Tribe Pictures’ Vern Oakley Addresses New Realities of Leadership Communication

Portrait of Vern Oakley

In a speech at Baruch College in New York, the veteran filmmaker and corporate video expert discussed why leaders need to convey authenticity on camera.

New York, NY – March 31st, 2016 – What does it take to achieve a sense of authenticity when leaders need to communicate on camera? That was the subject of a recent speech delivered by Vern Oakley, CEO and Creative Director of Tribe Pictures, an award-winning corporate video production company.

An acknowledged expert when it comes to coaxing authentic performances out of business, corporate and educational leaders, Oakley shared insights and experiences in a talk entitled “Nowhere to Hide: Leadership Communication and the New New Authenticity.

The speech was delivered to members of the New York Speechwriters Roundtable and the Corporate Communications International program of Baruch College/City University of New York. The setting was the Newman Vertical Campus of Baruch College on the East Side of Manhattan.

As Oakley points out, video has become ubiquitous in today’s society. “In the corporate world, the use of video to help CEOs and other top leaders connect with their stakeholders has exploded in popularity,” he comments. “We’ve been carefully tracking this trend and shared with the audience different ways in which authentic communication can humanize and strengthen leadership in today’s climate of transparency.”

Oakley revealed how working as a theatre director led to a passion for coaxing honest and believable performances out of actors. Since transitioning from the world of drama, television and feature films into corporate video, he’s worked with numerous leaders at Fortune 500 companies, ranging from CEOs to heads of Corporate Communications, Human Resources, Investor Relations, Marketing and other disciplines.

“What we’ve found over the years is that today, nobody needs a video,” he told his audience. “Rather, when corporate clients have communications problems, what they need are solutions. And in today’s digital world, those solutions can often take their most powerful form in video.”

Oakley screened a variety of video clips to serve as case studies for the points made during the speech, including snippets of “The West Wing” as well as segments showing leaders or employees of such companies as Coty, Hess, Mondelez, KPMG and others.

Among the points stressed were that leaders who convey a sense of authenticity in their on-camera performances can positively impact everything from staff morale to recruitment to a company’s valuation in the financial markets. “Today’s leaders have to express their humanity and vulnerability so audiences can believe they’re authentic and easily relate to them,” Oakley told the corporate communications professionals and speechwriters in the audience. “Helping them get there is a journey for all of us in this room.”

The speech marked Oakley’s return to the Baruch campus, where he was an Adjunct Professor in the school’s graduate corporate communication program at the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences and taught a course titled “Strategy and Storytelling: Video and Graphics for Corporate Communication.”

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“It’s one thing to understand the role of video in business communication, it’s another to know how to use video to solve actual business problems. Vern Oakley gets that.”


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