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DIY Video vs Hiring a Professional (Updated January '18)


Here is a video update with where I stand on DIY vs hiring a professional crew. Not a lot of changes, but - I do have a suggestion for figuring out if it's worth it for your org! 


(original post from Feb, 2015 is as follows)

In January I had the privilege to sit on a panel with some amazing video experts in the Twin Cities, at Social Media Breakfast. We gave DIY tips, tricks, and resources to check out. We talked about the evil thing that is autoplay (in my opinion), and which brands we think are doing a great job when it comes to video content. But, we ran out of time before getting to one question.

"When should you hire a professional? When should you just do it yourself?"

Great question. Of course, being a professional that would like to work with you (hint hint, I like your new outfit...you look great!), of course I lean towards the "You should always hire a professional," camp. But, with the technology and creative spirit that is out there, I don't think you should go without video content...just because your budget doesn't allow for a professional. So, here are a few scenarios where...if playing the part of content strategist, I'd make the decision to hire versus doing it in house.
 

First, what videos are best done in house?

1. Behind the scenes videos: anything meant for social media/candid content.Are you reacting to a current event? What about office games, singing happy birthday, off the cuff reviews of a product? Why? These videos are meant to show the current personality of your team. They show how real you are. Spontaneous. Back during my days at BringMeTheNews.com we took a video of our newsroom when our website was down. We were playing paddleball, reading, dancing, juggling...of course it was staged, but it was fun content to throw on social media, to curb the complainers while our IT folks worked their magic to get us up and running again.

2. 7-15 second vine/instagram style posts. Again, this will be very "inside baseball" content of your team. Of course, if you want these to appear polished and if they have any type of comedic timing whatsoever...I'd say hire a pro to shoot a bunch of them at once to maximize the time you're paying for.

3. Challenges. Think: ice bucket challenge, the lutefisk challenge. These are easy to do with your smart phone (Just remember to turn it sideways! Vertical video is evil! Do you suffer from vertical video syndrome?)

4. Media moments. Is your boss being interviewed? Take a quick video before, during or after the interview, to post to your website and/or social media accounts to get some extra PR out of the deal. Build buzz.

When should you hire a professional?

1. For everything else. (ok, just kidding...)

2. Videos starring people who have never been on camera before. Seasoned directors know what it takes to get new talent to feel at ease, and deliver in an authentic/non-salesy manner.

3. Content with staying power. Do you have a great video idea that will resonate with your audience and share for a long time due to the timeless content? Or, something that will live on your website/be sent to potential clients or partners, for a good chunk of time? Remember, if people are seeing something from your brand for the first time, you want that initial impression to be a good one.

4. B2B Content. Research shows that 65% of executives will visit the website of a vendor, after viewing a video from them. Boom.

5. When your other content is no longer helping you achieve the goals you set out to tackle. Are things stagnant? Nobody watching? A professional can step in with an objective/honest opinion. Some are only comfortable on the production end of things, but folks like Puke Rainbows (shameless plug, yes!) also handle strategy, and look at market research to help figure out where things could be goin' South.

6. When you want to take a creative risk. Video professionals live for this stuff. We want to help you stand out, and push our creative chops as well. With so much content out there, taking a risk...really isn't as risky as it once was. Want to cut through the clutter? Ask a professional for help.

7. Training videos. If you are going to make staff sit through these things...the worst thing is watching something that has horrible audio, or questionable craftsmanship. In fact, it detracts from the idea of training the employee.

8. When the expense makes sense. Many companies think that DIY video in house "saves money"...this is not always the truth. Just like any profession, video professionals are much more efficient at what they do, than the average bear. This is the same reason why I hire an accountant to do my taxes. Because it's just not worth it for me to try to do it...it takes me days, it takes him 45 minutes. Back in my TV days I'd write/shoot/edit more than six videos per day. I've held the hands of teams of 3-4 inexperienced folks attempting DIY video, and it takes them 2 full weeks, 80 hours/per person to put together a 2 minute video. That's more than $6,000 for employees making $25/hour. I'm willing to bet, their time would have been more valuable to said company, spent actually putting together a distribution/PR plan for the video, instead of producing/shooting/editing it. Weigh the cost of your employee's time, before you scoff at giving them a budget for video.

I know these are just a few examples, but it's a good start! Let me know if you have any questions or comments. This is just a simple conversation starter. :) Keep puking rainbows, my friends...and thanks for reading!

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Maximizing Video Content

When it comes to putting content online, there are a few key things you can do to maximize your effort. Here is a tactical list of my favorites, and a few examples of people doing things right!

1. Respect: your platform, audience, and moment.

One of the biggest mistakes we make, is in thinking the video content, or any content…is about US and what WE want. Are we the target audience? Most times, no. The University of Minnesota Rochester does a great job of recognizing their audience on the respective social platforms. They engage with user generated content, memes, and hashtags that are relevant to their students.  We took this same messaging into play when we sat down to talk about what kind of admissions videos we wanted to create. The result? Relatable content. We took a complicated idea/majors, and made them as conversational as possible. We also made it possible to break up each of these long videos, into smaller – micro content. We did this because that respects the audience for different social media platforms like instagram, where content is much shorter – so in addition to the 4 long videos we did together, we also gave them many short, raw clips of video to use elsewhere. 

2. Content Empathy
One of the most common questions I get from people is, “WHEN should I post my video?”
The answer?
When is YOUR audience most likely to interact with it? We need to put ourselves in their shoes. Celarity does a great job doing this, because as recruiters – they know a lot of people are searching for jobs outside of normal 9-5 business hours, so they’ll post content before 9a and after 5p. The result was a big increase in their content interaction, and conversions.  So, remember…as you’re putting together your video, take a minute to scroll through your feed on your phone, and keep in mind what the video will look like when it intersects with the content of others. Putting yourself in the shoes of the viewer, gives you a sense of empathy while creating your content.  We also took into consideration, for celarity – their brand. “Relatable, real” were terms we heard a lot in our discussions with them, and that their process and benefits were you unique - so it was important to point that out visually. So, we put together a look that was transparent, by showing production elements, and even showing that their employees were nervous talking on camera. It helped keep their relatable brand, human. 

 



3. Reciprocation
Often times, when we get to the video distribution process…we throw it out there, and expect a firestorm of conversation. But, we forget…WE need to be a part of the conversation.  Especially if we are dealing with influencer marketing. So, make sure – if someone is re-posting your content, asking a question about it, etc…that you’re following up with them to answer the question or say “thank you” for the compliment. Manners don’t fly out the window, just because you’re online. The more the fans/friends/consumers feel loved, the more likely it will be for them to engage with your content in the future. Here is an example of a quick video @productpoet did as an influencer, for Enterprise rent-a-car, after they tweeted him poetry in order to get his business. Considering he has more than 140,000 followers on twitter – this extended their brand reach substantially! So, for them…responding to a tweet amounted in hundreds of dollars of direct sales revenue, and a huge brand reach boost. It wasn't fancy, but was exposure for both Enterprise and Dodge. 

4. Have a Soul
A lot of video content is being consumed on mobile devices these days. Now, let’s take a step back for a second and think: what do people use their phones for? Well, avoiding calls from loved ones…(hehe, kidding), texting, uploading photos, etc…right? Very PERSONAL things. So, whatever you’re putting out there, is going to need to be either useful or compelling enough to convince them it’s important enough to give time to. This means, having a soul when you’re creating things. What moves the audience? In the case of the Science Museum of Minnesota, our audience was children. So, Science Museum sourced kid generated questions, which we asked an actual NASA astronaut. I mean, what kid doesn’t want to talk about farts? It showed that the brand didn’t take themselves too seriously, and that they understood their audience. They knew it was something they'd want to show their kids. 

As far as non-profits go, charity: water is the king of having a soul! Here is another example of using meaningful content, in a simple way – to tell a story. Keep in mind, they shot a lot of these storytelling pieces at events they held with supporters. This is a GREAT way to capture your biggest fans on camera, all in one place!


5. Trending Data
If we’re looking at what’s hip and new right now, the mannequin challenge is right up there. The Texas A & M gymnastics team nailed it, and a Minneapolis, Minnesota rapper took it to another level at a live show – very cool. 
 

Last fall, we embarked on a quest to capitalize on trending data with WINGS Financial Credit Union. We did this by creating a “pumpkin spice checking” video. So fun! Their organic video views increased by 35%, and they spent 75% less on this project, than they have on videos in the past. Less spend, with a better result? Sounds good to most of us, right? 

6. Pro Wish List
Lastly, I wanted to touch on what to have ready – if you’re going to be working with a professional. Because this, is going to maximize not just your video…but, your budget – since the professional won’t be figuring these things out with you.

A. Know your goal: conversion, reach, brand awareness, event promotion?
B. Know your audience: who are you trying to reach? Narrow it down.
C. Know your distribution platform: we’ll shoot things differently if we know they’ll be shown in certain spots (i.e. mobile only, a movie theater, etc…)
D. Know your budget range. Going to a professional without an idea, is like asking a realtor to find you a house, without boundaries. As a rule of thumb, many professionals tend to work in the 3k-100k realm. With standard internet content on the lower end of that. Often times, if clients as about this – I’ll provide examples of what different types of videos look like in different ranges, as a guide. J

Best of luck using inbound marketing to maximize your video content! As always, sign up for e.mail updates, or pop me a line if you have any questions. Keep puking rainbows, and making the most of whatever budget you have! 

Erica




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Video Content: Simple is the Creative Goal

As I was sitting in a coffee shop, listening to two gentlemen attempt to "out buzzword" each other, it occurred to me that most things we do as marketers - end up overcomplicating everyday conversations we have. And, the same holds true for creative. Sure, it may be clever...but, if in the end your consumer/viewer doesn't understand the point - you've probably lost a client (or, at least you should). 

Listen, Minneapolis is full of amazingly talented and creative people - there is no doubt about that. But, the more I start to heed the advice of an old boss and think of creative as a vehicle to simplify a message - the better off the end product is. Here is the little coffee shop rant inspired post. 


Who do you see that does this well? I think the guys over at Sandwich video are killing it (yes, gasp! I'm promoting a competitor - and totally fine with that) And, the folks behind the Dollar Shave Club commercials are really doing a great job as well. Simple doesn't need to mean boring, remember. 

Thanks for stopping by, you guys - tell me what you think. And, as usual - keep puking rainbows! 

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Specialize, or Learn All The Things?

The dorky kid who liked school. That was, and has always been...me. When college came around, I still didn't "really" know what I wanted to do. A little radio here, video production there, directing, drinking, and dating. Tah-dah. My first job was at a tiny TV station in Iowa, where I quickly learned...I had to be as self reliant as possible. 

That? Sucked. 

But, the lessons were priceless. Did I become a pro at troubleshooting for computer problems, and beta tape issues? Not exactly, but the process forced me to be resourceful and to seek out hotlines for help (this is before you could find *everything* on the internet...yes, I'm that old). 

So, enter the move to the big city 9 years ago. It was the first time someone offered to cut video and audio for a promo for me. I almost didn't know what to do with myself. I felt...lazy. But, also free to do things I had a stronger skill set in, like writing headlines and positioning promos to entice viewers to watch. The nice thing was that the editors appreciated having someone who understood how long it took to cut video. The need to give them specific timecode. It created a bond over shared knowledge. 

Then, came a conversation I will never forget. Chatting with a buddy who was in advertising. I shared that my heart told me I would be a better fit in an agency, than at my current job in TV. I'll never forget his response, 

"I'm sorry, but...that just won't happen. You're not specialized enough. People in advertising won't know what to 'do' with you. Video, writing, producing, social...it's too much. Also, most advertising folks classify TV people as lacking in creativity. So yeah...good luck." 

I was, to put it lightly, absolutely heartbroken. Grieving the loss of a dream I had held onto for years. The tears flowed freely, and doubt settled in. But then, a big change. I became...pissed. 

Since when was it a bad thing, to understand how multiple jobs fit together? It didn't mean I wanted to "DO" all of the things. Just that knowing how the cogs, gears, and wheels fit together...made sense. Why not have respect for what the other person on your team does, by at least learning the general idea about what they look to accomplish? And creativity? Creativity, is about believing you can create. Knowing that you are an artist. Trusting your intuition, and backing it up with data and belief. 

"Screw this," I thought...it's time to BE creative, and to CREATE things for one reason only: 

Because I can't NOT create, any longer. 

Eyes open, I embarked on a lovely project that opened many doors. Directing a my first music video for a young lad named Dan Rodriguez. When Dan and I first met, his content was getting roughly 50 hits on youtube, with each post. His Red Flags video we made, has 188,000 views now. And, last month? An amazing song of his was featured in a Budweiser PSA that has now racked up almost 20 MILLION (yes, million!) hits. He is a star. Is it because of our video together? No. But, it was really fun to be a part of his growing career. I look back now at that video we made, and think: oh jeeeeesh, why didn't I do "this, this, this, and this" differently? But, that's the beauty of learning. Using old work as a benchmark for growth. If you can look back at something from 5 years ago and say, "Yup, that was the peak. I'm done." Then why continue to create? 

Anyway,  to the point. On Dan's shoot, we didn't "specialize." Carry gear? Yup. Pick up coffee? Yup. Direct, edit, produce? Sure, those are my favorite things! Lighting? Shooting? I observed. Because Joe Berglove was the pro. But, knowing ins and outs of what he was doing made it easy to help adjust a light, grab a battery, etc... knowing the basics, made it easier to not be an asshole to my hard-working crew. The rest of the team? Did the same, and more. Our director of photography took on prop/set building. Our graphic artist helped with concept. We had a blast. 

So, here I am today. Ready to make things. A lot of folks in production think it's weird that I spent a year at Director level jobs in the social media/content space. A lot of social media folks give me strange looks when I talk passionately about production. I think it's weird, to pretend to fully understand one thing without the other. When you're coming up with an idea, it's nice to understand who will be watching it, how it will be made, and how in the heck you'll be able to get it to people. Does that mean EVERYONE in the business should have a baseline knowledge for all of those things? No way. In the same way that I try to maintain a baseline level of knowledge when it comes to marketing/digital, production folks maintain the highest level of knowledge when it comes to their specialized skill. Lighting? Audio? I shouldn't touch it. But, I do need to know enough to be able to communicate what I'd like the end result to be, to make sure the creative vision a client signs off on, is fulfilled. 
 

Back to the question: specialize, or learn all the things? I guess it's not that cut and dry. Either way, just choose the side you feel most comfortable on, and hustle like crazy to be the best in that position. I love being a creative interpreter, of sorts. Others love being the top expert in one thing. Neither is right or wrong. But the beauty is seeing folks on both sides of the fence, attempt to step out of the box. I've had a few high level Directors of Photography ask about digital strategy lately. Why? Because they want people to see the beautiful things they make. Walking them through those things? So fun. In trade? They geek out with me over gear, offering a "cliff notes" version of what is up and coming, and how certain cameras will give my projects different looks. Man, those dudes are smart. 

So, keep learning. Whether it's specializing with awareness of what is around you...or, immersing yourself in all of the things, but taking time to drill down deep enough periodically, to know what will give you the best result. People fear things they don't understand, so let's reach out to each other to help bridge that gap, and make new things fun again. 

Thanks for reading, rainbow pukers. 

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