How To Cast The Right Video SpokespersonAmy Onorato 07.24.2018
Your video spokesperson is the face of your brand. They embody your message, and advocate your mission.
In this post, we’ll explore how to find the right video spokesperson. These tips are for hiring actors externally, and not for recruiting spokespeople from within your organization.
Part One: Creating Your Casting Call
Your video casting call needs to be detailed enough to attract the right person for the role. You may even want to focus group test to get a feel for what resonates with your target audience, and how people perceive your brand.
Travis Johansen, a video producer/cinematographer from Provid Films, recommends that you “be really narrow with what you’re looking for.” Your casting call should include:
- A description of the type of video you’re creating (an explainer video, a trade show video, a commercial, a video voiceover, etc.)
- A description of the type(s) of roles in your video. This can include specifics like age, gender, ethnicity, etc., depending on your narrative and needs
- Timelines and location of the video shoot. You should also detail if accommodations, like transportation, will be available if needed
- A brief overview of your company and mission
- Request for examples of prior work
- Whether you’re looking for Union or Non-Union actors (more on this below)
- Payment details and follow-up information
A note on budgeting: Union vs. Non-Union Actors
Before you send out your casting call, your team needs to determine whether or not you’re going to recruit Union or Non-Union actors. There are pros and cons of both.
Union actors: You need to make sure you are in compliance with Union regulations when casting Union actors. They’re typically more expensive to hire, so it’s important to factor that into your budget. Union productions will also sometimes entail paperwork that can be time-consuming. For more details on SAG-AFTRA laws, click here.
Non-union actors are less expensive, and have more freedom to work on non-union projects. You can find great talent without the Union credits, but be sure to vet appropriately when it comes to the audition process.
Getting Your Casting Call Out There
There are several ways to publicize your casting needs:
Casting Directors/Agencies. Though this may be a more expensive option, turning to a casting agent can help zero in on the right talent you’re looking for, while streamlining the vetting process. If you are having an in-person call, a casting agent can also relieve you of the headache of herding a number of visitors.
Casting Publications, Forums, And Websites. Posting your casting call to websites like Backstage or NYCastings will help amplify your message. Some websites charge a fee for listings, and others are free. For more resources, click here.
Social Media. It’s a boots-on-the-ground approach, but it does work! Seek out casting groups on Facebook, tweet out your announcement, and cast a wide net. You could even publish the casting notice on your website, and publicize on your own.
The Audition Process
This is where things get tricky. Once you have your potential talent lined up, it’s time to focus in on what you’re truly looking for.
Emily Fritz, marketing manager, dio, says a good spokesperson needs to have empathy with your brand, and the audience you’re trying to reach.
“If you’re speaking to a serious CEO, or a young mom, the spokesperson must be able to relate to them. He/she must come off as a trusted voice to that audience,” Fritz said. “Whether it’s through a video screen or in a brand activation setting, the spokesperson’s job is to engage. It may even be helpful if the spokesperson shares the same personal struggles as the audience, as that will affect the delivery of their message. While we can teach them about the brand, their personal connection is a knowledge that dives deeper than we can ever script.”
Johansen suggests asking actors to send in video examples of prior work, so you can see how they perform on camera. That way, you can narrow down top picks earlier on in the process. Once you’ve found your top picks, invite them in for a screen test with your script.
Celebrities and Influencers
A celebrity or influencer endorsement can go a long way for boosting brand awareness. But choosing the right celebrity or influencer comes with its own challenges.
“The key is authenticity whether they embody the values of the brand,” Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder/CEO, Mavens & Moguls, said. “Their look and feel matter, but the main thing is do they live the brand and is it consistent with their own life choices? Consumers are savvy and know when it is a good match. Especially now with social media, you know what celebrities eat, drink, wear, have in the real world so it should be consistent with their endorsements for the best results.”
Do Your Research
Brian Carter, agency CEO, Brian Carter Group, advises using social media tools to get a better view of how an celebrity would fit with your audience beforehand, as a kind of “focus test.”
“You can actually do data research on this using Facebook advertising tools, which will tell you how many of someone’s fans are also your brand’s fans,” Carter said. “You can also use Facebook ads to do small video tests of small groups of consumers- 10,000 or less- to validate brand resonance before launching a full campaign.”
Larger celebrities may come with heavier fees, and more complex legal contracts. You may want to seek out the help of an experienced casting agent, who can help chart the course and work out the details.
Your video spokesperson needs to be a perfect fit for your brand. Concentrate on your mission and your message, and you’ll know when you find the perfect fit.