Horses for courses
With a full range of print, electronic and broadcast media to consider, video makes up just a small part of the landscape. Often, plain text in print or on the web, perhaps supported by graphics and photography, will be the right tool for the job.
Yet the immersive, engaging power of storytelling through film and video is well documented.
Video is not usually the best choice for the detailed exposition of a mass of data, where the ability to move back and forward through the material at your own pace can be important.
Interactive multimedia and web sites using video snippets, though, can usefully bring moving visual explanation and demonstration to supplement complex and detailed information or training.
At its best, video has an impact on the way we see the world. It can create an impression, influence a mood, or show things in ways that help our audiences to gain fresh understandings.
Products and services, people and places, controlled demonstrations, visual analogies, animated graphics, staged scenes, events and activities from far away or long ago or from right here right now - all these can be shown in controllable, reliable, consistent ways.
Absorbing visuals can carry involving stories that sway audiences, affecting reason and emotion.
The power, reach and credibility of television spill over to some extent to web or DVD-delivered corporate video - if this is done well.
Online, video is emerging as a viable source of entertainment and information, though like all forms of online advertising, the less intrusive it is the better.
The first cut is the deepest.
How you go about commissioning a video has a profound effect on what you get.
Sometimes you'll know exactly what you want. Then contacting a producer will involve discussions about the visual treatment and production standards appropriate for your ideas and audience, as well as costs and schedules.
Sometimes you'll know the job that you want to do, but have an open mind on how a video should do it. In this situation, you may find it helpful to invite suggestions from prospective producers. They may be illuminatingly varied, and offer opportunities for creating memorable, affecting video.
This kind of ideas-generation process, perhaps familiar from the worlds of advertising and design, can help you to achieve video which is fresh, striking, and fit for your target audience.
In either case you need to create a context in which good people can do excellent work on your behalf.
That involves care in selecting a producer, who will manage the production team on your behalf; and care in using your chosen producer.
To gain full advantage from the skills that you are paying for, you'll want to brief your producer thoroughly - and then listen to what he or she has to say