I wonder what comes into your mind when you consider using video for a project or campaign. Perhaps you have a good relationship with video, or maybe you’re on a fairly bumpy road with it.
The most common questions and challenges I’ve heard in my 20+ year career are:
What are the latest trends we need to keep up with?
What does a good ROI look like?
What kind of videos should we make?
How will we go about making them?
These are all important and valid concerns, which I’m going to unpack below.
No one wants to be behind the curve when it comes to creativity. And it’s equally as bad to jump on a trend in the wrong way - AKA ‘cool parent syndrome’. So how do you find that happy medium?
Firstly, think of your audience – your target supporters and donors. Where do they consume videos and what sort of videos do they consume? Perhaps they’re more likely to have their heads down in a stream of TikTok videos, or perhaps they enjoy sharing videos on Facebook or are likely to visit your website wanting to find out more about your charity’s work. Context and intent are crucial.
Secondly, do some competitor research. What videos are being made in your sector today that seem to be high flyers? Note down what it is about them that resonated with you and is likely to resonate with your audience.
Thirdly, keep as fast a turnaround time as possible when making your videos. The pace of change is rapid, particularly with digital media. Just follow the speedy rise of TikTok and you’ll see what I mean. If you have a video in production for more than six months it could feel a little dated when it finally goes live. Try to keep to short production cycles.
With the pandemic came a significant shift in the acceptance of video production values. Yes, there was lower quality user-generated content before. But when Covid came along and movement became restricted with lockdowns, it became commonplace to see lower quality ‘zoom videos’ used by many of the biggest brands.
Here’s a great example from Teenage Cancer Trust of using lower quality video (mobile and webcam videos) combined with high-end production. (Trigger warning: contains scenes which some viewers may find upsetting.)
It’s true that high-end video production isn’t cheap. But it’s best to start with outcomes before practicalities. What’s your destination? What do you want to achieve with your video? Once you’ve worked this out, then see what will be needed to make it happen.
The pandemic has reinforced an important lesson in video production: it doesn’t matter how pretty or dynamic your video is, if it doesn’t communicate a message which instigates an action it’s not done its job. So think of the basic communication and storytelling principles you need to get people to respond.
It’s likely – and sensible – that your video isn’t your sole weapon in the promotion of the project or campaign you’re running. Instead it’ll be part of an integrated campaign. So consider its part in this carefully.
Finally, in terms of budgeting, you will likely want to reserve some funds for spending on ad versions of your video and boosting it on social channels.
If you’re keen to reach the right audience with the right video (hint: that’s a good plan), then you need to consider what kind of video you’ll be making. Will it be case-study led, an animated storytelling, a zoom interview that’s top and tailed with your branding, or a full on TikTok?
Circling back to the trends section above, it should be noted that vertical video (i.e. filmed in portrait as opposed to landscape) is very much on the rise – particularly with younger audiences. It’s mobile friendly and mobiles is where most video is consumed.
Many brands and some charities are leading their video campaigns now on TikTok. Both Adidas and Mercedes Benz released their latest adverts primarily in vertical format. It’s the way forward, and I wonder how long it will be before the majority of brand videos are vertical-first, such is the rate of TikTok’s growth.
But for now, if your audience is more used to traditional, landscape video then cater for that. Perhaps you have a church engagement strategy where you have the opportunity to show your videos in church services to a more captive audience. That has ramifications for how you produce your videos - for example, you can often get away with more gently undulating narrative arcs and still keep attention.
However, if you’re producing videos for social media, particularly social ads, you will need to instantly attract attention and hold it – with your branding, messaging and CTA skillfully weaved in early on. Remember, you can’t keep all this to the very end of the video as it likely won’t get seen. Use a ‘heartbeat narrative’: where smaller narrative arcs are created throughout the video, but with an overall consistent message throughout.
Finally, in a world where trust is low in the media, the charity sector – and frankly, in most parts of society – social proof is more important than ever. Using supporter videos which are authentic and a little rough around the edges can be very helpful in gaining trust and strengthening your brand. And now that the pandemic has shown we can accept lower quality examples, there really is no excuse to capture more of these.
You can create a video with a tap of your phone. Great, let’s all go home then? No, video productions, however simple or complex they are, all need serious planning and execution. Remember, you’re communicating a message to an audience who you want to actually go and do something as a result. That’s no mean feat.
It may be that you have the in-house people and resources to create your videos, or perhaps you need to look to a freelancer or agency. Whatever path you choose, you need to plan and deliver something that will achieve your objectives.
Here are a few things to think about when making your decision on in-house vs agency:
Access – you’re likely to have easier access to your video producer if they work within the same charity.
Empathy – an in-house producer should have a clearer understanding of your charity’s mission and goals
Teamwork – an in-house producer should allow improved communication with other members of staff, such as designers and copywriters, that are part of the project team.
Scope creep – you may be less inclined to chop and change requirements, if the producer is an independent contractor.
Fresh approach - agencies work across a variety of different clients, giving them plenty of opportunity to explore different approaches and bring new ideas to the table.
Specialist – it may be easier to find an external agency which has the necessary expertise to fulfil the requirements of your creative brief.
And the big one: cost – hiring an external agency may appear more expensive initially. However, this is relative when you take into account the full cost of hiring in-house staff and of purchasing any additional equipment required.
Here at Jersey Road PR, our content team is highly experienced in making videos for every purpose. Get in touch to start a conversation.
Written by Andrew Horton, Head of Content, Jersey Road PR.
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