Most leaders are hesitant to appear on camera—it’s normal. But a good video team can change that, making it possible for you to use this vital tool in ways you never thought possible.
Here's what a good video communication team can do for you:
Creating a winning website is one of the most exciting and high-impact marketing tools you will make. And getting more than you paid for is the best outcome!
As a client, you don't often realize how much you can do to help make this happen. The place to start is with an understanding about how web vendors estimate their costs and manage the project. Your web vendor typically allocates a set number of hours to create your new website.
Image matters. In fact, sometimes it isn’t even the best idea that wins in the marketplace, but the idea that is told in the most compelling way and reaches the right people.
As an entrepreneur or small business owner, it’s impossible to have expertise in every area of your business—legal, human resources, finance, marketing.
Getting Your Annual Report Read (An Illustrated Guide)
Your annual report may be your most important communication tool—and for good reason.
It offers an snapshot of company performance, shows how you are creating value for all of your stakeholders, and offers a glimpse into the passion and purpose that drives your organization.
Get the talking points or video goals to the interviewer (crew) well before the shoot. This gives the interviewer time to think about how to best draw out the story.
Give the interviewee time to think about his/her content and the purpose of the interview. Make sure they know going in what to expect and how to prepare.
Allow adequate time. Depending on the piece, 30–60 minutes may work. (The crew can tell you what’s needed for your particular project.) We usually book an interview with extra time in case the person is late or has to leave early, since rushing an interview almost always results in a quality compromise.
Reserve a space for the interview that gives options on the set-up. Look for things like:
Natural light (and windows with shades that can be used to control the light)
Interesting textures as background—brick walls, nice windows, or architectural details
Interesting furnishing elements, art, or plants
Does it contribute context?
Sound control. Good audio is essential to a good video—so make sure the room has a door and isn’t near a noisy location, like an elevator or a highly traveled hallway.
Enough space. It’s best not to film a person sitting right up against a wall, as having depth is important. Aim for a space that has at least 15’ in depth. That gives the crew room to make the set-up more interesting and keep it from looking like the dreaded driver’s license photo.
B-roll is supplemental footage that may or may not have sound. It’s often used to intercut with the interview, to bring a story to life, and to cover edits.
Time. It’s easy for a crew to feel rushed when they’re intruding on a work space. But allowing a bit of time to set up the shot and shoot it is essential to getting good footage.
Focal point. Having one prominent element of interest in the shot guides the viewer’s eye.
Good lighting. Natural light is great, but isn’t always available. Having the time to light the shot is important if natural light isn’t available.
Close-ups. Sometimes showing just a piece of the story (hands, an object on a desk that reveals something of the person being interviewed) is powerful. You don’t need to tell the whole story in every image—just evoke a piece of it.
Whenever possible, it’s best to avoid them if you’re going for a natural, comfortable style. In some cases, where language must be precise (such as when there are legal considerations), a teleprompter can be helpful, but there is usually a tradeoff in the overall tone. If you’re looking for an authentic, personal interview, teleprompters generally disappoint. Our crew is very comfortable drawing out a story from people who aren't accustomed to being on camera, so we generally prefer this option.
Our crew generally conducts the interview, but you’re welcome to if you have experience doing this and would prefer to.
This varies widely by project. It’s not uncommon for us to shoot a 20–40 minute interview that gets cut down to two minutes. That doesn’t include another 20–60 minutes of b-roll.
It depends on the project. Person-on-the-street interviews can happen almost instantly once they are set up.
An update from an executive can take 30–60 minutes. An interview for a story can take 30–60 minutes, depending on the video’s desired length. Allow an additional 30 minutes for set-up (depending on conditions) prior to the interviewee arriving—and another 15 minutes for take-down.
Scripts make for efficient delivery of content, and are generally used when you need an audio-only portion of the video. CMBell employs script writers who are experienced in writing for this specific application—as it is different than other kinds of writing.
Generally speaking, people who aren’t trained actors have difficulty delivering a script in a believable way. Unless it is a situation with legal concerns, where the language must be precise, we prefer to conduct an interview using talking points.
Create a bulleted list of ideas you want to cover. Things like “Top priority: Increase quality scores by 20%” work as great prompts for both interviewee and interviewer.
Include hard-to-remember data (if any) so that we can prompt the interviewee if that information isn’t top-of-mind.
List talking points in order of priority. Talking points are used by the editors (who are often a different team than the videographers and interviewers) to ensure that the client’s points are all made. If the video has a time limit, sometimes this means deleting content. Prioritized lists help the editors know which things must be in, and which are optional.
Provide any background stories or videos that have been developed on the topic.
Provide a script or send the talking points in prose form using full sentences and paragraphs. This makes it harder for both the interviewer and the interviewee, who need to maintain eye contact.
Provide the talking points the day of the shoot. Both the interviewer and interviewee benefit from time to think about the content.
Change the talking points substantially after submitted.
The purpose of the project.
How long the interview will be.
What kinds of things will be explored in the interview (talking points).
They can prepare by reviewing the questions and purpose in advance. It can be helpful to write something out to help them think about their message before the shoot, but they should not plan to memorize or read what they write.
Wear what they’d normally wear in their work or life (depending on the story). If they’re in uniform at work generally, they should appear that way in the video (as a bonus, uniforms provide instant credibility).
Camera lights tend to wash out faces. Participants who normally wear make-up may wish to bring along any make-up to touch up before the shoot. Generally, we do not have make-up artists at the shoot.
Avoid excess in apparel and accessories. Stay away from large wild patterns and wrinkled or worn clothing (for professionals) if a professional look is desired.
There will be a professional team there to guide them through the interview. Our job is to make them feel at ease, explain the process, and draw the story out from them. We’re patient and try to give them as much time as needed to deliver their message.
We will do multiple takes to ensure we get the best one—so there’s no pressure to be “perfect.”
Be yourself. Authenticity is more important than getting everything precisely right.
The client is always responsible for obtaining and archiving release forms. Additionally, the client is responsible for ensuring HIPAA compliance if the shoot is health care related. This means paying attention to content that is being shot and reviewing the edit to ensure that no HIPAA violations have occurred.
If shooting in a health care setting, patient care is always first. We are accustomed to working around the complexities of health care and are respectful of your first obligations.
Keep the set quiet. It’s especially important to have 2–3 seconds of silence before and after each interview question is completed, to allow the editors content to work with.
Save questions and comments for the end. Sometimes it is best to run through the entire interview and keep the momentum of the story going—as it preserves the energy.
Plan on multiple takes. We generally take safety shots (extra takes) that allow us to have additional options for our editors.
Determining the message and goals of the project.
Providing talking points, if the video calls for them.
Doing a pre-interview with our crew to discuss the elements of the story.
Finding and securing shoot location(s).
Arranging for interviewees.
Acting as site navigator—escorting and introducing the crew and setting expectations for participants.
Getting and storing release forms from anyone in the shoot.
Ensuring HIPAA compliance.
Providing additional assets—photos, existing b-roll if you have some—that flesh out the story visually.
Reviewing the video for accuracy and seeing that anyone who needs to be involved in the review is.
Being the single point of contact for CMBell and supplying all changes to us directly, rather than delivering them through multiple sources.
Yes. The biggest thing is to review it carefully at each step of the way, since a video is produced in a sequence which each layer building on the previous one. Changes to the audio that come late in the process, for example, can mean substantial edits. Think of it as deciding to move a wall in a new home in the painting phase. It's much more expensive to do so then than it would be to do so when the house plan is being reviewed.
A local shelter came to us looking for ways to support their largest fundraising campaign in history—a new facility for women and children looking to transition from homelessness to lives of self-sufficiency. Their story is powerful, but they needed a way to tell it more broadly, and that’s how this video was born.
Video is an ideal tool for fundraisers because it:
Inspires action. It uses the power of images, sound, and music to evoke the emotion that prompts a potential donor to care about what you’re doing—and ultimately, to give. Most often, people first make decisions with their heart, and then their mind, and no amount of persuasive text can touch the heart like a well-done video.
Conveys need. Video brings real struggles to life and establish the need that drives your project.
Brings a vision to life. It can cast the vision for a real solution better than any other medium, bringing to life a picture of what your cause will help to achieve.
Is personal. There’s nothing as compelling as the story of someone who has been changed or helped by your work.
Works in many applications. It can take your story to any place that can play video—the home of a prospective donor, your own website, or a local meeting or event.
Is more likely to reach your audience. Video is increasingly the medium of choice, so it’s more likely to get viewed and remembered.
But video production can be overwhelming if you haven’t done a lot of it. Here’s what you can do to get the video that will work for you.
Outline the problem your project will solve. Include statistics and stories.
Make it about what your donors care about. Make it clear to donors what investing in your cause will do for them.
Have a well-articulated vision. What will be different when your project is funded? What will the destination of this journey look like? How will it change lives for the better?
Know your audience. Know what they care about, what motivates them, and what could turn them off.
Have a call to action. Make it easy for people to take the next step, be it asking for more information or giving.
Know where video fits in your strategy. How will it link to other communication tools—both in terms of story and look?
Pick the right people. If it’s interview-driven, the people chosen will make all the difference. Does their story include struggle and hope? Can they share it on-camera? They don’t need to be performers—it’s better if they are not—but they do need to have a story that a good video crew can draw out.
Provide good logistic support. Getting your crew access to places that help tell your story will improve it visually, and creating a schedule that has everything ready for your crew when they show up will save you money in the long run and help you get better footage.
Know and communicate your budget. There are many video companies to choose from, but making your budget clear up-front can help you narrow the playing field and eliminate bad surprises.
Inform yourself about your video vendor. Look at their work to see if it fits your organization. Talk to a client of theirs to see what working with the firm was like. If it’s a larger firm, make sure the people working on your project are the ones who did the projects you especially liked.
Have a plan for distribution. This is the most overlooked part of video strategy we encounter. Your video is an investment that should work for you in many applications. Use it on all your website and social media channels, deliver it via email to your donor list, post it on your blog, show it at events, show it at personal "asks", and link it to appropriate sites.
Don’t worry about it going viral. It’s extremely difficult to get videos to go viral—and going viral doesn’t mean more people will give to your cause. Getting your video in front of 50 qualified donors is more important than having it reach 50,000 people who aren’t ever going to support your cause.
Measure and learn. This probably won’t be your last video. So watch your analytics, but more importantly, watch for results. One of the videos we produced for a client was shown at an event and a donor in the audience wrote a check for $25,000. In the end, likes and shares are interesting, but gives are the best metric.
Great videos change people’s minds and motivate them to take action. Why shouldn’t you be using this tool to solicit support for your cause?
It’s no news that having someone outside your organization speak on your behalf brings credibility to your message.
In doing this, you import the brand attributes of the person delivering the testimony. So whether it’s a patient, customer, celebrity or donor, make the effective testimonial a part of your arsenal of communication tools.
Besides deepening bonds between your organization and its advocates, testimonials have an added benefit: When people agree to speak on behalf of your company, they are taking ownership and investing in your success.
Need some inspiration? >>
Renown boxer Oscar De La Hoya, a generous supporter of this hospital, talks about what the hospital means to his family and his community in this short video testimonial.
A well-known community leader in Colorado talks about what this hospital means to his community.
A respected community leader and hospital board chair advocates for this hospital’s work in Colorado.
This hospital bought TV ad spots during the Olympics and used real people to tell their unique story. Pairing voice-overs with still images, this black-and-white ad was part of an ad campaign that unpacked 100 reasons to count on this community hospital.
Let a well-known local family talk about their multi-generational relationship with your business, like this community hospital did.