This is a question we get asked often here at Limeworks. And while the answer is really “it depends”, here’s some thoughts to consider.
What is the lifespan of the content?
If the content is evergreen (not expected to be removed in future), or at least has an expected lifespan of more than a few months, then hired talent may be the best option.
If the content you’re producing is expected to only have a short life span (days, weeks, perhaps even a few months), then using your own team for productions is generally free of issues, assuming they’re willing and able, and suitable for the content you are producing.
One key example of this is Bunnings Warehouse, who are famous for using real employees in their ads. Their employees can apply to appear in ads, just as freelance talent can apply to an open casting. However this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right choice for you.
Bunnings ads typically have a fairly short lifespan, barely a few weeks. In the event of a major problem, they have many other versions of the ads for the same campaign they can use. Their online DIY videos are more evergreen in nature, however.
One key aspect to think about is; “What happens if they leave the company?”. While someone leaving your company may not render the content unusable, if they move on to a competitor or company which could damage your reputation, it may be wise to discontinue use of the content. This is particularly the case if that person features prominently in key content for your company, such as a long term advertising campaign.
One obvious upside to using your team is that they typically know your business and its products or services well. This deep knowledge makes producing content with them easier in many ways.
If you want to utilise this knowledge but decide to use hired talent (i.e. an actor), you can use your team to help create scripts. These scripts can then be refined and rehearsed by your actor for delivery to camera.
For longer form content such as technical explainer videos, tools such as teleprompters can be utilised to allow them to deliver rich content to camera, without having a true understanding of it themselves. A good hired actor, experienced with this type of production, will deliver it well.
For explainer style content, another powerful option to consider is the use of brand ambassadors or influencers. The right partnership means your on-screen talent will be knowledgeable about your industry (food, DIY repairs etc). While these people will command higher talent fees than a regular actor, collaboration can potentially give you access to their audience, while making content production simpler because they can assist with content development too.
Regardless of whether the content is for internal use (i.e. training your team) or external (social media, advertising etc), you should always have a signed talent release. This may be included in employment contracts, but ensure you have one in place.
Releases can cover everything from where the content can be published and for how long. It’s important that you consider how you’re going to distribute and promote your content prior to production. A change in strategy from say, digital to TV, could require you to renegotiate your talent releases, as well as anything else in your content such as music and voiceovers.
Limeworks can assist with the challenges associated with releases, to ensure you’re covered