully you'll enjoy them and find them useful.   

So here's the question (agony Aunt style):  “Dear Ben, I have a camera and some editing software, and I know how to use them;  Can I produce my own web video/advertisements in-house? Signed A B Zissman”

Dear A B, in answering this, I will give you my honest opinion.  Be warned though – I am passionate on the subject! 

First and foremost, I would answer the question as simply as possible; yes, of course you can produce your own video in house.  The question that we should really be asking I think, is should you do so.  And the answer to that is it depends how you want your brand to be viewed by your customers, your peers, and on what you want to achieve.

So here we go –

Part 1: Sound

The two basic elements anyone can name in successfully producing a video are the visuals and the audio, and the first thing that the inexperienced or the inexpert filmmaker does, pretty well every time, is forget that the audio is as important as the visuals.  Seriously, it is.  But without wanting to pick on anyone and specifically critique a particular video, I think I'll make a broader point.  There are so many thousands of videos out there, and so many more being created and uploaded all the time.  This is because from a business perspective savvy marketeers have long been in the know about the effectiveness of well made video.  However, the fact that there is a lot of noise out there means the first thing you need to do in producing your video is to cut through this noise, and for that you have to understand how to target your video, and then how to produce something that will appeal to your intended audience. 

The fact of the matter is, people switch off, or disengage from, or fail to take away and remember messaging from a video with poorly produced audio.  If you want them to listen, for goodness sakes get the sound right.  And a tip here – good post-production sound engineers will use what you do hear and what you don't hear to create the perfect effect. 

A simple rule that so many people even now don't understand - sound recording should not be done through the intrinsic camera mic.  “But what if” I hear you ask, “for aesthetic reasons I'm specifically going for the 'I made this at home' sound/feel?”  Even then, you should record the best quality sound and use post-production to create this effect, giving you maximum control, because unless you're a sound expert, you won't get the effect right on the camera mic – you'll just get people switching off!  Nor should your audio mixing be done by someone who frankly fails to recognise the importance of sound in the first place, and lacks the expertise to deliver.  If you expect someone to take the time to watch and listen to your video, make it as compelling as possible, give them a reason to watch it – but at the very least, don't give them reasons to switch it off! 

Part 2: The Visuals

And with visuals, please at least shoot at a quality that says “I care about this video”.  If you don't, we the viewers will not care either.  Yes, you can spend a couple of grand and get a decent full HD camera that shoots at 50 mb/s, but for the most part its the equivalent of buying a Ferrari Italia and putting it in the chimpanzee enclosure in the zoo.  You're asking for trouble, and the odds are they won't use it right. 

Mise-en-scene – a good phrase meaning, well a lot – essentially everything in your frame, the composition of all that you see on screen, from the lighting, the blocking – where people are stood – to the set, props – like I said, the whole shebang.  Mise-en-scene literally means “put in the scene”, and it is absolutely key to telling any compelling narrative.  It’s how you tell a story – and please believe me, everything you put on video needs a story.  So understanding why something goes where, why your actors are placed here, why there is white space there, back light here, fill light there, soft edges here – its all part of what the viewer takes in, and it is a real skill to understand and direct things to achieve this.  If you shoot in full HD (not usually needed for web delivery, but worth doing in terms of usage options) but your composition, lighting, blocking – whatever – is wrong, then you're selling your company short, because it won't work.

Lighting is important – key – to producing anything of real quality and you need to know how and why to use it, but if you are going to shoot low quality, lighting won't help much.  The equipment you use is important.  That said, its still probably only 10%, at the very most, of the battle in terms of making a video engaging.  The rest is down to the filmmaker(s).

I told you I was passionate about this, so you'll have to forgive me.

Part 3: The Presenter and the Voiceover

An interjection here might well be; “But surely Ben, a simple talking head video can be produced in-house?”  (I crowbarred this in here as the video which prompted this post was a talking head video).
If you're going for a very basic model of video, such as the talking head, the presenter needs to communicate through the screen directly to the viewer.  Using people from within your business can be a good idea.  BUT if you can't help them out with some nice visuals, a strong sound mix, a tight, engaging and succinct script, you need someone with immense charisma and a good director to help them through it, or a trained professional.  It simply isn't fair to ask someone to pull it off if it isn't their forte, and certainly not if the production values are so low that much of your audience isn't listening anyway. 

Common problems for non-professional presenters;

1) “Acting” - they will try and act, look like they are acting, and become clownish.
2) Remembering – if they have a script they need to learn, they will often look like they are remembering lines from it.
3) Delivery – it takes training, and more importantly years of practice, to become proficient as a presenter or voice over artist.  If someone tells you they are the exception to this rule – trust me, they aren't.
4) Autocue – reading from an Autocue is not as easy as it sounds.  Amateurs will tend to struggle with the combination of concentrating, delivering with the correct emphasis and appearing natural and at ease.

Part 4:  The Conclusion

In a time of austerity, I completely understand why you might want to produce your own video rather than pay out for expertise, but I would say this; if it’s for your business, do it properly, and the minimum here is to use these sort of forums to get the right advice from experts.  And I feel I must ask – why would you spend 5 or 6 days doing video when it isn't your core skillset?  That's time you could be working with your customers, refining your own processes – or if you're like me, sitting back with a cold beer after 6 o'clock!  Don't waste your time getting to a place where you're producing “not-as-bad-as-it-could-be” video, when you could be spending it more valuably.  If you like playing with a flip cam or handycam, play about with it at home – it isn't good business, on the whole.  For example, I'm not an expert cameraman, so I don't do camera work on our videos.  I could, because I'm pretty good at it.  But I don't and shouldn't. 

All of that said, if you're going to do it yourself, ask for some advice, I and my fellow producers here at MWS are always happy to provide helpful advice.  As a 5 point technical plan to getting it closer to right, here is what I would advise for anyone thinking of shooting in-house video – as a bare minimum.

1) Buy a camera that at least gives you a quality that shows you care about the end product.
2) Record the sound using an external condenser mic – the sound of the whirring camera screams “we didn't put much effort into this!”  When you use something amateur to represent your business, it's dangerous territory.
3) No cut points and reading awkwardly from a script is being unnecessarily cruel to the presenter.  One seemingly random cut point often says “I'm covering a mistake”.  Even iMovie lets you cut and edit effectively.
4) Any effect, such as desaturation or going fully black and white for no apparent reason doesn't make your video any more classy.  Any amateur with a home video camera has done this for a laugh – don't make your business a laughing stock.
5) Don't start the camera rolling until you have carefully targeted the video and know exactly; what you're going to shoot, why, and how you're going to measure the results (asking colleagues, friends and family if it's good doesn't count!).  Otherwise, you're probably going to waste your time.

In summary: A B, yes you can shoot video yourself.  And no, you probably shouldn't.



Categories: General

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