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YouTube Thumbnails & Social Media Placement

There are so many facets to think about when creating and marketing a video. Sometimes you don’t think of minor details that might not seem important but actually have a huge impact on your audience – including how the thumbnail looks on various channels.  We produced an amazing video for our client yet LinkedIN insists on grabbing one of the ‘standard’ thumbnail options from the video itself rather than the custom thumbnail that we’ve created.

This is a good thumbnail because it has a human face and a name and title.  However, we don’t like the windblown look for our still images.



Facebook on the other hand grabs an image anywhere within the real thumbnail.  We think this might be because they want everyone to use their native video feature.  So we are having to ‘game’ the system by creating a thumbnail that will look great on Facebook if a large amount of traffic is through Facebook.  However, does that look good on the other channels?

There also happen to be dogs on paddle boards in the video – which is a great image to get large audiences to click. But is the rest of the content relevant?


Our client has a very specific target for this video and is in a very competitive environment where a “Win” or a “View” by the right person can make a big difference for them.  So it’s important that the video is shared on social and found through search while looking interesting enough to click.  It’s a challenge that we face everyday and if you’re using videos in your marketing, it’s time to consider the thumbnail!  It’s like the subject line of an email or the title of the book – the right thumbnail can get people to view the video – the wrong thumbnail might make people snub your video and potentially your brand.

Watch this beautiful video and learn about Perquimans Marine Industrial Park – 

Have questions or comments? Post below!


What’s so special about Millennials?

There has been endless discussion about millennials – what to do with them, how to reach them, how to get them to stay interested in you and your product, etc. Why?

If you haven’t heard the term millennial thrown around, where have you been?! They are the age group born between 1980 and 2000 and they outnumber baby boomers. Millennials have been stereotyped as “lazy and entitled” but companies that believe this stereotype will ultimately lose business.

They’re the largest demographic in the marketplace, so you need to pay attention to them. Especially if you’re a marketer. Ignore them and you’re in big trouble.


Millennials crave information and want access right now. Company websites need to include all the right information with easy accessibility. With so much information on the web available, they can thoroughly research products and companies before buying, so it’s essential to take advantage of this and properly market your company and product. This goes for any potential customers. If they can’t find you, they won’t know about you. Simple, right?

71% of online shoppers claim that the most important thing a brand can do is value the customer’s time (according to Salesforce). You might have heard “millennials want it now”. They want quick responses or they can move on to the next guy, because that guy/company does respond, showing millennials their business is valued.

You need to create a personal connection between millennials and your product. Without taking the time to learn about their wants and needs, it takes away your ability to serve that customer base. Millennials change their wants and needs constantly to suit new technology and products being created each day. Businesses need to keep on their feet and adapt to ever changing customer demands and new technologies as they appear.

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Check out one of our latest projects! We used animation to tell local nonprofit CASA’s story for this year’s Blueforest Gives Back project.


Animation has endless possibilities. Think about it. You can utilize any style and customize until it’s just right. That is why animation can be an essential part of your arsenal.


Using animation in your video marketing allows you to convey important messages and stories that you may not be able to do with live action. Even if live action storytelling is possible, animation stands out and can be personalized to fit your business.


Animation’s limitless scope makes it a highly effective tool. You can use everything from simplistic drawing to intense special effects to capture your story.

We have a monthly Animation Inspiration newsletter that highlights the various forms of animation we use here at Blueforest Studios. Sign up today to receive monthly animation inspiration and ideas you can use for your business marketing! Click below.


Contact us today for your animation needs!


How to Conduct an Interview for Your Nonprofit Video

Conducting an interview is a skill that takes years to master. I consider it one of the most important skills I’ve developed over 12 years in this business.

Here are a 7 tips that will help you get the best results when you are interviewing someone for your nonprofit video.

#1 Be what you want.

Probably the most important thing you can do when you are interviewing is to lead by example. If you want your interviewee to be relaxed and comfortable, make sure you speak in a relaxed and comfortable way.

#2 Give them some coaching.

Once the lights are on and you are both sitting down, give them a little coaching on how to answer the questions. This will give you a chance to demonstrate how you want them to speak, will give them a chance to get used to the lights and cameras, and will give them a bit of valuable information.

#3 Only ask one question at a time.

If you ask multiple questions at a time it will confuse them and encourage them to give you long winded answers that will be harder for you to use in the video.

#4 Have a list of questions, but don’t use it.

You should always be prepared with a paper that has their name and the questions you want to ask. But once you start talking, you should be flexible enough to make follow-up questions that relate to what they just said and go with the flow.

I usually ask the first question and don’t look back at the paper until the very end to make sure I didn’t miss anything I was planning on.

#5 Go for the story.

Most nonprofits are built around great stories. You are changing peoples lives! When you write your interview questions, you should ask questions that reveal their story. Instead of asking who, what, or how, ask “why?”

#6 Don’t be afraid of silence.

Sometime they will give you a short answer that didn’t address what you were asking. Or you may sense they are holding back to hide their emotions. This would be a great time for an awkward silence. Just keep looking at them and count to 5 in your head. I’ve gotten some of my best answers by just not speaking and waiting for them to really open up. (And yes, I learned that from Barbara Walters!)

#7 Keep it loose.

Occasionally you will get someone who is so nervous about the lights and cameras they freeze. If your interviewee gets stuck on a question, don’t let them hang frozen for too long. If you just sit there they will begin to get more and more embarrassed and the interview will fail. After a few moments of freezing, I like to move on to the next question and come back to the one they froze on if we need to at the end.

So there you are. Good luck with your interview!


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YouTube Blog: How to get the related videos to make sense!

How does YouTube decide that a police chase is related to a birthday prank video for our boss?  This and many other questions arise when using YouTube for our business and for our clients.  We once had a client who had the ‘Top 7 Reason’ in his description; well it turned out that the number 7 brought on a bunch of crazy videos in the YouTube algorithm.  See on the screen shot below that 4 of the 6 related videos were produced by our company – however the other two (with motorcycles) seem totally random.

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Since YouTube can’t actually watch the video it is relying on the title, description, tags, and captions that are included with the video. In the case of our client with the “Top 7” we made it into a “Top 6” and the totally unrelated videos disappeared and others that were actually related started to appear.

So why should you even worry about the related videos?  If YouTube thinks that your video is about police chases, it may not return it as a result when people are searching for Birthday Pranks; and if you really want to be known for Birthday Pranks than you will be unsatisfied with the results.

The power of YouTube really lies in the fact that it’s the number 2 search engine  – so you want to make sure that YouTube knows what your video is about and gives it as a potential result when people search YouTube and more importantly Google.

For instance, we definitely want to rank high for our own name – and if a potential client sees our website, social media channels and a video by us they might just click on the video.  Imagine if your business’s video was ranked high for your most important keyword??

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So the next time you post a video be sure to go back and check on all the text associated with the video and for the ‘related’ videos that show up.  This might give you an idea for what YouTube thinks your video is about. You can also check your YouTube analytics after several days and many views to see what keywords your viewers are entering when they find your video.  We always go back and check our videos and our client’s videos to make sure that the keywords and phrases match the content and those related videos.

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What is Public Relations?

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The PR Puzzle

“A developing company is looking to hire a PR/advertising person,” I read yesterday in a Facebook status of Katya, my former colleague in Russia. “PR slash advertising, right,” I thought to myself. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine a PR guru like James Grunig, for example, putting an equals sign between public relations and advertising… In many companies around the world, however, such association is pretty common. In Russia, the words PR, advertising, and marketing are often used interchangeably and essentially refer to one thing and one thing only: promotion of goods or services. Is that in any way different from the American culture? Let’s get brainy and try to figure it out.

Curiously, the abbreviation ‘PR’ for Russians would typically evoke a set of negative emotions. The deal here is that excessive political PR blackened the reputation of the whole PR process in the 1990s – right when it came into existence after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Take PRopaganda for instance, which is the name of a large local public relations firm: Can you really expect good things from the company where PR and propaganda merge?!

PR in Russian language is also often used as a verb describing a public figure or an organization trying to boost their popularity through dubious activities. See a politician in a news report bragging about equipping local schools with newest computers? Don’t doubt for a second that the guy is ‘PRing’ himself. Such skewed understanding of PR is not unique to just Russia and is observed in other countries of the former USSR as well – in Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine.

So what would the ‘correct’ interpretation of PR be? Most likely it would sound something like ‘communication between an organization and groups of people affected by this organization, where all parties should benefit.’ PR would imply listening for feedback and allowing for dialog between the organization and the society. Unfortunately, most organizations are far from working in line with this ‘true’ purpose of PR. Public relations practitioners usually act as marketers, trying to urge people to buy the product instead of putting efforts into upholding the company’s reputation in the society.

Blueforest Studios recently held a contest for local nonprofits in the Triangle area called Blueforest GivesBack. Factors determining proper PR, such as community presence and social engagement, served as important criteria for our judges in selecting finalists. Blueforest is going to announce who the finalists are really soon!

What do you think public relations stand for? Press releases? Corporate social responsibility? Two-way communication? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

About the author: Vlad is an intern at Blueforest Studios and a 2nd year grad student at NC State. Today he’s sharing thoughts on his field of study – PR – and how the purpose and functions of PR in his home country – Russia – differ from the U.S.


Super Bowl 2015 Ads – Why did they do that?

Let’s be honest, the Super Bowl is not only about football but all about the advertisements. They’re everywhere whether we are aware of them or not: months before Super Bowl, during the playtime, and after the game. What makes the Super Bowl so grand is how it connects Americans through this one social event. Even though it’s suppose to be about football, it is really about being a part of this cultural event – the advertisements, the products, the pre-game and game-day rituals. Everybody is talking about the game, and the best and worst commercials of the night.

The commercials are what make many people tune in as they are known to be amazing, well thought-out ads with familiar faces like celebrities and fan commercial favorites from certain companies. Many of last night’s commercials have people talking about the good and the bad ads – which is the sole purpose of these ads, to get everyone remembering and talking about their advertisement and company. Everyone has their own opinion about which ads were a hit and which were a miss. Many big companies have multiple commercials to target different audiences and portray different messages.

A favorite of the night was the Budweiser Lost Puppy commercial. This ad was so heartwarming, a short story of a puppy lost then brought home. The purpose of this commercial was to evoke a happy and inspiring emotional response in the audience tied to their traditional Budweiser Clydesdales horses and their puppy. They did an excellent job to telling a story that people want to relate to.


Another commercial Budweiser had was a different style. The “Brewed the Hard Way” took an interesting attack on craft beer. In contrast with the Lost Dog commercial, this ad focused on distinguishing Budweiser beer from craft beer. There advertisement didn’t work as well as they hoped and their has been some backlash. As craft beer continues to become increasingly popular, they are trying to play up their traditional tasting beer by mocking craft beer. They admit that their beer is not to be “fussed over” or “dissected”, but this says their beer  that they mass produce has no differentiating taste because it’s sending the message that it’s “just beer” so just drink it. Not a smart advertising strategy to admit that Budweiser beer is a one note, uninteresting beer.


Another well done ad was “Invisible Mindy” by Nationwide. It featured celebrity Mind Kahling and Matt Damon and uses comedy and relatability to connect to the audience. The concept is that Mindy is “invisible” so she does whatever she wants, but in reality she’s not invisible, people just ignore her and the message is that Nationwide doesn’t do that to customers. It’s a light and fun ad that people enjoy as it uses familiarity with well known celebrities and funny ideas which is a great advertising tool that makes the commercial memorable.


Nationwide had another advertisement that has been very controversial called “Make Safe Happen”. It features a young boy not having any experiences because he died in an household accident. They tried to evoke an emotional response to make the audience connected to the commercial but the commercial was poorly done as many people have experienced this lost. Many are angry that they chose to do that ad to sell their product, especially as it was shown during the Super Bowl which portrays insensitivity and just wanting business. They were trying to convey the message that accidents happen and can be prevented but it looks like they are using the death of children to sell insurance. This shows how using ads for an emotional response doesn’t always work and can bring controversy. Sure people are talking about their company but it’s not the good kind and it will hurt their business.


Advertisement is important for companies to show their products and have their name out there. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do so. The main point to remember is that your advertisements should clearly portray your company’s goals and products. The Super Bowl commercials are entertaining and great to watch, but companies need to make sure the audience knows what they are trying to say and sell.

That being said, over here at BlueForest Studios we LOVE craft beer!


Everyone’s Favorite Day for Commercials: The Big Game

My favorite commercial in the last several years comes from the “Big Game” of 2011. I’ve been a humongous Star Wars fan since my parents took me to see the films in the 90’s when they were being digitally remastered and shown in theaters again. If you’re reading this you probably know which commercial I’m already talking about.


Volkswagen truly captured the same childhood imagination (and desire for learning how to control The Force) I felt at that age. I’d like to think I’m going to buy a car that can turn on with the press of the button in hopes to do this to my future children.


Of course, who could forget the sweet story of friendship told in a minute time frame by Budweiser last year? I’m a sucker for anything with dogs in it but this is a legitimately beautiful piece of work.


Sure I’m bringing this up because Sunday will bring commercials filled with humor and sincerity. But does this only have to be during one day of the entire year? Absolutely not!


We take pride here at Blueforest Studios in creating content that is both engaging and informative. The most engaging way to capture the attention of your audience is to tell a story.


We certainly think adding a pinch of humor also works too.


So as the new year continues to roll on consider us for your marketing needs. We are storytellers that want to tell your story!


And if you are part of a non-profit in the Triangle area reading this consider applying for our free video giveaway! The window for submissions is closing on the 31st of this month. To check out more information visit our blog post from December here:



Tips for Looking Your Best On Camera


Are you appearing on camera soon? Whether it’s for an impromptu shoot, a professional corporate web video, or tv there are a few things you can do to make yourself look your best!

  • Take a deep breath. – If your heart is beating a thousand beats a minute it’s okay. :)
  • Lower your chin down a bit. – When people are on camera, they tend to ever so slightly raise their chin up.
  • Talk normally. – I’m guessing you are mic’d up. Avoid the urge to speak louder than you normally would.
  • Smile if appropriate. – It radiates through your eyes that you love what you do. It also keeps the viewer more engaged.
  • If you have a teleprompter use it but then lose it. – If you want to seem like you aren’t reading then don’t read. Unless highly trained, most people don’t feel or look genuine when they are reading.
  • Don’t be afraid to watch part of the video and then do it again. – It’s usually a lot easier to do more re-takes while everything is already set-up instead of tearing everything down and then deciding you weren’t happy with the way you looked or sounded.
  • Try to avoid really patterned clothing items that might create moire.
  • A little powder/foundation can really help with shine (guys you too).


Want to learn more? Comment below!


The Power of the Play Button

I find myself scrolling through pictures on my iPhone often. I like to reminisce. Mixed in with the pictures are some videos I’ve taken — mostly of my kids. Both my toddler son and daughter love to grab my phone any chance they get. And I find it fascinating to watch what they do once they get it. Sometimes they immediately go straight to one of the apps I’ve downloaded for them. But, other times they head to the photo section. Their little fingers scroll through quickly from picture to picture. Occasionally stopping to giggle for a second or to turn the phone towards me to show me something they want me to see. “Gook” my daughter says instead of “look” smiling. But, any time they see a play button it’s game over. No matter how quickly they’ve been scrolling, if they catch a glimpse of that triangle they stop mid scroll or scroll backwards to find it again.

The power of the play button.

It’s like a magnet. You have to know what’s behind the thumbnail. On YouTube it’s even red. It’s almost like it’s telling you not to click it. But you have to. And that’s why video is so powerful. If you have a well written story then you’ve got something powerful. Add an image and voila even more powerful. But, add a video and you’ve just increased your audience engagement by a lot.

Video by itself isn’t enough. The video needs to be good. It needs to speak to your audience in a way that represents you, your brand, your company. And once you put one out that people like they’ll want more.

So think about what you stand for and how you are delivering your messages in 2015. If a toddler with a very short attention span is willing to stop for a moment to click the play button then think about what your potential audience may be willing to do.