#006: About Empathy

#006: About Empathy

I had a fun catch-up with my friend, Karen Brooks. Karen plans to pitch a TV project and wanted to use me as sounding board. Our setting was The Factory in Norwood. I had a cappuccino with a fabulous bear design! 

Making TV shows isn’t that different from starting a company. Instead of investors, you have a channel that will invest money to produce your show. Their concerns are also ROI’s – eyeballs on screen; viewers who will return regularly to watch the show. If you don’t make an emotional connection fast, the viewers probably won’t even stay for the first five minutes.

The techniques to get viewers to buy in are not that different from getting customers interested in your product or service as a company either. This was what most of our conversation was about. What’s different about the show? Why would viewers tune in to watch? To create empathy with characters or subject matter of any show, is one of the toughest challenges for a Producer. Sound familiar?

We considered top-of-mind ideas for arresting the attention of an audience at the outset of the show. Focus on one individual or event that is most likely to pull viewers. How do we build empathy with that character? We see their pain, understand their need: identify with their quest.

It could help if the hero were featured in just about every shot during the opening, so there’s no mistake as to whose story this is. Next we would employ styling, color and sound to push emotions into gear. An engaging music track would be paramount.

This got me to wonder about the elements that build empathy for products or services of a startup. While a quick Google search yields more than 34 800 000 results for customer empathy, few articles actually tell you HOW TO DO IT. 

As a TV Director, experience thought me to exercise empathy by listening to other voices and perspectives in order to design something everyone will understand. Also to remain curious and ask questions, always; It deepens your own understanding. And work with what you’ve got; show it off in the best light that you can.

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