Inspire Your Industry: Vlogging for Thought Leadership


Cover image of educators behind the Teachers Talking Teaching vlog

Of all the marketing content you produce, thought leadership content is an unparalleled differentiator. It enables you to tell the stories that no other organization can tell, deliver knowledge that no other competitor has, and bring a perspective that no other person can have.

The challenge, of course, is getting your audience to engage—especially with complex topics. Not because they don’t care…but because there are thousands of other pieces of content competing for their attention.

This is where video really shines.

That was one of the first of many revelations that solidified the direction of Teachers Talking Teaching, a video series that celebrates and elevates the work of teachers. Tracey Bean and Dr. Traci Gile, the show’s hosts, have partnered with Refactored to produce two full seasons of in-depth, conversational interviews with professional educators at a steady pace of two episodes per month.

Recently, they took time out to talk with us about what that process looks like, what they’ve learned, and what other organizations should consider as they launch their own vlogging effort.

Refactored is proud to support Teachers Talking Teaching and to help bring visibility to the extraordinary professionalism of the teachers who are devoted to our kids and our communities. Learn more about the series in our earlier profile here.

How does video elevate your thought leadership content?

If you’re a marketing leader in any type of organization, you know the inherent benefits of video. It’s engaging for viewers, plays well with search engines, and is highly repurposable.

And leaning into video for thought leadership content humanizes your brand in ways that no other format can capture.

Does committing to a thought leadership video sound like a good idea?

For many leaders, the answer is an easy yes.

What about a series—or vlog—to create a real conversation with your industry peers and customers?

Well…it depends…

For some organizations, making a thought leadership vlog a regular feature in their content marketing lineup might seem like…a commitment.

However, aren’t you already committed? Consider the time and effort that you put into lassoing a SME for something as simple as a blog post. Subject matter experts are hard to corral because, while those posts are valuable, their time is MORE valuable.

But when you open the gate and allow your smartest SMEs to enthuse about what they know and do best, you get gold. (And yes, you can still write that blog. Or several.)

Even better, a regularly published vlog gives you the opportunity to bring in a variety of voices from across the organization. That’s right: Not every video has to feature the CEO. (And she’ll be so relieved.)

Refactored supports the Teachers Talking Teaching vlog with strategy and technical production.

What does it look like to produce a vlog series that captures your thought leaders’ knowledge and passion? Let’s take a look at some of the key insights that the Teachers Talking Teaching team shared.

View the Full Interview

How to start a thought leadership vlog?

Go with your passion—and define your intent.

For Tracey and Traci, their video project started with their own passion for sharing what they learn with others in the teaching profession. Then, they realized there was a need to enable those kinds of conversations for others. The project quickly grew to include voices from across their district.

“We really started with the idea of changing the narrative and inspiring people by elevating the teaching profession. It’s a career that offers great personal growth opportunities. The experiences you have interacting with kids and other colleagues—and with the content you teach as well—empower you to expand the way you see the world.

What often gets lost is hearing the voices of other educators. When decision makers are making choices about what kids need and how to solve problems, they sometimes forget to tap into the perspectives of teachers. We felt it was important to elevate the voices of the people who are doing the work.

As the series evolved, we started hearing that it was actually a great source of professional development for teachers who are watching. Great teachers want to continually evolve, so they pick up a tip or a resource or an avenue for better reaching their kids.

This second season has continued to allow us to hear from the genius and expertise of so many people in our profession who continue to inspire us and others in our community.”

How to develop new vlog topics?

Leverage your network.

In your marketing content program, you may already leverage video to tell certain elements of your story. With a video podcast or vlog, you have the opportunity to engage a different kind of audience and create a different kind of a conversation.

“When we were starting out, we brainstormed and talked about the stories that we wanted to tell that are representative of educators. And then we found people who fit a story and invited them to come be our guests. We started with people we knew well, then we branched off. And I think in the future seasons, we will expand that network to include maybe people we don't know quite so well, and hopefully we’ll get recommendations for others.

Don’t hesitate to go to your personal network. Some people might feel uncomfortable about asking their friends to come have a conversation on video. But starting with people you're comfortable with and already maybe have a bit of a rapport with can be a great way to work on your skills. You don't have the intimidation factor. When you know what your guest does and what they're amazing at, it’s easier to steer the conversation.

As your content grows, you’ll find new topics by listening to ideas in the conversations you’re having. For us, maybe it's a particular text or product or organization that a guest mentions in the interview. Whatever the guest elevates, I try to tag it on social media. That kind of completes the circle and enables us to then learn what educators value, need, and respond to.”

How long should a vlog episode be?

Meet your audience’s needs.

Initially, Tracey and Traci envisioned their series as an audio podcast. However, Refactored convinced them to move to a video-first format to enable them to meet their audience where they are. Adapting to audience needs is an ongoing process.

“You can build a strong audience with a podcast, but there's a stronger connection when you can physically see people. That shift to video has enabled us to reach more people through different platforms.

We’ve also changed how we produce episodes based on what we’ve learned about how people watch them. We started out by recording episodes that were 45 minutes to an hour long. But we discovered that people were only engaging with about the first 10 minutes.

The reality is, people don't necessarily have time to watch the entire thing. So we thought, how can we meet people where they are? If these teachers—our guests—are going to take the time to come meet with us, we want their story to be heard, we want to elevate their story. And the best way to do that was to break it into pieces.

Some people might be interested in the personal stories of how someone became a teacher. Others might be there for more professional development or strategies to use in their own classrooms the next day. So now, the episodes are shorter and more focused.”

Scripted or unscripted?

Show up as your true self.

For some thought leaders, presenting is a part of their job, so they do it naturally. Others may be less comfortable—but still have incredibly valuable knowledge to share. Help your SMEs showcase their strengths.

“We just happen to be in a profession where we're constantly improvising. If you become a teacher, it's because you probably like to talk a lot, and you don't mind public speaking. But learning to be the listener—that's never a bad skill to work on. So now I get to learn how to let the other person talk and how to just sit back and listen and respond.

And neither one of us has ever hosted a show before. So being unscripted is pushing us to think about questions in the moment. I think one of the things that has challenged me is figuring out how I help this person tell the best version of their story through the line of discussion that we've developed. For us, this has been a chance to continue to hone our skills as listeners and question askers and podcasting in general.

But maybe somebody who's trying this for the first time might feel better if they’ve prepped, and that's not a bad thing. Having a prepared set of questions or more of a script could be a source of comfort for some people.

In general, though, don't overthink it. You can always evolve.”

How do you keep momentum?

Build in flexibility.

Marketing leaders know the importance of publishing marketing content regularly. But what does a video production schedule look like in the real world?

“First, setting up interviews is easier this year; I think it's easier to articulate what we're inviting people to be part of because we have some content now that we can share with them. People are familiar with our show or may have heard of it when we're inviting them to be a guest. So there's some excitement when we invite people to be interviewed—and we both know educators who are really exceptional in their craft.

The planning and recording has changed a little bit because last year, we were doing a lot of weekends. And to be fair, we're all busy, including the teachers we’re interviewing. So to be more efficient with our time, we set out this year to do at least a couple of episodes back to back in each session. We determine first what our schedules look like and set aside time but leave a window so we can be somewhat flexible.

We keep prep minimal because we want a candid conversation and we want to follow our guests’ lead. And maybe we're using some of our own teaching moves to lead the conversation to where we want it to go, but ultimately, it's going to be much more interesting if it's about what they want to say.

Rob at Refactored handles the technical production on the back end, and we’re releasing on a on a fairly regular schedule. But we’ve agreed not to put an unnecessary demand on either one of us. Nobody's expecting a set launch date, so we can do it but also make it easy on ourselves.”

Video is a powerful addition to your content marketing strategy.

Get a capable partner to make it work for you.

For marketing leaders in complex organizations, associations, or technical industries, video is about more than getting out information. It’s about bringing to life the passion and intelligence that make your brand truly unique.

So when it’s time to select a video production partner, you need someone who will take the time to understand that passion—and help you advance your mission.

Talk to us about your vision. We’ll help you integrate video into your content marketing mix.