Move over, Shark Week, the media waters are about to host a newer kind of infestation. GE is combining two recent trends — drones and Periscope — to host its first-ever weeklong live streaming extravaganza this week. It is called, naturally, #Droneweek.
#Droneweek is the conglomerate’s latest endeavor to educate, entertain and make its scientific and industrial capabilities relatable to a millennial audience. Through this week, users who tune in to GE’s Periscope account (@GeneralElectric) will get a live drone’s-eye view of its jet engines, locomotives, wind turbines and other machinery located across its facilities in Texas, Ohio, California and South Carolina. The effort is being coordinated with help from the Barbarian group.
Interviews and expert commentary from GE’s scientists and technologists will accompany sweeping aerial shots through a separate Periscope account, @GEDronePilot, which will act as a tour guide and supplement the drone feed with written comments on the video stream. The video stream and the commentary will work together to demonstrate how GE tackles the aviation, oil and gas, power and water, renewable energy and transportation industries through the machinery shown, and users can respond and ask questions in real time too.
#Droneweek kickstarted in Texas yesterday, giving nearly 6,500 fans a glimpse into the oil and gas sector. It featured GE’s Blow-Out-Preventer manufacturing facility in Houston, which produces subsea machines that control pressure in extreme deep-sea drilling environments.
“When you give people a peek behind the curtain, they fall in love with the company,” said Sam Olstein, GE’s director of innovation. “We’re treating it as a weeklong show where we stitch together a narrative to demonstrate the scale, size and impact of our machines.”
#Droneweek, like most of its other efforts, also doubles up as a way to attract future talent for GE, so it is ensuring that it has its advocates among the younger generation. The company’s millennial interns are at the forefront of #Droneweek and will be introducing the facilities as well as themselves in the streams.
“To provide breakthrough innovations we need to recruit the same people that a Facebook, Google and Microsoft will go after,” said Olstein. “We want to inspire them to participate in things that actually matter.”
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#Droneweek represents the next step in the evolution of the company’s video strategy, which includes already-popular work on Vine, Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube in recent years. Since 2005, GE has collaborated with various YouTube influencers to craft fun yet informational content. Recently, it even brought a “Creator-in-Residence,” Oxford biology PhD candidate Sally Le Page, in-house to help curate and produce a new series of videos.
On Vine, it created the Cannes-winning #6SecondScience series and for Snapchat, the millennial-bait Emoji Science Lab series. It is also extending its video efforts to television, partnering with Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment as well as “30 For 30″ to create a six-episode documentary series on National Geographic Channel, starting this November.
“Video is one of the best formats today for storytelling,” said Olstein. “But the media landscape today is so incredibly fragmented that we need to be discoverable wherever there is an audience.”