Taking people into your life
Tom Cruise can certainly show us all how to build a connection with people.
In one viral video at the end of 2022 he took us into his world while demonstrating his and his movie’s brands in a spectacular but also replicable way.
You may be saying this is Tom Cruise but he’s made thousands of videos and done hundreds of stunts over the year and yet this video went viral with a million views a day, why? Because it took people into his life in an intimate and spectacular way.
What he did?
In the video, Tom is speaking directly into the camera. He thanks us for watching his movies and then jumps off a helicopter while still talking to us.
As he freefalls over the beautiful coastline of south Africa he continues to thank us for supporting his movies and wishes us a happy festival season. He then appears to release the camera and spins away.
But I can’t do that you might think? Bare with me. I’m not saying we need to hire a helicopter and learn to skydive unless you do.
What I’m talking about is replicating the way he takes us into his life with him.
The video is not just a marketing message but is very personal. You can actually see a shadow of a cameraman cross him at one point but the camera is so close to him that it feels like he is holding the camera and taking you with him. It feels like it’s just you and him, not millions of other people.
While many companies continue to talk from behind an emotional wall using the phrase “we” in their communications Tom is inviting us into his world and the technique works and it’s the approach every successful influence uses too.
How can I emulate it?
What hobbies do you have?
Do you paint? Could you be painting as you say something about your organisation?
Do you ride horses? Drive sports cars? Play local football or soccer? Play chess? Or, even just like to watch the same TV shows as your target market?
All of these provide a backdrop to show we are human. They are part of us.
Make it relevant
Now think what is the most relevant scenario I can be in?
An influencer once told me that people want to see you have just come out of the meeting, or just come out of the conference centre or the thing you want to talk about.
It’s that personal, in-the-moment recording that feels less rehearsed and rawer. A raw video feels authentic because it feels like you didn’t have time to prepare it and be clever about what you say, even if you did.
That very authenticity triggers the audience to feel a connection. It feels like you’ve brought them into their life.
Even Tom’s staged video felt rough, a bit unscripted and that made it so much more authentic.
We can all do this
It’s not hard technically and it’s certainly cheap compared to many things you can do.
In Tom’s case, it’s hard to tell how he recorded the sound. Looking at the shadow of the cameraman it’s possible there was a telescopic microphone with a very big wind muffle but equally, the reason tom was on his back may have meant he had a microphone under his shirt and he was pointing that way to reduce the wind
I have often used a Rode Go microphone for projects. you can put this under your shirt or record with a small lavalier microphone. Here is a photo.
And then there is software like Descript.com where you can not just edit the video but also clean up the noise too.
I think I mentioned this before. Many years ago when I started in journalism I was recording a feature about rally driving. While other journalists were still using reel-to-reel tape recorders and then taking the tape back to edit, I used a mobile phone to report live from inside a car.
Technology is constantly changing and offering us opportunities to do things that used to require a big broadcaster to do. And these things allow us to create an impact and connection with the audience.
Be careful to get the setting right
Of course, we want to pick the right situations. There’s is no point being Balenciaga and apologising for the distress some felt from their recent campaign if the spokesperson is standing on the beach with their kids but almost anything else could work.
Reveal a part of you (or the person speaking)
But revealing a part of you works.
It’s a technique you use in journalism a lot when people won’t open up.
You offer something of yourself to get other people to offer A LOT about themselves. When you open up, they open up and like you more.
If our goal is to develop a connection, then why not take the public into our lives or the person speaking’s life, a little more and start developing a more personal connection “trigger” in the public’s minds.
We may not be Tom Cruise but we can certainly use the techniques he’s used in this viral video ourselves.
1. Think of the next campaign you are going to do, or social media update.
2. Is it featuring a person, even you?
3. Think about what the topic is and then ask yourself, how do I engage with this topic? Do I do this thing, or a part of this thing in a factory, at a workbench, on a computer or at a conference?
4. How could I demonstrate that in action?
Let me share an example.
Let’s say you are a high street retailer and you are trying to get across the fact you pay factory staff a fair wage.
Then how about your CEO starts filming on their mobile phone at the entrance to the factory.
They turn to the camera and say, “So I’m visiting the X factory today. This is something I like to do because I want to make sure everyone who works on the clothes you wear is getting a fair deal too.”
Then without an edit, you see them walk in through the door and be greeted. If they have to wait in a waiting room, even better as it’s more authentic.
Then edit to a point where they walk through the door onto the factory floor and start walking around.
They see someone working away and they say, “What are they doing over there?”
Then go over to that worker (it might help to have an idea of some good people to talk to obviously) and then ask what they are doing?
Then the CEO says to that worker, “Actually, I want to ask you. I’m doing this video for all our customers. You are making clothes for them? What’s your message to them?
This isn’t hard. It doesn’t take more than a few seconds of planning. If they record 5 mins and you edit down to 60 seconds then fine. All they need to do is to film into their mobile phone in the same way they would if they were recording it for a friend.
5. So how can you turn these ideas into something you could do.