Video Can Rescue Your Nonprofit During COVID-19
Doug Scott is the founder and CEO of Tectonic Video, a leading video agency for nonprofits. Doug has more than 20 years of nonprofit communications experience as a filmmaker, communications director, and chief marketing officer and his team works with nonprofits across the US and around the world to create award-winning videos that drive results. His work has been featured in The New York Times, NPR, CNN and AdWeek and he is a frequent guest lecturer at Stanford University on the power of storytelling for nonprofit organizations.
Doug will share how video communication strategies are vital to the future of nonprofits and how to create highly engaging and effective video campaigns.
For almost a decade, the team at Tectonic has helped nonprofits create better videos.
We chose the name “Tectonic” because we believe nonprofit communications are in the midst of a tectonic shift. Video is the future, and nonprofits need to quickly adapt to this new reality. We’ve made hundreds of videos for dozens of nonprofits around the world. We love what we do, and we’re passionate about helping nonprofits accomplish their missions and grow. Let’s do this!
Read the Interview Transcript
Hugh Ballou: Greetings, welcome to The Nonprofit Exchange. We hope it’s toward the end of our confinement of COVID-19. We’re in June 2020. The message we have today is about how we reformulate our ideas, our presence, and connect with people coming out of this crisis, but it’s a universal message. My guest today is Doug Scott. He has a lot of really good stuff to share. Even if we had people with the same topic, they have had different things to share. We have not had people like you talking about video, especially video that is relevant to nonprofits promoting themselves. Before we move on, tell people who you are, and why you do what you do. What is your passion for it?
Doug Scott: Thanks for letting me be a part of this. My story. I am a film school dropout. I loved movies growing up and thought, “Hollywood, that sounds great. I want to spend my life telling stories on the big screen.” I went to film school, and after one semester, it was very clear to me that even though I loved making movies and telling stories, the movie business was not for me. I came back to Chicago, defeated, trying to figure out what to do next. Then came a series of odd jobs, working night shift at a grocery store stocking shelves, or customer service for house cleaning products. I went to school part-time. I still loved the arts. I still loved writing and making small videos myself.
I fell into event production, like where you have a big conference and bring in a stage, lights, and big screens. I worked my way up to running those productions for conferences with a few hundred people or sometimes 2,000 people. I loved doing that work. I loved the pressure of putting together a show and combining all these elements together. It was awesome.
After six years of doing that, I got really burned out. High stress, lot of travel, lot of hours. I entered the phase which I called my quarter-life crisis. I really began to wonder what was the point of all this? Also questioning how much of who I am or the way I thought about myself and my life was based upon the family I was born into and the color of my skin and where I was born, and all those deep philosophical musings you have late at night. I thought I needed a change.
I always wanted to travel but had never really traveled before. When I do something, I tend to go big. I put a date on the calendar, and leading up to that date, I sold everything I had, gave whatever I couldn’t sell away to Salvation Army, left with a backpack, a few changes of clothes, and a passport. I bought a one-way ticket to Ireland and thought I would figure it out as it went.
One year, five continents, 33 countries later, I came back to the U.S. completely transformed with a whole new vision for my life. It’s the work I am now doing. The thing that changed me wasn’t all the once-in-a-lifetime experiences you have on a trip like that. I did do those, too, like hang-gliding in the Alps and trekking the Great Wall of China and going on safari in Africa. The things that transformed me were the things that happened along the way. I was traveling as cheaply as I possibly could, sleeping on people’s couches, taking local buses and trains and boats and as much cheap transportation I could find.
Inevitably, you run into people and start talking to them. Surprisingly, a number of them worked in nonprofit organizations in whatever country I was traveling in at the time. After talking for a little while, they asked me to check out what they were doing. That was a dangerous thing to do because I almost always had nowhere else to go, so I usually said, “Sure, I’ll go.” I saw what they were doing, and my mind was blown. Feeding AIDS orphans in Zambia, a meditation center for refugees in China, an arts collective in New Zealand. My mind was blown by all the organizations that I experienced along the way. My mind was also blown by how bad their websites were and how poorly they communicated about their work. It felt like an injustice that these people were doing such incredible work on the ground, but they couldn’t get what they needed to do more of that work because they couldn’t communicate what they were doing effectively. I knew that was my mission in life and what I was going to do when I got back to the States.
When I came back, I finished up my degree in communications. I started working for nonprofit organizations, first as a video producer, then as a chief marketing officer, and then started my company that I lead today, Tectonic Video. We work exclusively with nonprofit organizations. We’re a video agency that starts out with a strategy, either organization-wide or campaign-specific. We execute that strategy from concept all the way to editing and post-production. We’re humble to work with incredible organizations like the American Lung Association doing PSAs for them or fundraising videos for World Relief or educational videos for groups out of Harvard, Stanford, and MIT. I have the best job in the world. I get to hang out with amazing people, telling amazing stories of all the good that’s happening in the world. I get to tell stories still. That’s my happy ending background story of how I got to where I am today.
Hugh: I briefly looked at your website. It’s really well done. I see a lot of really bad websites. It’s got a clean look, and it has a lot of video on it. Is that a place people can go to see some video?
Doug: Absolutely. Learn about our work and our strategy stuff. Tectonic.Video.
Hugh: It’s good to see some videos with a clear message and branding. This is my second week as being the past president of the Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra board. Before I came on, they had a really nice logo developed. They said, “We have a brand.” I said, “Really?” I recruited a brander for the board, and he did a video about branding and music and how we will connect with different audiences. In that conversation, we talked about how everybody in the organization represents the brand with the way your website looks, and the videos are representations of your brand. We don’t go randomly telling a story and then another one. There is a design for a particular video. How does that fit into the overall messaging of the website and identity that a nonprofit needs to have today?
Doug: Good question. You’re hitting on a key point that I really believe. I think even your example there about confusing a logo with a brand, it just speaks to the fact that people who run nonprofits and start nonprofits are doing it for the absolute right reasons. They have a passion to help people or excel in whatever artistic medium they are a part of. They are not expert communicators or do not have a background in executing a video or communications strategy for their organization. They underappreciate the importance of video. Hugh, you get this with the great work you have done. I sense this pivot you’re making toward video as well. I think it’s brilliant.
The future of brand communications for nonprofits and general organizations will be video-heavy, much more so than it is today. Even the big brands. They are working toward video-first communications, which is a long way away from what most nonprofits will be able to do.
Video is growing in importance. Our good friend Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook, he said that video will look like as big of a shift in the way that we all share and communicate as mobile has been. You think about the shift from landline phones and old computers to how mobile has transformed everything. He believes video will have that same kind of effect. In other instances, he has said he predicts the overwhelming majority of all content on Facebook will be video in the next few years. Nonprofits need to appreciate that and begin to think about how they will ramp up their communications in that way.
Hugh: Your degree is in communications. How did that prepare you? My degree, I’m doing leadership and organizational development. My degree is in choral conducting, but I know how to build harmonious groups that work together. Video isn’t just turning on a camera and shooting some footage. The overarching theme is communications.
Doug: How I’d say my degree prepared me for the work I’m doing now is it gave me the absolute perfect foundation upon which to build a strategy around video or to build a compelling single video that meets whatever organizational need you may have. You need that foundation if you will be the person who is part of the process defining what the message will be, what the videos will be, how the videos will work together to meet your organizational goals. Having a communications background is vital, moreso than having the skills to make the video itself. That is another skillset. I have learned that skillset to the point where I am jack of all trades and master of none in terms of the elements of video. That is why I hire incredible filmmakers who are experts at filming, editing, or motion graphics.
The fundamentals of putting together a video strategy are the fundamentals of putting together a marketing strategy. Core to any marketing strategy is appreciating you are making stuff for other people than yourself. That is something people have a very hard time getting their heads around. You just assume you have the best taste in the world, and if you like it, everybody else should, too. If not, they can take a hike. Which is not the right way to approach it.
Any communications theory starts with audience. That is how we approach it with our video as well. We have a video audience process that we run with our clients to help them think through how to best invest in their video communications. We get it. Video costs money. It is one of the highest stakes communications mediums out there because it costs real money or real time to make video content. With that investment of resources and time that go into making the video, it has the potential to be incredibly powerful. Video, when it’s done right, becomes scalable, on-brand, easily shareable content. There are some great statistics online about how video out-performs almost every other kind of communications medium because it is so engaging. When you create video in the right way, it can have an impact.
When you talk nonprofits communications, you are often talking about development. We work a ton with chief development officers and fundraising. Many of them, rightly so, understand that if you remove the fundamentals of direct mail, conversations, handwritten letters, that hand-holding and personal connection with people, you will have a horrible time raising money. That is still the ballgame, to have those personal interactions, to have something that sets you apart, especially for major givers. You need to have that game there. But video can go a long way for augmenting that game. Providing a platform for other than your major givers, those smaller givers that you don’t necessarily need to connect with on a person-by-person basis. They won’t be the biggest givers to your organization. Video can be a great way toward allowing them to engage with your organization in the way you want them to understand and connect with who you are and take action on what you need them to do.
Hugh: Expense is relative. In business, we learn that the average business letter probably cost $25-35. You have the executive’s time to figure out what they want to say, the administrator’s time to produce the letter, and the printing and mailing. By the time you factor that expense of time in, you have probably spent more than that. If you are sending out 30-40 or 100 letters, maybe one video isn’t that costly after all.
Doug: Great perspective.
Hugh: When I begin to work with nonprofits, I find many of them don’t even have a strategic plan. There is no road map. They know what they are doing with people, but they haven’t defined their long-term objectives. They are just working hard on the day-to-day. What Simon Sinek said in his latest book about the infinite game, that’s where we’re headed. We have to define a road map, but we have to define where we’re headed. That is a prerequisite for creating a marketing strategy around that. The sequence to me would be to understand where you’re going, understand your unique value proposition, understand the problems you solve. Unless you have a different opinion, that is the framework for the business we’re running. That gives you some idea of how you can create a video strategy. That is more than one video, correct?
Doug: Yes. And it’s different kinds of video, too.
Hugh: Say more about that.
Doug: Hugh, you’re right. Having a strategy should not be the first thing you do if you are putting together a communications plan. This is built on top of a communications plan. We advocate that the most sophisticated organizations have a separate video strategy outside of the marketing and communications plan because video can transcend multiple departments within your organization, be it fundraising, marketing, HR. Transform that all-staff email into a video update with your CEO or other administrators talking about what is going on in the department that week. It could be good for hiring, training, volunteer onboarding, lots of other uses.
If you’re integrating video into your marketing strategy, we think there should be many different types of videos. The first thing we do with a new client on a video strategy is help them understand the framework for how we approach and categorize videos. There is the video that you will often think of, which is your organizational overview video. It’s like a case study presented as a video for a nonprofit. We call that a core video asset. Core brand asset for video. That is a category of videos. It can be an organizational overview or case for support video. It could be a video that talks about the history of your organization, like an origin story. It can be an explainer video, like if you have a process for how you are interacting with people coming out of homelessness or an education organization.
These are the kinds of videos that my company works a lot on because we believe these core video assets are the ones you put your energy and dollars into. If you were to use the analogy of food, which we can all relate to, these are the proteins and vegetables of your communications meal. These are the ones that take some time to chew. These can be five, six, seven minutes long. People want to learn more about your organization. They have raised your hand in some way and want more information about what you’re doing. They are willing to sit through a longer video and go into exactly what the problem is, what people have tried to do in the past, why that didn’t work, what you’re doing, why it will work, what you need to do to make it work. The main points to make a case for support or another approach.
There is a separate category of videos called social media videos. Those will mostly be marketing or fundraising videos. These guys play by their own rules. We just did a large study of nonprofit organizations’ use of videos on social media. We took a year’s worth of data from 778 nonprofit organizations looking at how they use video on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It’s a huge landscape of everyone from human services to environment to education to other kinds of organizations. This is available on our website. We looked at what is effective.
The rules to make an effective social media video for nonprofits is it has to be short. These were almost under a minute. That’s short. But when you think about your own viewing habits on social, you’re scrolling, watching something for 30 seconds. You have to make sure you can understand it without any audio because often people won’t turn on audio anymore. They will just look at the text on the screen.
We also realized there are five types of content that will outperform the other ones. The #1 most effective form of content, no surprise to anyone on social media, are babies and animals. They dominate all responsiveness on social media video. No surprise there. They are the most engaging type of video content you can create. If anyone can put a baby or animal in your video, gold, do it as much as you can.
Another type that is compelling is emotional stories from your beneficiaries whose lives you have transformed. Again, keep them short, but these are the most engaging videos we looked at.
Another one is emotional reactions captured in real time. Everyone loves seeing a video when they find out the cancer is gone, or they just graduated from an adult learning program, or this animal just got rescued. These emotional reactions are gold as well.
We have five types that we identified as compelling types of content. Social media is its own universe with its own rules. Back to the food analogy. Social media videos are the carbohydrates for your meal. They are the snack you have ahead of time or the appetizer. They can be a dessert. Small bite-size, rich, frequently snacking on them. They are that part of your meal.
The last group to complete the food analogy are campaigns and events. They are more for fundraising. These are the ones that you will go to throughout the year that can be helpful in spurring giving. Maybe it’s a peer-to-peer campaign. Maybe it’s a year-end giving event. These videos are the ones you look to. They can be lower-production. The social media videos can almost be all low production. We don’t work on those as much because it is not as effective to put a lot of energy and money into social media videos. Campaign videos can be a mix. Some are lower-budget. Use a cell phone with a quick personal update from a person, or a produced video.
By appreciating the different types and needs of each type, you will figure out how to put some money into a core video asset. Those should be updated every 2-3 years. Social media videos, don’t put any money into them. Take some time. It will be us, our own team, our volunteers, with some production level. User-generated, low investment. Campaign videos can be a mix. Some are glossier with some money, and others can be user-generated.
Hugh: That’s fascinating. I’m sure there is different character for different social media platforms with each audience. I’m a speaker, and there is a thing in the speaking industry called a reel. It’s short and high-impact. Is there an equivalent for a nonprofit?
Doug: We call that a brand film or a sizzle reel. We wouldn’t say those are your most important videos. The hierarchy of what you invest in and put your energy to. The case study video, 5-7 minutes, that is the most important. A brand video is further down. It would work on social because it’s short. It would be more highly produced than you would normally do. When we approach a video project, we think about how many assets we can create from the same video shoot or the same project. If we were doing a case for support video, the main organizational overview, we would then also propose to create a one-minute brand film to introduce you as an organization, get people interested in what you’re doing. A lot of adrenaline attached to it. We would take a cut of the main video and make a shortened version that you could use on social or for short attention spans.
Hugh: That would be a good candidate for any social media platform because you’re introducing with high impact the work of the nonprofit. It would focus on the impact of the work, the results.
Doug: Yes. People are always asking, “So what?” Video is a great platform for the “So what?” because people respond to emotion. One of the findings that we had from the social media Nonprofit Social Video Index, that survey we did. Emotion, there are two emotions that outperform all the other emotions on social media. The two emotions that are most dominant are joy and outrage. That won’t be a surprise to anybody. I have never heard that crystallized down to two words before. The ones that get shared the most, liked the most, commented on the most are ones that cause joy or outrage. The emotion behind it is hugely important if you’re wanting to have an engaging video.
Hugh: Is there an interim strategy if a nonprofit has a limited budget, and they want to do something? It would occur to me that the sizzle reel or story video would be a way for them to raise more money to do a video strategy. Is it all or nothing? How do you get your feet wet and do something?
Doug: You can always get started with what you have and do the best with what you can. If you were making a single video a year, I still think if you don’t have the main case for support video, that should be your primary thing. You will show it to major givers, potential major givers, foundations, partners, or at your gala if you have one. That is the default operating procedure for many nonprofits. One video a year. Show it at the gala and to major givers. That is a place to start.
The second would be a compelling story video. If you are able to find someone who has been impacted by the organization, it answers the “So what?” question and drives emotion which drives volunteerism.
Hugh: I will allow some folks to talk. Bob, your mic is open. He is the communications guy and a nonprofit executive and a fundraiser. Bob, do you have a question or comment?
Bob Hopkins: Thank you, Hugh. I like what you have to say. I know you’re right. I am a nonprofit leader of many years. I can remember one little example of how I used a video, which was incredible. I was involved in a project in Nepal building schools. The head of it sent out a letter to all of his donors who said, “If anyone would like to name a classroom after someone in memoriam to them, it will cost you $2,000.” I thought that’s a great idea. I called my brother and sister and said, “Would you like to do this in honor of our mother?” He asked, “Send me a video.” Within ten minutes of my sending him a video, he called back and said, “I’m in.” It’s a great fundraising tool. I wish I had more experience and was capable of doing more of it. I have a website with some videos. I do understand the message. The way to go is videos. Thank you for doing all this.
Hugh: Thank you. I will ask Jeffrey Fulgham to unmute and ask a question or leave a comment. Jeffrey is a funding professional.
Jeffrey Fulgham: Just a comment. Doug, it’s great to have you on here. This is cool stuff for people to listen to. I used to think years ago that this was going to be the future of fundraising. Now the future has been here for a while. This is it. I have some cool stuff for organizations we support. I have been able to be involved in producing a number of these with some great people who do work similar to what you do. The production side of it is a blast, but getting this stuff out there and being in a room when people see these stories up on a screen that is as big as half the room, and they get to see how their dollars have impacted someone’s life, short of having that person in the room, there is no better way to do that. Sometimes it’s better when they’re not in the room when it’s presented on screen. It’s tremendous stuff. I appreciate you sharing it with a lot of people and hope a lot of people get to see this and will dig in. On a scale that is not necessarily an expensive project, just being able to get something out there that is good enough to pull on the heartstrings and make a difference. Really cool.
Hugh: Thanks for coming. In 32 years of working with different kinds of nonprofits all over, not once has communications failed to come up as a primary challenge. My particular learning on leadership, communications, and funding is those are anchored in relationship. They’re also anchored in what is it we’re communicating? Talk a little bit about the discovery process you go through with someone who wants to produce a video. In that process, do they end up with a different kind of video than they originally thought they wanted?
Doug: They often will. It’s best when it’s not even us deciding. It’s when their audience tells them what they really want to see. We have a full strategy process that is a stand-alone service. We do all the video production ourselves. But you can also hire us only to do that process.
The beginning phase is baselining. We want to get a baseline that is a standard marketing approach to how you put together a communication strategy. What that looks like for video is you start by benchmarking. If you have competitors (nonprofits don’t love that word) or peer organizations, you identify them to us, and we learn about what they are doing through their video. We have access to tools that allow us to pull their social media videos and data behind them. We go to their website and look at videos there. Then we look at your own videos and understand where you’re at as an organization and what metrics you have for your videos you have produced. That’s benchmarking and creating a video audit.
Lastly, we go to your audience. We are making things for people other than ourselves. I can’t repeat that enough. As much as we think we know the people supporting our nonprofit and we think they would love whatever it is we put on the screen, it never hurts to ask. We’re often surprised by what they say. We look at two groups of people: your external audiences and internal audiences.
External would be your donors, your friends on your Facebook accounts, your email list. Those folks, we would send a survey and ask them questions about video preferences, what they’re interested in hearing about. We conduct a focus group with people you think would be good for us to talk to, a virtual one, asking them questions on Zoom and asking them to weigh in on videos. It is helpful to have a third party ask questions. They would have a hard time saying they don’t like your videos if you’re in the room. It’s best if we can be the ones to ask those questions for you. They might feel more free to share what they really think about the great work you’re doing and how it’s being communicated through video.
Then we look at internal audiences. Your chief marketing officer, your development person, your CEO, program staff, a board member or two, to do the same things. Survey and a focus group. We learn a lot of stuff. Ideally, we start off by saying, once we get the data back, this is what your external audience has said versus what your internal audience has said, and what they think about your organization and your video communications. Where are things not aligning? We bring that to the leadership organization and determine what questions people have. A great thing to find out is one thing people love to see talked about on video. It’s also great to find out how long they watch a video for, where they watch a video, when they sit down to watch videos in a day. The whole point of this is to get outside of our own conception of what we think our audiences are. Let our audiences speak. From that, we will find out if what you’re doing is spot-on or needs to change. It’s not us or you saying that; it’s your audience saying it.
Hugh: Let’s talk specifically about digging out of the hole we’re in right now. This COVID has put us in a compromising position financially. How can we use video as a tool to come forward out of this space?
Doug: Lots of nonprofits are already thinking about using video as a way to do a virtual fundraising event or gala. We have done one so far and are in the process of doing two more right now. This is one of the first things that comes to mind because many nonprofits’ biggest fundraiser is a live dinner event they have once a year. They are freaking out while figuring out how to fill that gap. Zoom is what we have used. You can also do it on Facebook. I like that you are mixing these technologies together; that’s great.
There are a lot of challenges to a virtual event. In our experience, one of the important things is changing the channel often. Continually changing who is speaking and other elements. It keeps interest up if you change the speaker frequently.
There is actually a silver lining potentially to having an event online that normally has been an in-person gala. Maybe you always invited somebody to the gala, and they could just never come. They were a professional on the road all the time. Or a single mom was unable to attend because they couldn’t arrange childcare. They can now attend your gala, and that’s great.
You can also reach new audiences who have never come to your gala before. But they would be willing to join an online thing for an hour. Normally their gala is 50s and up, it’s a black-tie affair. We suggested to create content for that audience but tweak it 40% to create an experience marketed to 20- and 30-somethings. They never go to your gala. How can we reuse some of the same elements and platform to create an experience they would relate to? Concretely, the host for the 50s and up is a 50+ person. The host for the 20s and 30s is a 25-year-old person on the junior board. It’s a perfect way to change who is the speaking voice and make it more engaging for a different audience. Your CEO can do a similar talk, but maybe you have a different story. Different donors explain why they already give.
There are bonuses you can get out of doing a virtual event. The ones we have done, and the ones we are working on, our clients don’t expect to raise the same dollar amount they have in the past, but the expenses are dramatically lower than doing a sit-down dinner and renting a hall and paying for a host and entertainment. The one we did, they were surprised because they got close to what they would have taken away from an in-person event through the virtual event because their expenses were so low. We are hopeful the other ones will do the same thing.
Another big thing we are seeing is you can provide timely updates. We recognize that nonprofits sometimes are not able to quickly generate crisis communications or provide updates about what’s happening or what they’re doing. This could be a great opportunity for more of a cell phone type video. Your CEO can start delivering a couple minutes of updates every week or two. Maybe it’s a programs person updating from where they are serving. Don’t be silent.
Video is a great opportunity for you to reach out in different ways. People will be forgiving of the production quality, especially if it’s just holding up a camera. You see what’s happening with all the video footage coming out of the protests. People want the authentic and the real, and they are willing to forgive the quality as long as the emotion is there.
Hugh: Some of the quality is fairly decent with the cell phones. It’s just the operator trouble. We have some favorite movies we connect with on BritBox through our streaming. I didn’t even remember what public television looks like anymore. We just finished Shetland from Scotland. The film work was exquisite. We looked at another one that had filming like The Office with the moving cameras that swish across the room. Having a photography background, it was distracting to me. The technique of putting together the film, having somebody like you help us, there is a branding in how you do the video. What it looks like, what the colors are, how the sound is. If you are doing an information video for a nonprofit, can you take the different videos from different events? Is there a threshold? Do you encourage people to have a bank of video that they can draw from?
Doug: Yes. The most important thing to make video watchable is audio. People are willing to give up a ton in terms of video quality, but they are unforgiving with bad audio. If you invest in anything to create higher production value for your smartphone camera usage, record in a quiet environment. Also, there are a couple great microphones that go right into your phone, be it an iPhone or Android. Rode is a well-known microphone company. Their most popular is $80. It’s a lavalier that goes right into your phone and helps out a ton with audio quality, to get professional-sounding quality. B&H is a great online store for production equipment.
The second thing about having a video library, absolutely. We are making a lot of videos with existing video content because we haven’t been filming the past few months. In a normal year, we put on 30,000-50,000 miles of traveling. Filming in Africa, India, Latin America, numerous trips which have completely shut down. We are not traveling at all internationally right now. We are using existing assets from clients to recreate new videos. Same B-roll as before, but new voiceovers. We have created Zoom voiceovers. You have someone recording a voiceover in their house, and we edit together a new B-roll from existing content to put together a new video for their fundraising campaign.
Hugh: What are you speaking into?
Doug: Audio Technica.
Hugh: Good quality. You also have a nice voice. I just got a new Mac that doesn’t have a USB port. I am speaking into my video camera, which isn’t ideal.
Doug: It sounds good.
Hugh: I have my mic right here. That’s fascinating. If you could engage people by using their footage, there is a positive, even if you are compromising a little bit on the quality. There is a certain threshold for standards. But there is bound to be some enthusiasm when people say that is my footage he included. That is an engagement tool, isn’t it?
Doug: It is. It’s helpful.
Hugh: Here is an example. The first time I conducted in Lynchburg was at Christmas. I wanted to do some videos. We have the issue with music with rights. Most of the stuff we had was original or public domain. I had a lot of stuff we could record without worrying about rights. The other stuff, we archived. But there are music rights that people ignore. There are crawlers out there, bots, that are going and listening. Facebook will shut you down if you have copyrighted material without permission. How do you source the music so it’s legal?
Doug: There are some awesome online resources in the past few years. A few we use regularly. One is called MusicBed.com. It is a video music licensing website. You can choose from zillions of songs, all professionally made, many of them by artists who produce their own albums. These are different versions of songs or other songs not on albums. Many of them have instrumental versions and versions with lyrics. When you license the track, you choose a number of options. If you are a for-profit or nonprofit. Then the size of your organization. Where you will display it. Those tracks come in between $100-$250 depending on the size of your organization. If you are big, it will be more than that. That is one of the higher-priced ones. Great stuff, but more expensive.
The next one down that we use all the time that is also fantastic is PremiumBeats.com. Professional musicians. What’s fun about that site is that unlike anywhere else, the musicians will release a track. It’s a full track. Then they create stems out of each instrument that is used in the creation of that track. Sometimes you wish a musical part lasted a little bit longer, had four more measures of that piano part before the drums kick in. Now you can. You have the piano stem that you can edit back in. Or it’s a great track, but the saxophone isn’t working for me. Just pop it off, and everything is still there. It’s a great resource with lots of flexibility in the editing process. Those are almost $49.99. Very economical use and well worth the money and the flexibility they provide you. Highly searchable.
The last one is Audio Jungle. It’s the cheapest. They are often $10-$15. There are some gems out there, but some that aren’t as good quality as the others. There are a lot of options out there. It was a hugely arduous process in the past of getting rights cleared and buying CDs that had the sample tracks and going through the licensing process. It used to be quite difficult, but now it’s straightforward and cost-effective.
Hugh: We used video in March with Lynchburg Symphony. The venue offered us a live-streaming option. We had to restrict people on stage and the kind of music. We had some original music and some Mozart. That is in the public domain. The hole would hold 800, which we were filling before COVID. We certainly couldn’t do it. We had 6,000 views that night. People are still looking at it. That was a free offering that we had sponsors for.
Going forward, we are restricted to how many people can be in the theater and how many people can be on stage for the next phase. Orchestras and choirs all over the world are dealing with the same thing. We are dealing with a hybrid of offering people a streaming seat. Per screen, people can sit around at home and watch. The top donors, we will talk about how to do dinner and a concert. Work that out with the local restaurants. Those are in the making. Those are the creative tools we need to do.
It’s important that your original is good. They have a multi-cam solution that people are switching between live. My most fun opportunity was sitting in the broadcast booth when my friend was doing the news, and I could see how they were directing all that work. There is a lot of work behind the scenes that you and your crew do just to make a 90-second video work right.
We are talking about communications, brand representation, connecting with your audience. You talked about links for different kinds of videos. Is there a frequency of new material that is important?
Doug: We did find there is a strong correlation between frequency and audience size. The more frequently you create content, especially on social media, the bigger your audience will become. If you have the opportunity and are able to generate content cost-effectively, frequently, I recommend it.
Going back to the framework of different assets, your core video asset should be made once every two or three years. The frequency there is not high. Social media videos, we’re seeing some nonprofits going from 14-15 videos a year all the way up to 500-600 videos a year, depending on the organization. It’s amazing how much they are posting video. It’s what you can afford. But the more, the better, especially on social.
Hugh: When you make a high-quality video, do you edit it for social media, or do they size it down when you upload it?
Doug: That’s a great question because certainly your brand videos should also be on your social media accounts. They will not perform well in our experience. They will not perform nearly as well as a video created for social media will perform because it’s a different animal. It’s not playing by the rules of social media. But it should be on there. Yes, they will be able to use whatever specs you give it. Put it up there, and it will play fine. You can also create a one-minute version of a longer video. Same thing for a brand film. We will create a shortened version of it that will perform better on social media.
Hugh: Great. *Sponsored by Wordsprint*
Thank you. This was informative. It made me rethink that I am under-utilizing video. We are doing multiple videos a week, but it’s always this kind of thing, talking heads on Zoom. It’s content based. Doug, what do you want to leave us with?
Doug: I will leave you with the fact that video will be a defining communications medium moving forward. I just hope your nonprofit takes advantage of it. I think your nonprofit will see tremendous benefits from engaging in more video. We all want to see your nonprofit thrive. Our world now more than ever needs to see nonprofits thrive. I just hope video will be a part of your strategy, and we’d love to help if we can.
Hugh: Visit Tectonic.Video to learn more about Doug and his work. I am ready to roll up my sleeves and make some other videos. Thank you for sharing great thoughts today with our audience.
Doug: Thank you so much. My pleasure.