At HMG Creative, our vision is to erase barriers to growth by being the go-to partner for brand development, website design and development, and marketing support. Our team works together under one roof in south-central Austin. Together, we’ve cultivated a fun and comfortable work environment where we work, eat, play plenty of ping pong, and grow as a team. Working under the same roof means smooth and effective communication with our clients and a seamless process within our own team.
Our togetherness makes us stronger. In the wake of COVID-19 and social distancing measures, however, togetherness looks a little different. To stay relevant, we’ve pivoted our approach by practicing one of our guiding principles: staying creative. Thinking of new ways to connect with each other and our clients, we knew our solution would be found in the digital world. We explored new methods of achieving our mission of launching brands into expansive growth while still staying true to our vision. With a collaborative effort, we identified the perfect opportunity: a webinar series.
Our senior brand strategist, John Paulsen, took the reins on this endeavor, acting as the host for our very first webinar series on Brand Story. Ultimately, he wanted to create a production process that was cost-effective, easily executable, and reproducible. The webinar series came to fruition exactly as we hoped. And since figuring out new digital avenues to reach people isn’t always easy, we wanted to share about our experience and process in hopes of equipping other businesses to stay better connected during this time of distancing. Read on for some helpful tips on how to start, setup, and produce your very first webinar.
How We Did It
From the beginning, John was adamant about getting it right. He did the research and equipped himself with knowledge on the best technology and techniques to produce engaging content. Watching YouTube videos to gain inspiration for studio setups, soaking up overall production direction, and studying different hosts and their methods, John was able to develop a simple, replicable setup for an ongoing webinar series.
With a couple of GoPros laying around, John got right to work. The additional equipment he used was simple and affordable:
- A couple of GoPros (any type of camera will work)
- An HDMI Capture Device
- HDMI cables
- Keynote (any presentation platform will work)
- iPad for Quicktime player and screen share usage if using Keynote
- Open Broadcast Software (OBS)
John’s GoPros, iMac, and iPad were all interconnected through Open Broadcast Software (OBS) to create a seamless pipeline for presentation. OBS is a free and open-source cross-platform streaming and recording program. This program allowed our host to share camera views and his screens simultaneously with the audience. To display his Keynote presentation, John used Quicktime player on his iMac to play the Keynote on an iPad, then shared that window with OBS. That allowed him to stream directly to YouTube Live where we broadcasted the webinar.
We wanted the webinar to be an interactive experience, so we utilized YouTube’s chat feature to engage directly with attendees with another one of our team members monitoring the chat. One of the obstacles we encountered was significant latency in the video broadcast, so it was challenging to answer questions from the chat in real-time. In the future, we hope to solve this issue by embedding videos on our website and integrating our own chat feature.
Now that we’ve systematized our process in a way we can easily replicate, we are starting to expand our vision for future webinars. We’re hoping to:
- Involve more people and make the experience more conversational
- Expand on topics of our expertise outside of brand
- Upgrade camera angles and the overall studio setup
- Perfect our production using the OBS platform
- Personalize the webinars through the Q&A section
- Improve habits and polish overall delivery
John said it himself, it will be six months to a year before we declare this a failure or success. Given the circumstances and our goal of being quick to action and cost-effective, we knew they would not be perfect right away. Rarely is anything excellent the first few times. We’ve gained a lot from producing these webinars and the bottom line is — we’ve shared our expertise with the community in hopes that it helps to boost their businesses in one way or another. This webinar project is a testament to two of our HMG principles:
Stay Creative – our work is rooted in new ideas and new processes, but be ready to make decisions using your experience and knowledge.
Be Good Stewards – of the assets of our clients, our community, and our company.
We hope this information can help you stay creative.