October, 2014

High schools and marketing? Yes, it's time to invest in educational video

We've done lots of educational videos over the years, but getting an inquiry about promoting a public high school late this summer was new to us.

In Southeastern Connecticut, The Day newspaper explained this week what we learned.

"Choosing a high school," Mike DiMauro writes, "...has become a walk through the buffet line, children and their parents studying the options with a chess champion's concentration. Magnet school? Private school? Agri-Science? Marine sciences? Regular old high school?"

Everyone has to compete, and so everyone has to invest in marketing -- even the public schools that have never had to sell their educational product before.

Ledyard High School's inquiry turned into a simple editing job of footage they had shot themselves. But our experience working with educational experts, teasing out great parent and student testimonials, and showcasing new learning technologies makes us uniquely positioned to help high schools across the state.

Whether public, charter, private or magnet, we can show prospective students all you have to offer, affordably and effectively.

Happy 250th birthday Hartford Courant!

Today's the day! On Oct. 29, 1764, the first issue of what is now called The Hartford Courant was published.

The paper has been celebrating this milestone all year long, and will conclude with the program we produced in conjunction with Connecticut Public Television.

"One Moment, One Image: Connecticut History Through the Eyes of a Photojournalist" will air on Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. on Fox CT.

"One Moment" shows us the true power photographs have on how we experience our world. In Connecticut, those images have connected us to history and to each other. They have come from the state’s news source, The Hartford Courant.

To learn about these images, we had to go behind the camera – to the photographers themselves. Courant photographers both past and present – Stephen Dunn, Cloe Poisson, Mark Mirko, John Long and Michael McAndrews -- explain how they go about finding the best moments to capture. We follow Courant photographers on the job, watching how they interact with their subjects or simply blend in.

We also traveled back in time, talking to University of Connecticut professors about history and news photography’s evolution. And of course, the Hartford Courant’s vast archives, which are older than our nation, were the key to illustrating Connecticut’s historical events since the use of photography in the news.

From culture and crime to sports and politics, “One Moment, One Image” covers a wide array of events big and small. It brings us into the present, as the Courant’s leaders look forward to a future that honors the past but continues to evolve in our digital world.

Are Nonprofits Getting the Most Bang for Their Marketing Bucks?

By Rosemary O'Neill, Kinetic Media president

“Countless aid groups have made promotional films and videos, usually watched by no one other than aid workers and their mothers.”

So say Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn in their compelling new book, “A Path Appears.” The book makes the point that, to raise funds successfully, nonprofits need to invest in effective marketing and communications that yield results, the authors write. They say too many videos are made that are so earnest and boring, they have zero impact.

For years, nonprofits have spent most of their marketing dollars on direct mail pieces that head straight for the trash. Today’s email blasts face the same fate. And while everyone knows the value of social media today, messages can run into space limitations or get lost in news feeds.

Unfortunately, type on a page can’t really convey the joy of an African child reading her first book or the gratitude of a mother who finally has clean water for her children. Those images touch people. Their stories make people write checks.

Videos are versatile and have lasting power. They can be shown at fundraising meetings, and can be posted on web sites and in blogs and emailed to donors. Footage can be sliced and diced in a variety of ways to make different videos that will achieve specific results.

Most importantly, videos don’t have to cost a lot. When you hire the right professionals, they can work with you to focus on what’s most important so you don’t waste time and money.

Here are some guidelines for nonprofits who want to use video to tell their stories:

• Keep it short and simple. Try to focus on one story of one person or one family your organization is helping. Make it your best story.
• Don’t try to do it yourself. Yes, we all have phones with cameras, but that doesn’t mean we all know how to make a good video. Use a professional production company that will help you find your best story, write the script, shoot the video and edit the footage.
• Make sure your video is part of an overall plan. Will you be using it as a meeting opener? Will you email it to potential donors and/or volunteers? How will you gauge its success? Consider all these issues in advance.
• Think about casting. Choose the best person to convey your story. If the story feels staged or rehearsed, you’ll lose authenticity. Resist the urge to have the head of your organization recite your success stories. We all want to see the people we’re helping and the impact our money has on the lives of those people.

To paraphrase Kristof and WuDunn, nonprofits have great stories to tell, but they’re not always telling them well. Your organization may well be changing the world – but your efforts will be that much more powerful when you spread the word.

One Moment, One Image: our project with the Hartford Courant

We've been blog-posting deficient, but not because we haven't been busy! Kinetic Media has been working with the Hartford Courant and CPTV to produce "One Moment, One Image: Connecticut History Through the Eyes of a Photojournalist."

The program shows us the true power photographs have on how we experience our world today and long ago. We've gotten to follow around modern Hartford Courant photographers on their quest to capture Connecticut moments big and small. Below, you can see our CPTV cameraman following photographer Steve Dunn, who is shooting the historic Charles W. Morgan on a sea trial.

Stay tuned for the show's air date this month!