Kimberly Schwartz

Before you started your career, did you have a vision for what you expected to do every day?

Once upon a time, I was a quiet English major who dreamed of being an editor. I assumed I would spend my days sitting at a desk, and that I would spend half my time with a red pen in hand and the other half in Microsoft Word.

As it turns out, I still do spend a lot of my time that way. But I have found that the continuing digital evolution has also added many unexpected roles to my career. Now my job not only involves editing and writing, but also Twitter, podcasts, LinkedIn, blogs, and videos.

I’m sure that many of you can relate to this. When you started out in the HVAC industry, did you ever think that someday you’d be marketing your company with online photo albums and short 140-character posts? How could you imagine any of this since Facebook and Twitter didn’t even exist back then?

I’d bet that, just like me, you assumed your days would be filled with the typical HVAC tasks you had been trained to perform. Perhaps some of the new digital roles you now have to fill, such as being a Facebook ambassador or Twitter marketer, make you uncomfortable.

Well, here’s my confession - the hardest part for me is making videos. Sometimes I think to myself that quiet former English majors should not have to be in videos. If I had wanted to be on camera, I would have majored in broadcast journalism.

But I don’t want to get left behind in the paper world, so I’m doing my best to evolve in today’s digital world, where 35 hours of video are uploaded every minute to YouTube.

The latest video project I spearheaded forThe NEWSis our soon-to-be-launched video business cards. Although I have to admit that I didn’t come up with this brilliant idea (special thanks to our sister magazineEnvironmental Design + Constructionfor passing it along to me), I did round up all ofThe NEWSeditors in the Troy office and corralled them into our video studio.

Our video business cards are short clips in which we personally introduce ourselves to our website visitors and explain what we do atThe NEWS. You’ll get to watch them and meet us virtually when our new website launches (hopefully by the end of next month).

After we had recorded all of our videos, we held a mini screening party to watch them. While some of us are much more natural on camera than others, the cool thing was that we all participated. Plus, watching each other’s videos also helped our team to learn a little more about each other.

Video business cards could also be an excellent marketing tool for HVAC businesses. Imagine a video gallery on your website with short clips from each of your technicians. Then imagine a homeowner researching your company online and clicking through the videos to figure out if she feels comfortable having your employees in her home. It would also be great to have videos of salespeople, dispatchers, and anyone else on your staff who interacts with customers.

In their videos, employees can share a little about their history in the HVAC industry and what their greatest skills are. They might tell what they like best about their jobs or include a little humor.

Of course, there are a few caveats to video business cards. You have to make sure everyone smiles. You don’t want to look too serious or scary and frighten the homeowners away. It may take some coaching and several takes to achieve this, but everyone gets better with practice.

And don’t leave yourself out - a video from the company owner explaining your business philosophy could be a great marketing and sales tool.

One final tip: A teleprompter instantly makes everyone better on camera. President Obama always needs one, and so do I.

Publication date:07/18/2011