Justin Bieber Made Me A Believer In Workplace Videos

Katrina Kibben Employment Branding and Culture, Video

The first time I heard a Justin Bieber song, I was driving to my first startup job outside Washington, D.C. The intersection was busy, and as we crawled one inch at a time toward the office, I heard the distinct voice of Usher come on the radio. I was a big fan of him in the late ’90s, so I turned it up. 

This was some in-the-studio session. Usher was explaining what it was like to be young and famous. He wanted to mentor other young artists to ensure they didn’t have the same bad experiences. Then, he introduced some kid named Justin. He was only 14 at the time, but I remember listening and thinking, “Wow, this kid is talented.”

It was Justin Bieber. Clearly, that gig was memorable. However, his name is notable for more than his singing voice. In the last 10+ years, he has rampaged the headlines with dicey decisions from drag racing to canceling entire world tours. 

Then, nothing. After a few years of running the paparazzi around Miami, he went into hiding. No new music, no parties, no headlines. No Justin Bieber. Until this year. 

When Justin decided to make new music, his team needed to build momentum. As much as he already had a well-known name among his fans, it’s easy for new music and even known artists to fly under the proverbial radar. 

In an attempt to build momentum, they filmed a first of it’s kind YouTube documentary series. It was simple, really. A 10-part series of 10-minute episodes documenting the four years of Justin’s life that he was offline. He talks about his marriage to model Hailey Baldwin (now Bieber), his diagnosis with Lyme disease, and his battle with drug addiction and anxiety. Of course, the series also shows a behind-the-scenes preview of his album “Changes.” 

I’m not a Bielber but listen. This video series is brilliant, and there’s a lesson here for corporate America’s PR and employer branding teams. 

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I got sucked in, and I’m not alone. Over 65 million people have watched the first episode as of today. While I would expect some of that based on his fan base, that’s not why people tuned in. 

It’s so rare that people in the spotlight allow their fans to experience their real life. They’re seen on red carpets and live streams, but we know that’s performance. As an audience, some part of us knows it’s not real, and that’s what makes such a significant impact. 

That’s not what happened here. This was a sneak peek. Quiet conversations. Old stories. Laughter. It felt real and less like promotional material for a new record and world tour. 

Did you watch at least one episode? Taking notes? Good. 

Now, look at your workplace videos and CEO messages. Do they feel like a sneak peek or a promotion? You don’t need to answer, but you do need to realize this. Our candidates and employees are watching Leaving The Spotlight, then your CEO clearly reading a teleprompter. 

Which one will they remember? 

Most employer brand videos are promotions that leave your audience feeling the same way we do after a concert: exhausted from watching a performance, and ready to move on to whatever is next. That’s what happens when you rely on promotion, not proof, to tell the story. 

Think about this the next time you’re writing storyboards for a video that will introduce a new CEO, deliver a video message from leadership, or celebrate employees. It’s not about perfection anymore. Personal is professional in 2020. You need to capture proof of your talking points, not someone reading them. 

How do you capture proof instead of talking points? What does it really mean to work there? 

Focus on capturing proof, not the bulleted list of messages your PR agency whipped up if you want anyone to remember watching your workplace videos.