I recently got an email from a friend who was looking for some advice on a video project her organization needs for their anniversary gala NEXT October. Not this October. October 2019! I basically did a cartwheel before replying with high fives of congratulations for being so on the ball.
It’s not surprising that this kind of forward-thinking is not the norm. Most people working for mission-driven organizations have so much on their plates that they have just enough bandwidth to juggle what’s in front of them right now, or maybe a few months down the line.
But here’s the thing, when you start planning six months, eight months, even twelve months ahead of when you’ll actually need your video project, there are some serious benefits – to the project, and to your full plate.
Here are just a few:
Time to make a comprehensive, collaborative plan – If you come to a production company just a few months before you need the final product, you are missing some key opportunities to have impact with your video project or campaign. By beginning that partnership sooner you can develop the strongest possible story concept – which is what you should really be hiring them for. Often people just focus on the production, but if the story concept isn’t strong, the production and final product won’t be strong either.
In addition, you can often pinpoint other opportunities for sharing your video with your audience – whether that’s thinking about using short teasers of the main video for social media campaigns or identifying people to act as beta testers to hone the message before sending out the final video. Deep dive planning is the most essential part of creating a video that is worth your investment. And not surprisingly, that kind of planning takes time.
Better opportunities for filming things that will make your video stronger – One of the key elements of making a video that rises above the sea of videos out there, is to find a compelling story and film it as it’s happening. A health organization telling a story about a groundbreaking research study can have a much more compelling video if it’s focused on the story of someone on the brink of receiving care that illustrates the findings of the study (rather than if it’s focused on a talking head telling us why the research is important). Similarly, if your organization is highlighting the work of grant recipients or change-makers, those stories are much more powerful if the camera can follow them while they are doing the actual work. Even better if you can capture moments happening before, after, and during.
Ensuring you can work with the team you want to work with – If you have a tight timeline (2-3 months), you can almost certainly find a company that will put something together for you. But to work with the company that’s the best fit for you, you need to get on their schedules sooner than later. We’re currently booking projects with spring 2019 end dates. We do this because our calendar fills up, but also because we really value the projects that come out of partnerships that are fully developed and collaborative.
Creating an ease-filled process for your organization (and yourself!) – If you’re tasked with overseeing a video project for your organization, it can become your full-time job, but your other full-time job doesn’t go away. Locking in the right production company early allows you to have a clear sense of when your time (and the time of other stakeholders on your team) will be needed, what pieces of the process are collaborative, and what pieces are happening behind the scenes as you take care of your other responsibilities.
People often wait until they have a fully-formed idea to reach out to a video firm. But if you want to get the most out of working with a team of professional storytellers, it’s best to connect before your plan is fully formed. Even if that means all you have is a vague idea of needing a video to coincide with a particular thing that’s coming up for your organization – anniversary, research release, awareness campaign, giving goal.
So get started early. Seriously, your future self will thank you.