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Basketball Legend, Class Guy, T60 Customer

Well, like millions of other people I’m searching for a tissue after watching Budwesier’s tribute to retiring NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade. Awesome stuff… and while most everyone can admire his greatness from afar, I’m honored to say I got to see it up-close and personal for a day.

That’s because Dwyane has been a T60 customer.

Here’s the story. I knew someone who worked for his agent back in 2007, so when the subject of shooting video at his annual basketball camp came up… my friend threw T60 into the conversation.

We got the job in large part because he wasn’t the first NBA All-Star we worked for. We had already produced a couple of videos for Chris Bosh (another class-act), but this shoot was a little different.

I’ve been fortunate over the course of my life to meet and be around some gigantic sports legends.

Muhammad Ali once turned to me during a photo shoot and jokingly sparred with me.

Yeah… you don’t get any bigger than that.

So… I’m not easily star-struck by athletes, and that was true when it came to D-Wade as well. However, I was pretty psyched about producing the video, and I walked away in awe of how he handled himself and a fan for life.

I had been to many athletic camps like his over the years and here’s what typically happens. Tons of kids attend, the star athlete shows-up toward the end, gives a little speech and hits the road. Maybe he or she takes a few photos with the kids.

That’s it.

Which is why you can imagine my surprise when I arrived before the event began, and Dwyane was already there. We chatted off-camera for a bit, and I put a wireless microphone on him. I told him, don’t worry about me, just do what you would normally do at the camp.

Remember, I was just expecting a little speech at the end.

I started shooting video of the kids going through drills… shooting, defense, you name it. All of a sudden, I hear Dwyane through my headphones because he had on the wireless mic, and it sounded like he was talking to some kids.

I start looking around the gym, and not only was he chatting with the kids… he was doing drills with them!

He was shooting, guarding them, hanging out with them, talking with them… he just looked like he was part of the group. The best part? It wasn’t an act for the camera. He was just having fun.

During a break, I told him he surprised me by jumping in with the kids. He kind of shrugged and said, “Just doing what I do, like you said.”

Awesome.

The rest of the day was more of the same. The kids LOVED him, and it was easy to see why. He was totally genuine and it showed.

I walked away from the shoot a huge fan.

After having seen the video we produced for him, I’ve had more than one person ask, “Is he really that good of a guy?”

If you’ve seen the new Budwesier video, you now know the answer to that one.

Yes, he is.

Dwyane Wade is special beyond the basketball court, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.

–Tony Gnau

Practical Tips for DYI Corporate Videos

One of the great things about producing corporate video these days is you don’t need a pro to do it. Wait… did I really just write that? I am a video producer after all. Maybe I should re-think this.

No… it’s true. You do not need a video pro to produce your videos. In most cases, you should want a pro, but you technically do not need one.

If you’re interested in finding out when it’s okay to produce DIY corporate videos and when it’s not, your should check out our guide: How-to Produce Better DIY Videos

Now, should you choose to shoot your own videos, here are some tips for producing more professional-looking DIY corporate videos.

A side note, I first started outlining these thoughts for one of the PR industry’s best blogs, Spin Sucks.

Tip: camera position

When setting up to shoot an interview or yourself for a talk-to-camera video, make sure your camera lens isn’t too low. Many people who shoot video of themselves flip open their laptop, adjust the tilt to frame themselves, and then hit record.

The #1 thing you can do to improve the way you look in your videos is to stop doing this!

Shooting from a low angle tends to be very unflattering unless it’s a highly stylized perspective.

You want the camera lens to be even with your eyes or slightly higher. Think about how you take a selfie! Prop-up the laptop or camera on some books. Lower your chair a bit. You will look so much better.

Still not sure if you have the right angle? If you can see the crease where the wall meets the ceiling in your shot, your camera is too low!

Tip: lights, camera, action

Make sure you have good lighting. Most people just use the existing light in the room. They don’t think of the source location of the light in respect to their camera.

Position your light source to be right behind the camera lens and slightly above it. Think about all of those mobile news cameras you see on TV. Their lights are right on top of the camera pointing down at the people they’re recording.

If you can’t manage that, put the light just to the left or right of the camera… the closer to the lens the better.

Also, if your camera situation is mobile, set it up in front of a window. Natural light is AWESOME to light people on-camera.

A side note on lighting… maybe the worst scenario is when the room is fairly dark and the light from a computer screen is illuminating the person in front of the web camera. It will make you look… creepy. Avoid that at all costs.

Tip: perfect posture

Pick the right chair for interviews or talk-to-camera videos. Comfortable, fluffy chairs are no good. Chairs with high backs that can be seen in the shot are no good.

I tend to look for the most uncomfortable chair in the room (a metal folding chair is great!) and use that.

Why? It forces you to sit with good posture. Sit-up, smile, and be the star that you are!

Tip: don’t ignore audio

There are several ways to spot an amateur video, but for us pros… the easiest way to tell is by listening to it.

Amateurs get so wrapped-up in making sure their video looks good, they neglect audio and it’s a big mistake. Bad audio can take a perfectly good video and spoil the whole thing.

Buy a microphone. You don’t have to invest a ton of money here, but every dollar you spend on audio is an investment in your finished video seeming more professional.

I love clip-on lavalier microphones for interviews and someone talking to the camera, but even getting a mini shotgun mic to attach to your camera will go a long way to improving your audio.

Tip: how-to frame your shots

Framing every shot the same way is another rookie mistake.

Videography is an art form. It takes a keen eye and lots of practice to master it. However, there are certain things you can do as an amateur to shoot better video.

The easiest one is to simply think about how you’re framing your shots. If they’re all a medium shot with your subject in the middle of the frame… you’re doing it wrong.

Think wide, medium, tight.

Let’s say you’re shooting video of someone working on a computer. First, shoot a wide shot of them where you see them with the whole room around them.

Next, get a shot of them that only shows them and the desk.

Finally, get a couple of tight shots… like their hands typing on the keyboard and their face as they look at the monitor.

Getting this series of shots will help BIG TIME when you go to edit.

Also, don’t be afraid to arrange the subject on different sides of the screen.

Think of your viewfinder in terms of thirds… left, middle, right. Shooting your subject on either side, as opposed to the center, often creates more appealing shots.

This is an especially good tip for framing interviews, whether the subject is talking directly to the camera, or off-camera in more of an interview style.

Make sure they’re not right in the middle of the frame. Slightly off-set them from the center.

Tip: keep your camera steady

I’ll put it this way… your tripod is your friend.

Pros who shoot a lot of handheld video (myself included), do so with purpose. It’s a stylized look that is the result of years of practice. It’s a far cry from the amateur who is trying to hold the camera steady and failing.

Don’t have a tripod? Get one. Same rule as buying the microphone I mentioned above. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just something that will keep your camera steady.

Master shooting off a tripod first, then you can learn to shoot handheld video.

BONUS TIP!

If you are shooting video using your mobile phone, turn the phone on its side so your aspect ratio is horizontal, not vertical. Do not contribute to vertical video syndrome!

They only time vertical video is acceptable is if you’re shooting for a specific channel that uses vertical video, like Snapchat or Instagram.

–Tony Gnau

How-To Produce Better DIY Marketing Videos

If you’re a marketer who hasn’t embraced video and everything it can do for a company or brand, what’s the hang-up? Cost? Sure, video does have the potential to break the budget, but there are also plenty of ways to create low cost videos including DIY marketing videos.

Will wonders never cease?! A video producer advocating DIY videos?! Yup, although, I do have some special criteria before I grant you permission to create your own videos:

  • If you have zero marketing budget or you’re a start-up
  • If you are a kitschy company and your customers/clients know this about you
  • If you’re producing short videos for social media like Facebook Live or Instagram

Let’s break down and then I’ll give you some solid tips on how to improve the look and feel of your DIY videos.

Zero Marketing Budget

Whether you’re a part of a small business or a start-up just getting off the ground, I know there are plenty of companies out there that don’t have much of a marketing budget. In many cases, you don’t have a single dollar advocated toward marketing.

While I think everyone should be thinking about marketing and willing to at least spend something on it, that’s a topic for another day. However, if this is the position you find yourself in, by all means create your own videos.

Create a basic “About Us” video. Take people behind the scenes of your company and show what you do everyday and how you do it. Introduce the people working at the company.

There are all sorts of videos that can help market your business.

Kitschy Company

If a lot of people at the company wear t-shirts and jeans to work… you might work at a kitschy company. If you have a ping-pong table or video game center at the office and people use them… you might work at a kitschy company. If the release of a new Star Wars movie warrants a day-off, you might work at a kitschy company. (FYI… that one happens to be true at T60)

Kitschy companies get a special pass when it comes to DYI marketing videos. They can get away with videos that look less polished because they can chalk it up to their company culture.

They don’t have to worry about ruining their reputation with an amateur-looking video. Their customers just know this is who they are, and they love that about them.

Facebook Live and Instagram

No, you don’t have to hire a video pro to produce live and short social media videos. These are videos that in many cases are meant to be less polished.

The appeal of live videos are that they’re happening right now, not that you have perfect lighting. The appeal of a short social media post is providing a snippet, not an in-depth or intricate story.

DIY is just fine in these circumstances.

Doing Better DIY Marketing Videos

Now, for those you ready to take-on a DIY marketing video project, I have some practical tips for you to follow.

  1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. One of my mom’s favorite expressions is perfect for this first time. Don’t do too much, keep it simple. You may have the tools to produce a  video (smart phone or DSLR camera, editing software), but that doesn’t mean you’re an expert at using them. It takes dedication and years of experience to hone your skills as a videographer and editor. Especially if you’re a newbie, I recommend starting with some basic videos. A vlog is a great place to start. Simply put someone on-camera and have them talk about their views on subjects facing your industry, and maybe how your company is handling them. These videos are easy to shoot and edit.
  2. The dead giveaway of an amateur production… bad lighting, bad sound, and a shaky camera. You probably don’t have a video light kit. That’s okay. If you’re shooting a vlog or an interview-style shot, move a regular lamp in front of the subject, just out of frame. No lamp? Position them in front of a window so the natural light is on their face. The idea is don’t rely on the overhead lights in the room.
  3. Next, let’s address the sound issue. The microphone on your smartphone is… okay at best. The build-in mic on DSLRs… terrible. Do yourself a big favor and buy an inexpensive lapel microphone that you can plug into the camera and clip on your subject.
  4. Another worthwhile investment is a tripod. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but you want a nice stable platform for your camera. You can always look for ways to prop-up your camera on things you have available, but once you do… hands-off! Try not to touch the camera while it’s recording.
  5. Speaking of setting-up the camera… try not to leave too much headroom. There can be a little space between the top of the frame and the subject’s head, but just a little. Even chopping-off a tad of the top of their head is preferred to a big gap. Also, position them in the frame slightly off-center, and for crying out loud… NO VERTICAL VIDEO! Video screens are horizontal, so if you’re using a smartphone turn it on its side while you shoot video. The only exception… if you’re shooting for a platform like SnapChat that encourages vertical video.

One Last Thing

Finally, temper your expectations and have patience. Shooting and editing will probably take you longer than anticipated. Don’t sweat it… this isn’t your expertise. The more you do it, the more efficient you’ll get at the process.

And remember, your DIY marketing video is not going to measure-up to the professional corporate videos you’ve seen. It just isn’t, so don’t hold yourself to that standard.

Finally, if you’re not happy with what you’ve put together, find yourself a pro to produce it for you. It might cost you less than you think. Companies like ours are willing to take on small budget projects. We even have a specific process for producing high quality, low cost videos called 3-Step Storytelling.

The Home Stretch

These tips will certainly help your production, but chances are you’re not going to fool anyone into thinking a pro produced them. As long as you fall into my DIY criteria stated above… that’s totally fine. Don’t try to fool them. Own the fact that you DIY your videos.

Better to own it, than have people think you’re trying to be something you’re not.

So… what are you waiting for?!

Is It A Good Time To Be A Marketer?

Experience Inbound… what a great conference! For those of you who attended, I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did. For those of you who are, like, what’s Experience Inbound? It was a two-day, two-city marketing conference in Wisconsin (at Lambeau Field and Miller Park, cool, right?!) that I had the pleasure of speaking at last week.

I did put together a little video (below). Sam Mallikarjunan from HubSpot inspired it when he talked about scaring us with the first half of his presentation and then giving us hope in the second half.

I’m a half-full type of guy, so the second half rang true for me. Which is why for the video, I pulled aside some of my fellow speakers and asked them a simple question: is it a good time to be a marketer? I hope you enjoy their answers.

My Biggest Takeaways

Sam Mallikarjunan (HubSpot) – a couple of things hit me with Sam’s presentation. The whole notion of asking yourself what’s the thing I do that someone else couldn’t do without adopting the same cost structure. That totally got me thinking about my business! Also, when he talked about when you’re good at keeping customers, you have money to acquire more customers.

Andy Crestodina (Orbit Media Studios) – I’m lucky to call this guy a friend. I’ve see Andy speak about eight times, and I aways come away with something new. Selfishly, I LOVED that he told everyone that a video testimonial is the best conversion tool out there. Cha-ching! :-) Things he talked about that I’ll now be checking on my company site… counting the number of unsupported marketing claims we make, as well as keeping in mind the idea of structuring pages using prominence, promise, and proof.

Britney Muller (Moz) – SEO talks make my head spin sometimes. It’s crazy how quickly things are changing out there. I’m always looking for tools to help with SEO and digital marketing in general, so I loved that Britney gave us some good ones. I’ve been starting to dabble in Facebook ads, so when she mentioned AdEspresso it totally got my attention!

Content Goodies

Finally, for anyone who attended my presentation on video storytelling, or for those of you who missed it (for shame!), don’t forget about the resources page I put together for you. There’s some helpful stuff there for anyone interested in video marketing!

Can’t Have A Successful Marketing Video Without This

Can't Have A Successful Marketing Video Without ThisMarketing videos are fun. Lights, camera, action!… exciting, right? At the end of production, businesses are left with something awesome. A tool they can use to help sell, to build enthusiasm for a brand, improve team morale… there are many uses.

However, the problem some business leaders face is they forget that making the video is only part of the process. Lights, camera, action is fun, but there are other things that need to be done along the way. Steps that need to be taken, questions that need to be asked, to turn that video into a success.

In my initial meeting with clients I ask questions like: What’s your goal for the video? How do you plan to promote the video?

You’d be surprised how many people haven’t considered those questions. They might have considered video production cost, but not what they’ll need for ROI.

Video is simply a marketing tactic. A very good marketing tactic, but a tactic nonetheless. It needs to be a part of a broader marketing strategy to make it a true success. And within that strategy, you have to have a plan for your video(s).

Video needs to be a part of a broader marketing strategy to make it a true success. Click To TweetThe following are some pre and post-production video marketing basics with insights from pros who know what it takes to produce successful videos. The experts weigh in on two things you should do before you start the production process (set goals and find a story to tell) and two things you should do when editing is complete (promote and track).

gini-dietrich1 (1)Gini Dietrich | Founder, Spin Sucks

Why is it important to set goals for videos? What are some of the goals you’ve seen used for videos that have been helpful?

I’ll give you an example: We have a client that has 20 executives around the globe. They were all together about a year ago and the chief marketing officer wanted to get them on video, but she didn’t have a reason for doing so. She just wanted to ask them all a list of questions, but had no idea what the end product would look like. And, though we tried to bring some planning to it, she ignored our counsel and went forward with a set of 15 questions for each executive.

Today we have all of that content, but nothing to do with it because there wasn’t a plan in advance. I’m sure we’ll be able to edit it into smaller pieces eventually, but a year later, we’re still struggling with what to do with it.

Always have a plan. Set goals. Don’t create 15 questions for 20 people. But do know what you want to achieve.

In many cases, the goals are simple: Create a link between our employees and our vision or connect our vision to our external audiences. Because 65 percent of human beings are visual learners—and because of the gigantic rush to do live video right now—it’s pretty easy to see why you’d want to use video. Figure out what you want to achieve with it.

Perhaps it’s to build loyalty and pride among your employees. Maybe it’s to provide a charismatic executive a platform for thought leadership. Or it could be a way to connect employees and customers globally without the advantage of meeting in person. There are many ways to think about how to use video.

In this case, I would posit the question, “If you could create anything—budget withstanding—what would it be?” Then work from there.

robRob Biesenbach | Communications Consultant, Author, Speaker

Many business leaders are all about facts and figures, but the power of video lies with tapping people’s emotions. Explain why telling a good story is more important in a video than loading a it with stats.

Stories stick, statistics don’t. It’s that simple. The authors of Made to Stick found in one study that stories are at least six times stickier than statistics. In particular, a story that has emotional resonance (appealing to hope, pride, frustration) will make a bigger impact, linger in people’s minds and provoke them to act.

I’ve seen this firsthand countless times in my client work. A CEO who was addressing a group of discontented employees about the changes sweeping the company stuck to the facts and data and almost sparked a rebellion. A few minutes later with another group he told a story about his love for the company and pride in its heritage and products, and the mood of the room turned around 180 degrees.

The same effect can be achieve on video.

aliciaAlicia Olsen | Founder, Olsen Marketing Solutions

Many people produce a video, upload it to YouTube and think they’re done. Tell us about the importance of promotion.

As Tony said, it is common for people to create a video, upload it to YouTube, perhaps put it on their website, and then think they are done from a marketing standpoint. But just like any marketing strategy (blog, case study, website, or in this case, video), it’s not enough simply to create the marketing piece. You also need to make sure your target audience (your target customers) see it. Here are some ideas for ways to promote a new marketing video:

  • Place it prominently on your website: This should usually include the home page, but also any other pages where it is relevant, such as an About Us page, Testimonials page, Services page, etc.

  • Use your social media channels: Again, you shouldn’t just share it once on your Facebook page and be done. Make a plan to share your new video multiple times across your social networks when it’s new, and also remember to periodically share it when it’s not new anymore for those who didn’t see it the first time. Consider opportunities to put a video on a social page longer term, such as the ability to add media to your LinkedIn profile or the option to pin posts to the top of your Facebook page.

  • Incorporate your video into other marketing initiatives: Once you have a corporate marketing video, it’s a great opportunity to use within other marketing initiatives and campaigns. You could put it in your newsletter, include in a prospecting email campaign, use as part of a digital advertising campaign, include in your latest blog, put a link in your email signature or many other possibilities to make it a part of your company’s overall marketing plan.

andyAndy Crestodina | Co-Founder, Orbit Media Studios

When it comes to evaluating a video’s effectiveness, most people simply look at how many views it gets. What are some analytics that are a better judge for how a video is performing?

Great question! Here are a few more data points that should give you better insights into the performance of a given video.

  • Attention Span: Depending on where it is hosted/streamed from, you should get a report that shows how much time the average viewer watched the video. Longer attention spans mean a more engaged viewer

  • Time on Page: Assuming the video is embedded on a web page, the video should keep the visitor around for longer. Adding a video should increase the time on page.

  • unnamedShares: Was the page with the video shared? How many times?

  • Rank: Does the video rank in YouTube or in Google search results? If so, how high?

  • Page Value: If the video is on a sales page, it should help build trust and increase the likelihood that a viewer converts into a lead. If goals are given a dollar value in Analytics, then the value of the page to the process of converting visitors is right there in the “All Pages” report. Adding a compelling video should increase the Page Value for the page.

I love it when everyone at a business gets excited about a new video or video series. They should! It’s fun. What makes the fun last post-production is having a video that works.

A video that makes the audience feel good about your company. A video that drives traffic. A video that helps you sell.

–Tony Gnau

Building Your Marketing Strategy Foundation

Building Your Marketing Strategy FoundationCreating a marketing video is fun. It’s fun because at the end of the video production process you have something tangible and exciting to share. Even better… it’s a marketing tactic that checks all the boxes you need for your marketing strategy foundation.

This is something that occurred to me recently as I listened to one of our clients speak about branding at a Wisconsin Business Owners luncheon. It’s kind of funny because he wasn’t a client at the time but has since become one after I met him that day.

Rob Grede is a marketing veteran and the author of Naked Marketing. I actually happened upon his book in a local book store over the weekend and it made me reflect on what he talked about on the day we met.

A Solid Marketing Strategy Foundation

Rob talked about three things we need to do in business to create a sound marketing foundation… create awareness, establish credibility, and maintain the brand. I love hearing that because video happens to be a great tactic for all three.

If you have PR or marketing experience, you understand the power of video. It allows a company to tap emotions and earn trust, and here’s how you can put video to work for each of those three pillars.

Create Awareness

Video is great for grabbing attention. Research shows us that people’s eyes are drawn to video on a website. Email campaigns are more effective when they include a link to a video. And video is the social media share king. So if creating awareness is important for you, video is the way to go.

It can be done with a single video, or you can use the Star Wars video marketing strategy and create multiple videos. Use them to launch a new business, product, service, brand… just about anything.

Do you have an existing brand you’d like to highlight? Maybe a product or service that’s been around a while but needs some marketing love? Video can help you refocus attention on it.

Establish Credibility

Creating a video is a great way to establish credibility because it can do something the written word and photos just can’t do. It allows viewers (i.e. prospects) to see what you do and how you do it.

You can write about your business all you want… you can add photos… but it pails in comparison to showing people in a video.

Mrs. G and I are currently getting bids on remodeling our kitchen. A salesman came by the other day and talked about their construction process. All I could think about is how much easier and credible it would have been if he had a video to show us how they do things.

Take it a step further. It’s one thing for you to talk about your business. What if your prospects could hear from your current customers?

Enter the video testimonial. We all know how valuable a testimonial can be. Real people telling your prospects how you helped solve their problem.

Gold. It’s hard to top that when you’re trying to establish credibility.

Maintain the Brand

Okay… you’ve done the heavy lifting and established a solid brand. Congrats… but your work isn’t complete because now you have to figure out how to remain on top.

This is one of the often overlooked benefits of video. The more people watch, the more they trust.

Trust… one of the things marketers covet the most. It’s so highly valued we now have Edelman’s Trust Barometer. This is a big reason I often advocate for a video series instead of producing one giant video.

Videos grow on people the more they watch. Each time they click on a new video, they’re alloing you into their lives. They’re growing more and more familiar with you and your business. They’re beginning to trust what you have to say.

Think about TV news anchors. Most people who watch TV news grow attached to their favorite anchors. Why? They don’t know them personally.

The reason why is because they watch night in and night out. The anchor becomes a familiar face, a trusted voice. They might not know them, but they feel like they do. Businesses can use this phenomena to their advantage while maintaining a brand.

Homework time… think about some of your favorite brands right now. When you’re done here, head to the brand’s YouTube channel and check out what’s going on there.

I’m confident they’ll have a YouTube channel because any major brand worth its salt is producing videos.
And that’s the point, isn’t it? Corporate America knows what a valuable tool video can be to maintain a brand, so it has incorporated the tactic into its marketing strategy.

Summing Things Up

Creating awareness, establishing credibility, and maintaining the brand can be a great starter strategy for any business wanting to improve on its marketing. They’re three legs to a stool that will provide a solid foundation for a business.

It’s nice to know there’s a terrific tactic that you can pair with each of the pillars.

–Tony Gnau

Picking The Right Music For Your Videos

Picking The Right Music For Your VideoOne of the biggest production mistakes you can make is picking the wrong music for your videos. From the type of music to the mood it might elicit, there are all sorts of things that need to be considered when selecting a song… no matter what type of video you’re producing.

Is music even necessary?

First thing’s first, and it’s something many people don’t consider at all. Does the video even need music. That’s right. Not every video must have a music bed.

The main reason to use music is to set a mood. If you’re really focused on the content and less about mood, you might not want any music.

Next, if you have decided to move forward and use music, there are some things to consider.

The right music taps emotion

You can use music to manipulate the way people feel about what they’re watching. I don’t mean that in a sinister way. Just that your choice of song will tap into viewers’ emotions.

Pick an upbeat and happy song and you’ve put people on the path to feeling the same way about your content. Select a song that’s serious and sobering and viewers will expect that from your video.

Think about your subject matter and the way you want people to feel about it. That can help guide you when you’re looking for the right music.

Consider your viewers

Another consideration is the audience. Think about them and the type of music that’s going to catch their attention. The music you select for an older audience should be different than the music you select for a younger audience. There could be a difference in what you pick depending on whether your target audience is mostly men or women.

The main thing to avoid is simply picking the music that appeals to you. Think about your audience and their needs before your own.

Don’t pick this type of music for your videos

Speaking of things to avoid, here’s probably the biggest one… popular music. Many people like to incorporate popular music into their videos, but I’m not a fan and there are a couple reasons why.

  • You don’t own the rights. The song might be “perfect” for your video, but you can’t just pick any song you like. You have to have the rights to use it. Now, you can often buy the rights, but that’s an expensive proposition when it comes to popular music.
  • Popular music is too close to people’s hearts. Even if you didn’t have to worry about rights, music makes a strong impression on people. If you choose a song they’re familiar with, they’ll likely stop processing what they’re seeing in your video and start thinking about that song. I hate that song… I love that song… I remember where I was the first time I heard that song. These are all things they might be thinking about instead of paying attention to your content.

Bottom line, stick to royalty-free music from sites like premieumbeat.com (my personal favorite) or even the free music you can get from YouTube’s audio library.

Wrapping it all up

I love what music can do for a production. It can take mediocre content and make it more appealing. It can take good material and make it great. Finally, the right music can take great content and make it something that connects with an audience on a personal level.

So… don’t make it an afterthought. Keep it in mind through the production process. Make sure you select the right song for your video.

–Tony Gnau

Authentic PR Message Surprise

Image Courtesy: spinsucks.com

Courtesy: spinsucks.com

I’ve learned a lot about public relations from reading Spin Sucks, both the blog and the book. One of the lessons that has come through loud and clear is how important it is to deliver an authentic PR message. Which is why a recent phone call from Gini Dietrich was so surprising.

First thing’s first. I don’t work for a PR agency. I’m not even in PR, although in a way I am. I’m a video producer. I get called when PR agents need video storytelling for their clients. Gini is the CEO of Arment Dietrich and the founder of Spin Sucks. I met her about 4-years ago and T60 has been doing work for her, her company, and its clients for the last two years.

Gini and I have talked over coffee, we’ve gotten lunch together, but Gini makes her living in a digital world. She’s an expert in all things digital PR and marketing. She converted her whole business model into one with employees working through cyber space in cities all over North America and most of our communication is via email and tweets.

My Big Surprise

So… you can imagine my surprise when my phone rang and the name “Gini Dietrich” popped-up. I knew something important must be going on.

“Hey, are you free late this afternoon?” asked Gini.

“Actually, yeah. You caught me on a light day, what’s up?” I replied.

“Would you be able to bring your video gear and meet me someplace. I have a big event going on and I need bodies. I don’t have time to explain, but I think you’ll enjoy it.”

Intrigued… I agreed and she gave me a time and an address.

I arrived later that day at the address specified, a high-rise office building on North Michigan Avenue, Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. I took the elevator up and when the doors opened, I was blown away.

I was in a luxurious reception area with the name “Arment Dietrich” adoring the wall. I checked-in with the receptionist. The place was buzzing. Tons of people walking around the huge space, in and out of offices, cubicles, and conference rooms. Awesome video displays were everywhere displaying what looked like analytics.

After a few minutes, I was shown back to Gini’s corner office with a view overlooking the Chicago river and the historic Wrigley Building. Amazing. Gini greeted me and asked me to sit down… and I needed to.

“So… what do you think!?” she asked.

“Umm, where am I? Who are you and what have you done with Gini Dietrich?”

“I know… crazy, right!? You want to know the most amazing part? It isn’t real.”

Gini went on to tell me about a huge client she was trying to land. The only problem is that they tend to work with equally large PR agencies. She was worried they’d be freaked-out about potentially working with a completely digital agency with no corporate headquarters or central meeting space where busy team members go to work everyday.

Enter the fictional Arment Dietrich office. She was going to host a meeting in this place with the clients to give them a sense of comfort that her agency was big enough for them. She wanted me to play the roll of the head of Arment Dietrich’s video team.

It seemed so out of character for her, but whether it was the dizzying motion of the busy “employees” or the aroma of fresh coffee being made by the barista at the coffee station… I agreed.

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The Clients Arrive

When it came time for the meeting, I really didn’t have much to do. Gini introduced me to the clients and I simply said hello and welcomed them to Chicago. That was it.

I watched the meeting as it took place in the glassed-in conference room and it seemed to go well. As it was going-on, I noticed all of the fake team members started filing out. By the time the meeting ended and Gini exited with the clients, I was the only one in massive office space.

The client was saying, “Gini, you have an amazing operation. Everything you shared about what you’re doing for your clients, all the data to back it up, it’s just what we need.”

“So you’re confident we can do the job?” said Gini.

“Yes. Your team is amazing,” said the client.

“And no more spinning? I know it’s been a big part of how you’ve done things in the past,” said Gini.

“Well, we might need some more convincing on that front, but we’re willing to listen.”

“Okay then… here’s your first lesson,” said Gini.

She went on to tell them about the whole ruse. The clients were furious.

“Good,” said Gini. “I’m glad you’re upset. You should be and you know why? Because spin sucks.

She went on to tell them that spinning might work in the short term, but eventually they’ll be exposed. And the feeling they were having right then about what just happened is the feeling their clients and prospects will feel about them when that day comes.

And that’s when I woke-up. I looked at the clock. It was 5:30 a.m.

Authentic PR Takeaway

What does this have to do with video production? Everything. A unauthentic PR or marketing video isn’t any better than the whole scenario I dreamed about. It’s fake. It’s phony. It’s spin.

Be authentic. Be truthful. Show your customers and prospects behind the curtain. Audiences respond to honesty. It helps build a connection between them and your company.

Your videos don’t need to highlight a perfect company… just a real one with real people behind it.

–Tony Gnau

Don’t Hire A Photographer To Produce Your Videos

don't hire a photographer to produce your videos

Photo: anieto2k

Let’s start with the obvious question. Can a still photographer produce a video? Yes they can and many of them have started doing more of it. Do most of them do it well? No.

Notice I wrote “most” in there. That’s quite intentional. I’m sure there are still photographers out there who do a fine job of producing videos, but in my opinion they tend to be the exception. There’s a good reason for that and I’ll get to it in just a minute.

Don’t worry, I won’t let videographers off the hook because it goes the other way as well. Can a video producer shoot still photographs? Yes they can and many of them have started doing more of it. Do most of them do it well? No.

How did we get here… photographers shooting video?

There’s a good reason why many photographers are now producing videos and vice versa. It’s all because of the DSLR camera. The DSLR is the type of camera you see photographers using all the time. What’s changed over the last five to ten years is that camera manufacturers started adding video as a capability… and those cameras shoot fantastic video.

I won’t get too technical here, but DSLR cameras have big image sensors inside that allow them to shoot with a tremendous depth of field. The effect you get is a sharp focus on your subject matter and an extremely blurred-out background. It makes for beautiful video and photos.

DSLRs are also, in many ways, more affordable that a traditional video camera. Those two facts led videogrpahers to buy those cameras in large numbers, and along the way they started offering their clients packages to shoot stills as well as produce their videos. At the same time, still photographers who already owned those cameras started offering video as one of their services.

And the whole thing stinks.

Double-dipping doesn’t work

I appreciate both ends of this… particularly from the business side of things. All of a sudden both groups had new services they could offer their clients. It provides a chance for new business as well as an up-sell opportunity.

Bundling services with one person shooting both stills and video may even mean a lower cost to the customer. The issue I have is with the quality of the work. I’m not going to single anyone out here, so I’ll use myself as an example.

I occasionally get asked by clients if I shoot stills and I always turn down that work… and for good reason.

Can I shoot stills? Sure, but I am not a professional still photographer. If I took that work, I could probably stumble through it and do it well-enough that the client would be happy. But I know deep down that if they hired a real still photography pro, they’d get an even better product in the end.

Which is why I refer those jobs to the appropriate people.

Why can’t everyone do both? There are a couple of good reasons why both groups have problems with the others’ discipline.

  • It’s not their passion. There’s a reason I picked-up a video camera 20+ years ago instead of a still camera. I love pairing motion images with words. I love storytelling. A still photographer is a storyteller in his or her own right, but it’s not the same as what I do for a living. I followed my passion and they followed theirs.
  • Experience. A still photographer might have some experience as a video storyteller, but it’s likely limited in comparison to the experience they have shooting stills. It only stands to reason that they’re not going to be able to produce a video as well as someone who has dedicated their life to it. It’s the same reason a videographer’s stills won’t rival theirs.

Takeaway

As time goes on and more and more young photographer/videographers come of age doing both, this line may begin to blur quite a bit. But for now… there really is a line. Photographers shoot stills better than videographers and videographers produce better videos than photographers.

There are a ton of great still photographers out there and there are a ton of great video producers. Hire the right one for the job. If you need a video produced, hire the person who has a passion and experience to deliver an awesome video. And that goes the opposite direction as well.

–Tony Gnau

 

How-To Pick A Video Company

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Picking a video production company can be a tricky proposition. No doubt, price matters and you’ll want to find out if they fit your budget. However, there are some other things you can look at when learning how-to pick a video company. 

  • look at their client list (do they have many repeat clients?)
  • ask who’s going to be the creative mind behind the project?
  • are they purely video experts, or do they have a storytelling background too?

Just a few things you should consider.

Of course, you should watch the client videos they post at their website as examples. We have an additional tip on what to look for when you do that in this month’s vlog, so please give that a watch.

–Tony Gnau