I made videos, and you can too.

In the age of Facebook and twitter, we all know that shorter is better. So if pictures are worth 1,000 words, they’re pretty valuable in the never-ending quest to capture your public’s attention. I now encourage you to take this one step further: how about engaging your audience with video?

As the public relations coordinator for Elon’s alternative break service trips, I have been thinking a lot throughout the semester about different ways to publicize these trips to a campus that prides itself on having opportunities. Lots of opportunities. To cut through the clutter, I needed to go beyond creating posters and putting dates on the campus calendar. So I got an idea: interview a student who had previously participated on a trip and make a testimonial video for each.

This might sound a lot of work, but it wasn’t. For each video, which range in length from 1:00 to 2:30, I probably worked for 3 hours, which included filming and editing. For example, take the first video I made featuring my friend Chelsey, who went to Honduras. I set up an interview time in front of Elon’s picturesque Lake Mary Nell and filmed her speaking for about 10 minutes. I used a Sony PDX-10 camera to do this, which is the most basic camera I have available to me as an Elon communications student.

I then took my tape to Elon’s communications building, where I logged and captured the footage using Final Cut Pro, the best software available to me. I then spent about 2 hours cutting out the footage I didn’t want, rearranging her comments, adding pictures and music, and exporting the final product. Here it is:

Now, you might be thinking that this sounds complicated, and that you don’t have the same resources as Elon’s School of Communications. But there are ways to make this process easier. For one, you can use whatever handheld camera you might personally own for filming. The video quality won’t differ all that much. As far as video editing goes, I think the Final Cut software (by Apple) is overwhelmingly fancy for someone who’s not a regular movie maker. So if you don’t have $1,000 to drop on the software, there are other options. Final Cut Express, which I have never used, seems to be perfectly sufficient for the kind of work I’ve done with video. It’s only $200, a lot more feasible than the Pro version. For PC users, here’s a list of movie making software available for you as I, unfortunately, have no experience making movies on a PC. Do some web research and you will find something that suits your expertise and available resources.

So the moral of my story is video is not impossible. In fact, it is fun and is a great way to engage with your audience. Having fellow students speak about their personal experiences on these trips has been a great way to get other students interested. And creating a YouTube page for your organization is just another way to increase your internet presence. Check ours out at www.youtube.com/elonvols. I encourage you to explore the opportunity the next time you need to increase awareness about an event or program, show your volunteers or donors how an event turned out, or tell your members about a new development.

And you never know. You might create something viral (remember the Pink Glove Dance?) and garner even more publicity than you originally thought possible!

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