You want an engaging video to enhance your next campaign. You’ve gotten past the “everyone else is doing it” approach and you understand what video can and can’t do for you. Now where do you start? This article will highlight steps for planning and production – whether you’re hiring a professional or doing it yourself.
For fun we’ll call this an infographic – made for a DIY video session at a Minnesota Council of Nonprofits conference. That’s Xavier Lopez-Ayala’s boss Biscuit overseeing the process.
Video has unique strengths in communicating emotion and empathy. While facts and figures are unlikely to stick with your audience, they will be left with a feeling for the organization, the issue, the work. This touchy-feely graphic glow wants to make sure that everything you do in this project is centered on and motivated by “that feeling“. You can’t go wring with “that feeling“. The other feeling yes, but not that one.
As with any significant project, you need to know what your goals are. What is the purpose of the video? What outcomes are you looking for? Who are you trying to reach, and what effect do you want to have on them?
Think about your audiences and how they will experience the video in relation to your overall marketing or a specific campaign. Is “that feeling” relevant to all audiences?
Think, write, scrawl, or draw your way to a clear, concise statement of the goals for the project.
Think about various approaches to the project; take a little time to question assumptions you may have. Ask your cohorts and especially members of your audience for input. You may be able to genuinely and effectively reach your people better with an unedited talk through a webcam or phone than with a complex animated sequence. Will the approach and style reach your audience and compel them to help, give, spread the word?
Personal bias alert: I think video should be as genuine and direct as possible – using the medium to speak through rather than to the technology. Natural sound unencumbered by background music; real conversation, real people. As soon as a viewer notices a special effect or gimmick, their attention goes there rather than to that feeling. OK, I did the personal bias.
Now it’s time to think backwards a bit. How will you get your video – and other campaign components – in front of the right eyeballs? Will there be in-person events, a webpage layout including YouTube video, references to or from other campaign elements? How will your video work best within these contexts? How will you promote these outlets?
Take stock of the resources you have – these could include:
- staff or volunteer time and skills
- professional help aligned with your vision and style
- proposals for any outside help
- dedicated project funding
- any needed higher-up approvals
- anything else that’s standing between you and a finished product.
If you turn up short, you may need to budget and raise funds specifically for the campaign project. Often a committed donor will see the multiplier effect in supporting a good campaign project.
The squiggly line comes from the perspective of a narration-free documentary producer, with “scriptwriting” hanging between planning and production. A tightly scripted video will have more of a chronological progression from script to preparation to shooting to editing. How this plays out is heavily dependent on the project, the style, and the people involved – hence I’ll spare the details here.
Now you get to put into action the distribution you carefully planned – didn’t you? Again the details will vary, but keep your target audience in mind. Are you reaching them? Are you using your social media, direct mail, whatever tools are at your disposal to make sure the right people see it? Even if your project goes viral in the general public, if the right people don’t see it then the goals won’t be met.
Assess – in whatever way is meaningful to you – and gloat over the results. And follow the dotted line to put what you’ve learned back into the next project.
This is a general view of a production process – the basic process should apply to most projects. Beyond that, common sense and a thorough understanding of the org or issue, the messages, and the audience will get you through a process which could take between a few hours and several months.
Good luck and good skill, and stay in touch “that feeling“!