R.I.P. Long Campaign Videos! Long live multimedia!
The traditional 8-10 minute campaign or institutional video is dead, and no one is mourning its passing. Video as a medium, however, has never been more alive. Thanks to digital technology, almost all communication devices are outfitted with cameras and basic video editing software comes standard on most computers. There are now far more cameras in the world than at any other point in history. And with social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and Vine, it's never been easier to share pictures and videos with donors and friends.
Now that many of the technical and financial challenges of using video have been mitigated, communications professionals in development and other areas have new problems to consider; namely, when and how to use video strategically.
Here are 6 considerations:
1. Pick the right medium. Just because you can use video doesn't mean you should. Ask yourself if there is a visual story that will enhance your message. If so, ask yourself whether video would be more effective than strong still photography and succinct text, or simply strong text alone. Don't make the mistake many of the online news outlets seem to be making: over saturating viewers with boring videos.
2. Tell a short story. Video is a powerful medium for storytelling. And who doesn't want to hear a good story? Most nonprofit organizations have countless compelling narratives to choose from. Capture these stories and share them broadly via social networking, or in a more targeted way through an email to a select few.
3. Raw is real. Invite your constituents to submit short videos that tell their own stories. Videos from students, patients or clients can be powerful and authentic in a way that eludes professional productions. Make sure that they keep them short (under three minutes), but don't impose too many other rules. Let them be creative!
4. Keep it short and start fast. Research conducted by Ramesh Sitarman at the University of Massachusetts found that after a two-second delay in the start of video viewers begin to jump ship en masse (20% attrition after two second delay; 50% attrition after 10 second delay). Make sure your videos start immediately with compelling visuals and, again, keep the length as short as possible!
5. Copyright and control. Be mindful of copyright laws and careful about the videos that your organization releases to the public. Once a video hits the Internet, there's no turning back. If you do solicit your constituents for video content, make sure they submit it to you for review and proper dissemination.
6. Know when to call in the pros. Just as desktop publishing only made us appreciate the value and skill of professional graphic designers and printers, video creation can also engender the same appreciation for professional video producers. When a lot is riding on your video presentation and you don't have the internal expertise, call in the pros. A nice mix of professionally produced videos with in-house pieces can be a winning video communications strategy.
Jon Kent is an award winning video producer specializing in non profit communications, he leads Vision Communications, a division of Vision Philanthropy Group.