For your small business, a video’s worth 10,000 words

pretty woman with cameraVideo is everywhere these days, from websites to television commercials and documentaries to social media. A good video can entice a potential client, showcase a product or service, explain a concept, and create desire. You don’t need Cecil B. DeMille to turn your video into a classic, but you do need an excellent videographer and a powerful concept to make the best video to exceed your goals.

Michael Kusek is founder of the Northampton, MA, public relations and marketing company, Communication Angle. He has produced videos for many clients, including the Boston-based theatre troupe “Gold Dust Orphans” (who launched a campaign to bring one of their productions, “Mildred Fierce” to New York); “Valley Gives”, a Western Massachusetts initiative to get people to contribute to an array of non-profits online, and Fuel For Thought®, a coconut oil-based drink developed by a Connecticut company. Kusek often works with the videographer Zach MacDonald at Milltown Productions in Northampton, MA.

“The best promotional videos are 3-4 minutes in length, because people tend to click on a video while surfing online. It’s not like sitting down to watch a film,” says Kusek, who added that his first video for the Gold Dust Orphans went longer because it had a narrative story line to it.

Kusek, working with the Gold Dust Orphans artistic director Ryan Landry, shot the video for “Mildred Fierce” on location in Provincetown, MA, in one day. Landry had pre-scripted the video, and the crew used members of the theatre company as talent. The video was ready after two weeks of editing.

“We wanted the Gold Dust Orphans video to go viral,” says Kusek, and it did. It also helped the Gold Dust Orphans exceed their fundraising goal.

“I had a bigger challenge developing the videos for Valley Gives because we were launching a new fundraising program that required explanation, and we needed animation to make our points,” Kusek. He developed two videos, one for a 2.5 minute social media campaign and one for a 30-second television commercial. “It was essential,” says Kusek, “to keep a complex program simple, energizing, and exciting.”

The keys to a successful video

1. Know what you want to say and who your audience is. Video is an integral part of a well-devised media and branding campaign. Your video cannot be stand-alone.

Bill Wagy, former TV news and sports anchor, is the head of Bill Wagy Productions in Sarasota, FL. His company does videos for small businesses, arts organizations, and events; his clients include the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, FL, and the Asolo Rep Theatre in Sarasota.

Wagy says, “You want to produce a video that’s a riveting introduction to your product or service. You’re making a first impression with your video, and it has to be clean, simple, and not busy.”

2. Work with the best videographer possible. A good videographer is usually connected with good editors, sources for soundtracks, voice-overs, and crew. Find a local one. You can save money on importing and housing an out-of-town crew. Either look at other locally-produced videos, or contact your local or regional film and video commission for referrals.

Diane Pearlman, executive cirector of the Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative, says that many people looking for good film and video automatically assume that the best talent is in New York or Los Angeles. “As a non-profit working to boost the film industry in our region, we work to bring together local filmmakers, videographers, and allied folk with both local businesses looking for talent as well as out of town folks looking to film in our region.”

Pearlman and company are presenting the first-ever Western Massachusetts Film and Media Exchange on October 24, in the hopes of bringing together the local film industry in Western Massachusetts, and businesses who need film and video. For information:

Studio 1 Productions has a good list of state film commmission offices.

Wagy (and some of the other finest videographers I’ve worked with) come to the industry from television news. “I grew up in news,” says Wagy, “so I know how to tell a story from beginning to end. I was taught to work on a deadline and a quick turn-around time. When you’re working on a budget, and the charges are hourly, every minute counts.

TV journalists often know what’s compelling in a short story. Penn Holderness, a Raleigh, NC, news anchor, filmed a family holiday video, “Christmas Jammies,” that profiled the family’s year in review. The video, far from subtle, also announced his decision to leave TV and start a production company with his wife. The video went viral, launched several more, and the Holderness family became household names, as did the Holderness business, Greenroom Communications.

Wagy advises that you find a videographer who’s interested in your business, product or service. “If the videographer’s first question is ‘What’s your budget?’ then you’re likely looking at someone who’s only interested in the bottom line.”

Wagy also warns, “Almost anyone can walk into a store, purchase some equipment, and call themselves a videographer. There’s no licensing or certification process. Make sure you research your choices. Check out their samples; ask for references. If you see a video you like, ask the business that made the video to tell you what professionals they used.”

3. Plan ahead. If you’re shooting on location, make sure you have permission to film on a site and any local permits required. Have a “Plan B” if you’re filming outdoors, in case of bad weather. Disorganization adds time to a shoot, and time is money. Bring food and drink in to the crew, so you don’t lose time with people leaving the shoot to find a place to eat.

Michael Kusek and I both consulted (at separate times) with Cognate Nutritionals, makers of Fuel For Thought®, a coconut oil beverage. The company’s founder is over 90, and I recommended that we take file footage of him speaking about the beverage’s science, even though the client might not build a new video program until a subsequent time. This kind of forethought is good insurance for a company who has an opportunity now that might not be available later.

4. Get a clear budget beforehand, and know what items can escalate in price. Voiceovers, animation, graphics, location shooting, and other factors can boost the price. Changes in shooting days, whether it’s weather or an unfinished script, can boost the cost. Make sure everyone is on the same page. A good videographer often has resources for these specialists, and often has folks he or she works with on a regular basis. That streamlines communications.

Some recommended videos:

Bill Wagy’s reel:

Bill Wagy’s YouTube Channel:

The Gold Dust Orphans first fundraising video, produced by Michael Kusek at Communication Angle.

Valley Gives 2012, produced by Michael Kusek at Communication Angle. :

Valley Gives 2013 produced by Michael Kusek at Communication Angle. .

Fuel For Thought® video: produced by Michael Kusek at Communication Angle.

Penn Holderness’ Christmas Jammies.


Mark G. Auerbach is principal at Mark G. Auerbach Public Relations, a Springfield, MA, based marketing, public relations, development and events consultancy. You can find more information about Mark at Facebook and LinkedIn.

1 comment

  1. JohnWArvanitis says:

    Great article Mark! Loved the quote from Diane.

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