VIDEO TALES: Eight videos that show eight ways to make effective comms video


If a picture is 1,000 words then a 60-second video is worth an astounding 1.8 million.

That was the number some research from James McQuivey threw-up.

A thousand words a frame? 30 frames a second? You can see how the digits soon add up.

As a comms person in 2018, I’m fascinated by how this works. I’m always impressed by new approaches.

Here are some that caught my eye.

1. Enlisting a child who wrote a letter

Good feedback is all around. The thank you card on the noticeboard or the letter.

When Wigan Council had a letter from five-year-old Ember they realised they had a star on their hands and made her the star.

Why this works: A five-year-old can tell you something a 45-year-old council officer can’t. Besides, her family mobbed the finished Facebook video when it was posted to like and share it. That’s an army of defacto press officers right there. 

2. A thank you in their own words

As part of a recruitment campaign, Manchester City Council social care staff read a thank you card with a list of nice things people had to say.

Why this works: Reading anonymous feedback gets around GDPR and it shows the team is diverse, varied and make a difference. They’ll also be more inclined to like and share.

3. Celebrating an area

Sefton in the North West is often overshadowed by neighbouring Liverpool. Yet in the urban spread of Bootle and the seaside of Southport there are people and places to be proud about.

Why this works: Using frontline staff gives a human face for the organisation.

4. Going behind the scenes

The US Air Force used to spend 70 per cent on TV ads but has flipped the number to 70 per cent online after experimenting with sixty 15-second and 6-second videos. They know the audience they are after and will serve them a series of ads to build rapport. This led to a 16 per cent rise in people likely to apply.

Why this works: Snackable content served in bite size chunks slowly builds a picture that helps deliver evaluated results.

5. A human story of people whose lives have been helped

Charities have become wary of what has been tagged ‘poverty porn’. You may have seen it. The emaciated child next to the appeal for money. Also out of favour is the white man going to Africa being moved by their plight to solve all their problems.

It’s been a Comic Relief staple for years but is falling out of favour with those who work in the sector.

Charity: Water have taken a different approach and have a maried couple chatting about how fresh water has helped.

Why this works: It feels natural. It feels human. It could be a married couple from Dudley talking about something and above all it comes across as a bit of a love story. There they are Lijale and Alemtsehy. They’re a bit soppy about each other.


6. Focus on the real people to show how the grant has been spent

The Mayor of London’s office used instagram to show how Hackney Wick FC have used money from the Young Londoners Fund. Money has been handed over. But this is far from a cheque presentation picture at City Hall.

Why this works: By showing the players excited faces you can see how the money has made a difference. By over-laying text it reinforces the story. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan  is a supporting actor. Which means he comes across more naturally. And those in the video will like and share.


7. Stock image to make a warning stand-out

In the run-up to Storm Ali, Coast Guards wanted to warn people not to go near the water. Using pre-shot footage of a Lego character made it stand out.

Why it works: A warning message can come unexpectedly but having stock footage to hand makes it stand out as you scroll through your timeline.

8. A political message with a twist

The attack ad is a staple of the US landscape but this one really stands out.

Why it works: To an audience that puts family at the heart of what they do this makes an impact. Watch it to the end.

Full disclosure: I’ve trained Manchester City Council. Wigan Council and Sefton Council comms staff. Big thanks to Luke Waterfield for spotting the attack ad.

Picture credit: Austin Community College / Flickr.

If you are interested in how you can stay ahead and use video yourself or in your team take a look at upcoming workshops in Exeter, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh and London. Or if those dates don’t suit give me a shout 

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