Video is definitely a buzz word, but where to start and how to develop the type of video content that’s interesting, worthwhile and effectively markets your program while engaging your prospective student audience?
Since video is such a large topic, I’ll be doing a number of posts on video-related topics.
This article is also the first of a series that will focus on creating a Professional Introductory Video for your institution and the components that go into this fairly large-scale project.
Here’s a list of topics to be covered in future posts in the series Professional Introductory Video.
• The Initial Important Questions (This post; keep reading below!)
• Finding a Professional Videographer
• The Appeal; Engaging your Target Audience
• Developing and Managing a Filming Schedule
• The Technical Stuff
• Getting It Out to the Masses
So, you want to have a professional video?
Every institution should have both a professional introductory video and then a nice breadth of, what I like to call, organic video content they can share. Organic video is more of the homemade, handheld short clips that are so popular on the internet these days. I’ll focus on organic video content in another post.
If you don’t have one then you want one.
The professional video is a key marketing piece that serves as an introduction to your institution. This is the chance to showcase your institution in its best light (and with the professional lamps, cameras and effects it will look even better!).
The great thing about the internet is you don’t have to walk around and hand out copies of the video on VHS. People can access it from anywhere, making it easy for people to watch. I’ll talk more about viral videos and how to promote your content online later.
The Initial Important Questions
1. Length: How Long Do You Want Your Video?
I can tell you that you don’t want it longer than 5 minutes, and that’s pushing it. 3-4 minutes is best because it’s long enough to convey your important messages, but short enough to keep your audience engaged. Don’t think you can explain everything you need to in just 3 minutes?
You don’t need to.
Think of this video as a commercial for your school. Just like all advertisements you’re leaving your prospective audience with a message and a call to action. Leave them wanting more so that they visit your website or contact you by email, Facebook, Twitter or whatever social network they use.
It’s all about just the hook.
Then you or your staff can pull them in and tell them all about the juicy details once they contact you.
These days students are used to multisensory information and are too busy to sit and watch a 15 minute video about how great your school is. The first thing most young people do is look at the video bar to see the total length of the video (even I do this with my busy schedule-and I’m sure you have as well). If it’s more than 5 minutes I don’t even watch it. Really.
Again, think commercial.
2. Audience: Who is Your Target Audience?
Is your target viewing audience all prospective students or just international students?
Generally speaking, students today like fast, upbeat content; lots of flashing images, good catchy music and fast transitions. Gone are the days of the talking head (where a professor, president or someone with a title speaks to the camera at length).
If you do want to use talking heads, use them sparingly and have them be current and former students (alumni) with a 20-30 second sound byte testimonial of them praising their experience at your school. Prospective students want to hear from their peers, not the staff who get paid to work at the institution. Of course staff want new students to come the school, their job depends on new enrollment, but happy, excited students are the key to showing the success of your program.
3. Message: What are you trying to convey?
As I mentioned earlier, you’re only going to have a few minutes to get across your most important points, so choose wisely. Too many messages make for an unfocused piece. You want to pick just one or two themes and repeat them throughout to leave your audience with a clear understanding of what your institution is about.
If you’re not sure where to start, try your mission statement, core values and institutional slogans. It is good to keep your marketing message consistent so try using and integrating themes that already exist in your current promotion.
4. Usage: Where will this video reside and how will it be used?
Not like a postal address, but: On the web? On a USB? On a CD in a drawer?
I’m going to have a whole post dedicated to using and leveraging your video once it has been created, but it’s good to start thinking about this at the very beginning of the project. Some of your early project decisions will be based on how the end product will be used so it’s good to sit down with your IT team and discuss your wishes and requirements early. This way you can all be on the same page throughout the process.
5. Resources: It takes a village-or a campus.
Putting together a video is not a silo project.
You’re creating a visual piece to showcase your happy, successful community, which means you need those very members to actively participate in this project in order for it to be a success. It is essential to be on good terms with faculty, students and staff in multiple departments because you are going to need to request to film classroom shots with your dynamic instructors, student interview testimonials with your star students and maybe even ask the janitor to help you and the film crew get on the roof to get that great panoramic campus shot.
These are just a few of the key components to make your professional video project a success. If you have been through this experience and have other suggestions, please feel free to comment.
Next up: Finding a Professional Videographer.