By Published On: August 13, 2014

By Gary McVey

While higher education marketers have more tools than ever to communicate their messages, the good old-fashioned medium of moving pictures is still one of the best. Video has always been a powerful way to express emotion, authenticity and a sense of place. By combining it with today’s digital tools and social media networks, marketers are realizing that video can deliver more impact while reaching larger target audiences.

Following are three proven techniques for producing effective videos:

1. Know the Story You Want to Tell

Whether it’s a highly polished, scripted video or more of an authentic documentary, it’s important to know what story you’re telling. Without a cohesive storyline, you’ll be left with a series of unrelated snippets that fail to connect with viewers.

Take for example, d.trio’s recent video for the Master’s in Strategic Communication program at the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism. Program Director Steve Wehrenberg wanted to show how this graduate degree program transforms the lives and careers of its students and alumni. “We decided that an authentic documentary-style production would be a more effective way to tell our story, rather than a slick, scripted approach,” he said. “But even though it was more of a documentary, d.trio led us through a story-boarding process that was very effective.” Having a storyline drove everything, the location, the cast, the tone and the overall format.

2. Three Words: Location. Location. Location.

Why do A-List Hollywood directors travel halfway across the world to film their movies? They know how important it is to ground their stories in the right setting. For the U of M video, we filmed on campus, in the same buildings and classrooms used by students.

“Some of our competitors offer classes in newer, generic-looking office buildings,” Wehrenberg said. “We thought it was incredibly important to do the filming on our historic campus, and to visually communicate our close proximity to downtown Minneapolis by using the skyline as a backdrop. This is the place where we transform lives, and it had to look and feel authentic to that.”

3. Consider your cast

With the right people to tell your story, your video will engage and connect with viewers.

For the University’s video, we worked with program directors and staff to choose the right people to feature, including those who spoke directly and passionately about how the master’s program had transformed their lives and careers.

The video is already having an impact for the program. In just a few months, it’s been viewed over 260 times, with 55 percent of views originating from the microsite d.trio created and promoted through direct mail, digital and other tactics.

“It’s by far the best video we’ve created, and it really made a difference to bring in the professionals,” said Sarah Howard, Communications Manager for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “They helped us tell our story much more effectively than we could have on our own.”


See the “Turning Point” video d.trio created for the Master’s in Strategic Communication program at the University of Minnesota.



-Gary McVey is a guest blogger for d.trio. He is president of McVey Marketing Inc., a marketing, research and brand consulting firm based in the Minneapolis area. He has worked with more than a dozen colleges and universities, and previously served as chief marketing officer at Hamline University in St. Paul and for the Minnesota Private College Council, a 17-college consortium.


About the Author: cat-tonic

Born of curiosity and enthusiasm, we’re a scrappy group of smart, passionate marketers who work hard and play hard. We show up every day and fight for our clients who are making the world a better place. We listen with curiosity, explore deeply, ask hard questions, and sometimes put forth ideas that might make you squirm. Because we believe the status quo is good for growing mold but not much else. The way we see it, change is the way forward and the magic happens when curiosity, math, science, instinct, and talent intersect.
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