Abigail Disney on Women, War & Peace [Video Interview]

Abigail E. Disney is a filmmaker, philanthropist, and scholar. Her filmmaking career began with a documentary film, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, made with Emmy Award-winning director Gini Reticker. She is currently Executive Producer of Women, War & Peace,  a bold new five-part PBS television series challenging the conventional wisdom that war and peace are men’s domain.

In the following video interview Sun & Moon Vision Productions producer, Kathy Sangha, sits down for a Q&A with Abigail Disney:

Further description of Women, War & Peace as posted on pbs.org: The vast majority of today’s conflicts are not fought by nation states and their armies, but rather by informal entities: gangs and warlords using small arms and improvised weapons. The series reveals how the post-Cold War proliferation of small arms has changed the landscape of war, with women becoming primary targets and suffering unprecedented casualties. Yet they are simultaneously emerging as necessary partners in brokering lasting peace and as leaders in forging new international laws governing conflict. With depth and complexity, Women, War & Peace spotlights the stories of women in conflict zones from Bosnia to Afghanistan and Colombia to Liberia, placing women at the center of an urgent dialogue about conflict and security, and reframing our understanding of modern warfare.

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What Every Business Should Have on Their Website…

A Video, of course! There aren’t many serious businesses these days that don’t have a website, but not even half of all websites contain video. If you have been following social media trends, I’m sure you are aware that having video on your website makes it 52 times more likely to show up on the first page of Google search results. That puts you well ahead of many of your competitors. But here’s another interesting tidbit: websites without video experience a bounce rate*  of 87%, and the average time spent on the site without video is only 42 seconds! On the other hand, users who visit websites with video spend an average of 5 minutes and 50 seconds… that’s a huge difference!

Just think about what people could do on your site during those extra 5 minutes: purchase your product or service, make a donation, or sign up on your email or social media lists. You have to admit, there are a lot more possibilities to engage them.

That being said, you should get a video clip on your website TODAY! And, I have an easy way for you to do it, even if you have no camera, or editing software, or a budget to have a video produced. All you need is a basic point and shoot camera and a couple hours. I recently visited a restaurant in Northern Utah, Bella’s, owned by a high school classmate of mine, Joe Cottam. I enjoyed the food, atmosphere and service so much, I snapped a few pictures, recorded 12 seconds of video and created this video using a free online video creation tool called Animoto:

Note, there are only 7 pictures and 3 video clips (of only 3 seconds long). All I did was upload the pics and video clips to Animoto, choose some music from their library, and using my free account, I created this 30 second video highlighting the fresh Mexican food experience I had at Bella’s.

Try it out and you can have video on your website today! Need help getting started? Contact me!

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*people who go to the homepage and leave without taking any other action.

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Content Is Key: 3 tips for great video storytelling

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, your videos should look and sound as good as possible… but CONTENT is key. If you don’t have a great story to tell and engage your audience with, you don’t have a good video, let alone a video that may go viral.

This may seem like a no brainer, but we’ve worked with many organizations who seemed to have a skewed idea for what is going to make their video pop. There are several pitfalls businesses and nonprofits make when producing their videos, here’s a list of practical tips to keep you from making them as well:

Tip #1: Don’t let politics dictate your video!

Many organizations (and nonprofits seem to be especially susceptible to this) write their video based on who they are going to put in it, rather than thinking of good content – a heartfelt story, motivating statistics, exciting testimonials, etc. Companies are letting the politics of who to include in the video dictate the content. Generally these companies get into post-production (editing) and realize their video lacks the emotional impact they could have achieved to promote their cause, product or services. Write your video script to tell a good story, then invite the key players who can tell the story best.

Tip #2: If you can’t write a good story, hire a professional

Businesses and nonprofits often stumble into the pitfall of writing their own script, then handing it to a professional to shoot and edit. However, unless you are a marketing or business communications expert with experience in writing for video, you will most likely end up with content that is lacking in clarity and emotional impact. Businesses sometimes choose this route to save money, yet I’ve seen more companies end up re-shooting parts of their video because of this, and shooting is considerably more expensive than hiring a writer.

Most video production companies have vast experience in writing great scripts, as well as producing and editing your video. It’s important to find a production professional that shares a connection to your services or products, yet is less involved in your company’s operations to provide more objectivity, and find meaningful ways to connect with your target audience.

This video was created to help motivate viewers to sign a petition to change California Sexual Predators law. Over 8500 viewers watched the clip and Chelsea's law was signed by the Governor, Sept. 2010.

Tip #3: Don’t create a “one-size-fits-all” video

Businesses and nonprofits often try to maximize their videos by creating them for multiple purposes and varying audiences. For example, a nonprofit may want to create a single video that will educate their clientele about a particular issue, motivate donors at an annual gala dinner, and serve as an orientation video to volunteers. This doesn’t typically work as each target audience will connect differently to each type of video. Before writing your video, you should decide on your target audience and message, if this means you create multiple videos for multiple audiences, then so be it. Your videos will be much more impactful that way, and you’ll also have more video content to enhance your companies website.

And one more thing… Keep it short and sweet

ComScore reports that the average online video is 4.1 minutes, while most viewers watch videos 2-3 minutes long. This means to keep your audience engaged, you need to produce a video with a compelling story in less than 3 minutes.

At Sun & Moon Vision Productions, we provide full production services (including script writing), but also varying levels of support and consultation for companies/nonprofits looking to self produce. Contact us, we’ll provide a free consultation for your next video production.

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3 Ways Online Video can Help You Save Money!

Online Video is a tool to help you make money, and save money too! By now, most of you are probably aware that if you aren’t using video to promote your company’s services or productions online, you’re missing a golden opportunity. After all, your website has a 52x greater chance of being found if it contains video… and your clients can’t buy your services or products if they can’t find you online. Once they find your website, having video increases the chance that they will stay on your web pages longer. Studies show that web surfers stay on websites with videos for an average of 6 min., while those without only 57 seconds – that’s a significant amount of time folks! So of course, a promotional video can make you money, but what types of online videos save you money?

I work with business – large and small, nonprofits, schools and universities that use videos in many ways, here’s a list of some of the most notable uses of video that will save you money:

Employee Communications

If you don’t have regular communications with your employees, you are probably experiencing some human resource difficulties. Many of the clients I work with have a difficult time scheduling an “all staff” meeting without disrupting services or sales time with their clients. A great way to have regular communications with your staff, without the hassle of scheduling, is to record a 3-5 minute video on a regular basis (weekly, bi-weekly or monthly) and post to an employees only page on your website or blog. Be sure to post somewhere that you can allow comments or questions to be added by the employees and don’t forget to answer them in the next communication.

Using video in this way can be a creative and fun way to communicate to your employees or even between employee groups, and can enable your company to save money since employees won’t have to attend another time consuming meeting, and employees who work in the field or at an alternate location won’t be charging mileage for driving to the meeting. (Not to mention the liability companies incur when they have employees driving between locations!)

Mandatory Training

Every organization has mandatory trainings they provide for each employee or volunteer, but it’s not always convenient to schedule a facilitated training each time a new member gets added to the team, or an employee/volunteer  requires one. I’ve worked with many large and small companies who have either recorded a live training on video or created a professionally produced training video, then posted to a video library where the files can be watched as needed and when convenient for employees.

Again, offering a video library full of the trainings needed for employees saves money by decreasing the amount of people needed for a training (at the very least a facilitator and an employee), saves time for employees (which is money), and guarantees your trainings always contain the messages your employees need to hear to keep the work place safe, free of harassment, and to ensure that they are knowledgeable at their jobs.

How to Videos

Creating “how to” videos is a great way to both make money and save money too. Having your customers and clients (or potential ones) watch videos about how to best use your products or services is a wonderful way to show off your offerings (which may make you a sell) and can keep customers and clients from calling you with questions about using your product or accessing your service – saving you money. Some of the best “how to” videos are actually created by your existing clients/customers bringing you a free source of acquiring the video, a great testimonial, and access to all of the contacts and friends they send the video link to.

These online videos are only a few of the many that can help drive revenue and/or save you money, and you can create them economically – an important feature in today’s market. Let me know if we can help you.

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2 FREE Software Tools to Help You Create Better Videos

Creating online videos is one of the best ways to brand your business products and services and to generate traffic to your website , which will ultimately make you more money. After you’ve started creating your first videos, you may realize you need a few tools to help you achieve a more professional look. I’ve found these FREE software programs that can help:

Tool #1 – You need a prompt.

If you’ve tried producing a personal video talking directly into a webcam or camera, I’m sure you’ve realized it’s tougher than it seems to seamlessly deliver your message, on point, without having some sort of a prompt, whether that’s stickies adhered to the frame of your computer, or one of your wiggling children holding your oversized notes to the side of the camera.

Professionals use a device known as a teleprompter which delivers scrolling text that is reflected from a mirror the camera shoots through. This requires hardware and software that can be very costly. However, I’ve found this FREE software that you can download for Mac or Windows that does the same thing.

Prompt Lite is an easy to use program that you can type into directly or import text and it will scroll your script for you, at your desired speed, while you record your video.

Tool #2 – Instead of talking at people, show them what you are talking about.

Jing adds visuals to your conversations. You can snap a picture of your screen or record a video of your onscreen action. This software is great for “how to” videos where you can visually demonstrate how you do something on the computer or internet.

These are two great tools that will help you create better videos. Try them and let me know what you think.
Do you have cool tools you are using to create videos? Share your comments below.

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Lets Talk Cameras: Posting Online Videos Recorded with Webcams [Video]

If you are reading this blog, it’s probably because you’ve come to the conclusion that you need to post video(s) to optimize your online marketing . Once you’ve explored and scripted some ideas and concepts you know will engage your target audience, you’re ready to start shooting your video.  If you’ve decided to produce your first video yourself, you might be wondering if you will need to purchase an expensive camera.

The good news is, you probably already have a camera to get you started. If you have a computer you’ve purchased within the last couple of years, it will have a webcam. You can easily start recording your message now.

A few things to keep in mind when using webcams: position yourself right in front of the computer, and at the same height as the webcam a short distance away. If you play with it a little, you will notice that if you don’t follow this simple rule, you’ll get some warped images. Also, make sure the room you are recording in has enough light and is reasonably quiet and uncluttered. You will also want to purchase an inexpensive microphone and keep it close, as well. (many big box electronic stores carry microphones for podcasting, these will work for this purpose too.)

I know there are bloggers out there who may be telling you not to worry about quality, only content, but try to make your video look and sound as good as possible. You don’t want to give people a reason to push stop before your video is finished playing.

Video shot with a webcam has a certain look and quality, adequate for delivering short personal messages, but you may need your video to look more professional or to be high definition. In that case you’ll need to consider investing in a better camera, or hire a production company who has all of the camera’s, lights, audio and equipment necessary for professional videos.

But, in the meantime, use your webcam to at least record a welcome message for your website, once you’ve posted it, send me the link. I’d like to see it!

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3 Tips for Successful Online Videos

In my last post I wrote about the benefits of using video as part of your overall social media marketing, but just to refresh your memory, Forrester Research reports that any given video stands about a 50 times better chance of appearing on the first page of search results than any given text page.

That being said, where do you start in creating a video for your business or nonprofit? Below are three tips to get you started:

Define your target audience.

You need to understand who you want to target with your video. I would suggest having as narrow of an audience so you can so your message is focused.

Develop your concept/story.

The overall concept of your video must be well thought out and planned. Don’t expect to turn the camera on and just start babbling about how great your services or products are. That’s not interesting and the last thing people want to see is someone talking at them. Use your video to tell a story and show them how your service or product is going to benefit them, or others (as may be the case for nonprofits looking to attract donors.)

Consider Production Professionals.

The first question you may be asking is should I self produce or hire a professional? This is a question that can be best answered by looking back at the first two tips. It really depends on your target audience and message and deciding what it is you want to ultimately convey. If you want to start producing videos about how your organization ticks, or a behind the scenes look at your next theatrical production, or to provide a video address to your target audience highlighting your recent activities you may find it sufficient to create the video yourself. These types of videos generally only get viewed online.

If you want your video to highlight your company/nonprofit and products or services and you want it to be something you can play during presentations, display in your lobby and at trade shows, or screen during yearly gala events, as well as to post online, you may want to consider hiring a professional. You can hire a coach to help you produce the video, or a professional crew with the expertise to take your creative idea through script development,  shoot with a professional camera, lighting and audio, and can edit your piece to include branding for your company. These types of videos generally have a longer shelf life – often being used by a company or nonprofit for a couple of years.

So, what are you waiting for? If you have an online presence (website, social media sites, e-newsletter etc.) it’s expected you have a video. If you need some inspiration check out my websites Moon River Pictures, Inc. and  Sun & Moon Vision Productions (nonprofit) and YouTube channel. Post comments or questions below and I’ll include them in future blog posts where you will be taken through more in-depth self-production techniques. Follow this feed or register for the blog so you won’t miss future posts.

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Video – an Effective Strategy for Social Media Marketing

Five years ago, the first video was posted on YouTube. A year later, in 2006, YouTube reported that 65,000 videos were uploaded daily. In January 2009, 15 hours of video were uploaded to YouTube every minute. According to Mashable that’s the equivalent of Hollywood releasing over 86,000 new full-length movies into theaters each week!

What does this mean to your group, business or organization? Video is 52 times more likely to show up on the first page of Google search results, which is where you want your audience to find you. The rising trend of uploading video illustrates that more and more people are looking toward video for more interesting communications.

Through video we receive a combined stimulation of the visual and auditory senses that creates an emotional response that can’t be accomplished by a website or in a blog post, tweet or facebook message alone. However, simply uploading a video to YouTube in hopes that people will search and find it inside of the site won’t work. The video needs to be part of your overall strategy for social media marketing and embedded in your website, and posted on your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media accounts.

I have had the opportunity to consult with many businesses and nonprofits about effectively using video for their promotions, and the one piece of advice I always share is: don’t use video to tell viewers something, use video to show viewers something. If what you are offering isn’t showable, don’t create a video or find a way to visually illustrate your message, like in this YouTube video Social Media Revolution that has generated over 1 million views.

Also, don’t post a video just to have a video up on YouTube; the concept and content must be inspirational, educational and/or entertaining or you’ll just look desperate.

After you’ve posted your video and disseminated to all of your social network contacts, ask them to share it and make sure you reply to the comments that people post to the video. After all, the goals for social media marketing are to build community, connect with your audience, build collaborations and stimulate conversation so don’t let the conversation end with you. When you are ready to create your next video, make sure to answer the questions generated by your first video.

Are you using video as part of your social media marketing strategy? If so, share it with us here.

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Starbucks Online Video Marketing: 1 Simple Strategy Anyone Can Use

One of the goals for video sharing via social media is to engage customers. Often businesses will develop and produce a promotional video for their organization, post it to their website and social media outlets, and then ask the questions of themselves, now what? How do we get the customers coming back to our social media sites? The answer is: you have to continue to create new online video and other tools of engagement, which also means you need to be constantly coming up with new and creative ideas.

I recently watched a video by Michael Stelzer, Senior Editor of Social Media Examiner, interviewing Alex Wheeler, Director of Digital Strategy at Starbucks about their online video and social media marketing. As you may know, over the past year Starbucks rolled out a new instant coffee product they call Via. Wheeler reports that for the original launch of Via (in just 2 markets) they predominantly used social media to listen to customers who were trying the new product and then when they had the national roll-out a few months later, they asked the consumers to share “Via moments” – whether out in the wild or at the office through both photos and videos. She states, “[social media] technology is a way to extend the brand presence.”

This is a great strategy that businesses can use no matter how big or small you are! How are your customers using your product? Ask them to share that with you and create a photo montage or video with brand stories they send to you. It’s your brand, but it’s fun to let other people market if for you.

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