Storytelling in a Visual Medium

Earlier this week I participated in a video training to learn the techniques of messaging with video, video production and storytelling in a visual medium. Leading this training was Jen Caltrider, executive producer at ProgressNow and former CNN producer.

Lesson 1:
We learned that producing a video for a campaign or your organization is like a game of Mouse Trap. The video is the cheese that leads the mouse to the “trap” or your goal of the campaign. Now, I’m confident none of us are trying to “trap” our volunteers, donors, members, etc. but you get the idea. Video should be used as an element to lead the viewer to the action you want them to take. (Jen – thanks for the great analogy!)

Lesson 2:
Any nonprofit can make a video, even if you don’t have a video camera or a large budget to purchase a camera. Most cell phones have video camera features and most digital cameras have video capability. If your organization does have a small budget to purchase a video camera, we shared a blog earlier this year about the Flip Video Spotlight program, which is an inexpensive option for eligible nonprofits. Or you can produce a video that utilizes photos, graphics and voiceovers and never leave your office!

Lesson 3:
Before jumping to the filming or editing process,the most important element to any video campaign is determining your goal. Before developing a video, you want to sit down and decide the goal you are trying to achieve, who your audience is, and the time you have available to produce the video.

After Jen enlightened us with her video expertise, she let us loose to produce a video. The three groups each had their own goal, target audience and campaign strategy. Here is what my group was challenged to do. The goal: Shorten summer break by two weeks. The strategy: Develop a video for a Facebook and/or Twitter campaign to shorten summer break. The target audience: Males ages 25 – 44.

Although my two teammate and I had never produced a video before, we jumped into the process and are proud of what could be accomplished in just 5 short hours! The great thing is you don’t have to be an expert to produce a video, and there’s a great chance your computer already has video editing software (Apple – iMovie and PCs – Windows Movie Maker). This was our first time using iMovie and were happy to learn it is very user-friendly.

To find tips, case studies and best practices for video, See 3 is an excellent resource for nonprofits and foundations. Also Kivi’s Nonprofit Communication Blog did a great blog post in March about video production tips.

Has your nonprofit experimented with video? How was the experience developing the video? What tips and tricks do you have to share?

Submitted by Lisa Sommer

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2 Responses

  1. [...] you do a podcast you talk to your audience. But since it is not a visual medium, they will have to use their imagination to “see” what you are talking about. But to do [...]

  2. [...] print or web publishing (Blog: Nonprofits and Photosharing) 3. Look for video opportunities (Blog: Storytelling in a Visual Medium) 4. Join MNA’s Media Query Email List – (Sorry, for MNA members only) Receive email [...]

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