FRIDAY 31 MAR 2023 11:51 AM


Ben Heaysman, film and content creator at Sledge, considers the crucial role film plays in corporate communications.

As attention spans grow shorter, it’s important for organisations to explore alternative ways to educate and inform stakeholders and, in turn, provide them with a platform on which to share feedback. In my view, film and video content has a valuable role to play here, and it should ideally form part of every stakeholder communication plan today.

Also important is providing stakeholders with the opportunity to come together face-to-face. In-person events provide opportunities for open discussion and organic Q&A time, and can therefore bolster an organisation’s relationship with employees, investors, associations, and the wider community, and allow it to take key thoughts and considerations on board.

I’ve witnessed firsthand how developing communication plans that place both film and events at the forefront can produce powerful results in internal settings, and it’s an approach that I advocate for. For the purpose of this piece, I’ve opted to hone in on some of the ways automotive companies can embrace these two mediums to communicate with stakeholders in impactful ways.

Addressing complex topics with explainer animations

Matters such as the transition to electric vehicles (EVs), synthetic fuel usage and zero emission car production processes can be complex, which means communicating them with clarity is a must. Here is where bespoke animations, which incorporate a varied mix of on brand textures, colours and dynamics have a powerful role to play, from both an education and engagement perspective.

We applied this approach to our work with The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) around COP26, for example, which saw our team first strategise how we could most effectively communicate information about the global transition to EVs. We went on to pinpoint the most pertinent data and takeaways, and distilled the subject matter into easily digestible, bite-sized pieces of animated content, complete with engaging narrators.

Animations of this nature are highly versatile, and can be played during times such as keynote addresses by company leaders and during Q&A sessions with members of leadership, as well as housed on company intranets once the event ends.

Immersive training and education sessions

Looking to 3D render engines such as Unreal Engine is an effective way to illustrate how a new vehicle, or feature that is to be implemented across multiple vehicles, will look, feel and operate.

This technology is particularly effective when used to provide stakeholders with insight into models or parts that are yet to launch, such as a sophisticated, electronically powered engine, and to develop in-depth showcases of existing products that go beyond what the eye can see.

Including content of this nature in internal training sessions for production-based employees, for example, can not only enhance education and understanding, but see organisations gain further buy-in and support from their people.

Enhancing understanding via augmented and virtual reality

The test drive is central to the automotive sector, so developing interactive augmented or virtual experiences, and making them available for participation at an internal event, whether held in-person or virtually (as headsets can be readily sent to peoples’ homes) is an effective way for stakeholders to further visualise a new vehicle.

At the same time, if an organisation is introducing a new production process or car part, this content can be incorporated into employee training modules, or, if it is seeking to host a large-scale event, AR and VR goes far beyond an ‘artist's impression’ to illustrate to local governments and community members how the experience would play out.

The value of an ‘always on’ approach

In addition to supporting events as they unfold, films and content are incredibly valuable throughout an event’s life cycle.

I’ve found bite-sized teasers that are shared via platforms such as internal email communications and company portals can generate interest and intrigue from the very beginning.

Meanwhile, sharing highlights, key takeaways and educational content after the fact ensures stakeholders can refer back to them in the future.

A key factor to keep in mind here, though, is to plan how, where and when content will be repurposed when developing the initial stakeholder communication plan, and then editing films as required so that they complement the specifications of the different platforms they will be hosted on.