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Higher Ed Marketing Memos by Michelle Monti

My career in video began as a News Producer for a local cable channel. I focused on school events and community news and had to lug heavy equipment all around town to shoot my stories.

Today, I’ve switched my focus to producing marketing videos for colleges.

Even though producing video has become less physically demanding and time-consuming than it was when I started, many of the basics still apply.

7 Timeless Video Tips for Higher Ed Marketers

#1 Compose the shot.

Act like an artist and frame the shot well. Leave a bit of head and nose room around the person’s face. If you plan on using lower third graphics, leave enough room under the person’s chin so the text ends up well-placed on screen. Be conscious of the lighting. Is an overhead light casting unflattering shadows on the person’s face? Or are they covered in shadows? Finally, pay attention to the visual elements behind the subject. Are there any legible signs or posters that could distract the viewer? If so, move.

#2 Details, details.

After you start recording but before you ask your first question, ask the person to speak – and spell – his or her entire name. You can also ask their title, class year, or other relevant information that you might want to include on the screen. Do this while recording so you will always have their information connected digitally to the interview footage. Also, review this info later to ensure that it is spelled correctly on-screen in the final piece.

#3 Shoot lots of B-roll.

People tend to forget that they will need supplemental visuals besides the talking head. There is nothing worse than getting ready to edit and realizing that you have nothing to show except the same person talking for two minutes straight. What is the person talking about and how can you illustrate their story with shots of campus, student activities, architecture, or nature? Don’t be afraid to get creative. Using good b-roll could keep your viewers engaged longer.

#4 Can you hear me now?

Social media listening

Audio matters. Is the subject close enough to the camera or phone so that their voice is being adequately picked up? When you edit, poor audio may need to be boosted and it’s difficult to do that without increasing static. Also, listen to what else is happening around you. Phones, motorcycles, a loud fan – if you can hear distractions in the background, chances are the viewer can too. If the speaker mumbles or messes up a sentence, stop and give them a chance to restate it. Don’t worry about embarrassing them – it’s better than losing what they’re trying to say.

#5 Ask permission, not forgiveness.

It is important that you get a written commitment from your subject to be in a video. Use release forms or at least, keep an email trail. In the future, you may want to repurpose the footage from their interview in ways that you don’t expect now. Cover your bases so you won’t be asked to take down a video after all of your hard work in producing it.

#6 Don’t steal.

Never use popular music as a soundtrack to your piece. YouTube will flag it, or worse, remove it altogether. Even if you use royalty-free music, be sure to credit the song as your source requests.

#7 Why are we doing this?

This last tip is actually the most important in the list. Many people produce videos “just because” they need to produce content for social channels and websites. But a video will be most effective if you understand why you are making it. What is the story? Who is the intended audience? And what do you want viewers to do after watching it? Take time to get these questions answered. Otherwise, your piece could flop.

With the prevalence of social channels and the development of new platforms, video will continue to flourish.
Statistics estimate that globally, IP video traffic will account for 82 percent of all consumer Internet traffic by 2020.

Today, video recording devices have become a tool as common as a pen used to be. And as digital storytelling continues to evolve, I’m happy that I’ll be able to say that “I was there when it all began.”

Meet the Author: Michelle Monti

Michelle Monti is a higher ed communication professional and video producer. Formerly Digital Media Specialist at Brown University, she is also a graduate of Higher Ed Experts’ professional certificate program in Social Media and Web Writing for Higher Ed.

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