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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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The Winner of the 1st Annual Blueforest Givesback!

It was a very tough decision as every applicant is an important nonprofit helping to better our communities. We started Blueforest Givesback because we love getting involved in the community in many different ways. Blueforest Givesback is another way for us to help local nonprofits with what we do best, telling a great story. After much consideration, we’re happy to announce the winner.

Drum roll please……

CASA! 

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CASA is a Raleigh-based nonprofit housing developer and property manager. Focusing primarily on multi-family rental properties for people living with disabilities and veterans who have experienced homelessness. CASA’s housing model ends homelessness for people in great need by offering safe, permanent places to live. CASA manages more than 340 apartments and homes across the Triangle (Wake, Durham and Orange counties) and has 22 more currently under construction. CASA’s CEO Debra King was recently Tarheel of the Week by the News & Observer!

Blueforest Studios is excited for this opportunity to work with CASA in creating a video that will help CASA accomplish their mission. Blueforest Studios and CASA will work together to broaden their impact and raise awareness of the organization. CASA was selected to receive the 1st BlueForest GivesBack award because of its successful track record of assisting often overlooked members of our community, its dynamic leadership, and their plan to further their measurable impact. Learn more about CASA at http://www.casanc.org/

We thank all the applicants that applied to our first year of Blueforest Givesback and for all the work that they do. We encourage all to apply for 2016’s Blueforest Givesback.

Keep a lookout for updates of Blueforest Giveback and for the winning video!

 

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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.

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Music Plagiarism and The Art of Sound Alikes

“A good composer does not imitate: he steals.”

-Igor Stravinsky

 

Usually when someone like Stravinsky, a man of immense talent and knowledge in the field of music, gives you advice you want to take it and apply it to your own work. Unfortunately, in this case, stealing ideas from songs/compositions will get you into some serious legal trouble (especially today).

 

Take for example this recent event: Tom Petty has been awarded songwriting royalties for Sam Smith’s hit “Stay With Me.” Apparently people started to sing along to this song with lyrics from Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” and realized they were eerily similar. It seems Tom Petty thought so too. Have a listen to this mash up and you’ll hear similarities in the chorus melody.

 

 

This isn’t nearly the first case of plagiarism in recent memory of popular hits. Remember the Coldplay song “Viva La Vida?” I’m sure Joe Satriani does…

 

What is the one common factor that has allowed these artists to have a case against another artist? The melody! Within music copyright laws you can not sue for someone using the same chord progression. If that were the case no one would be able to write a song destined for radio airplay (which is a whole other soapbox moment I may get into at a later date).

But what are you to do if you want something similar to your favorite song but can not pay to afford the fees to license that specific track? It’s obvious many people like specific genres for a reason. With the way the music business is working currently there is bound to be an attitude of “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” There just may be a formula to produce an instant hit…

 

The reason I bring this up is because in the world of marketing it is understandable that people will want a big hit song for their video. They might even want a number one hit for their on hold messages! With the cost of licensing fees and the consequences of not paying those fees if you use the track what is a smart alternative? A sound alike!

 

Yes it is possible to have a song that sounds similar to the hit song you want but will avoid copyright infringements. Remember, the copying of melodic content is what will get you into hot water with copyright law. This does not apply to using similar instrumentation, gestures, tempo/song speed, or chords. The idea of a sound alike track isn’t new either. It has been used frequently in many mediums for quite a while. One of my personal favorite examples is the classic Animaniacs cartoon “West Side Pigeons.” Besides the title alluding to the great “West Side Story” you can hear how similar the music is to the work of Leonard Bernstein.

 

 

 

The same ideas can be applied to any genre of music: pop, rock, indie, hip hop, etc. I will always try to advocate for creating original content BUT if you are in desperate need of something that sounds like the latest radio hit, yet can’t afford the song itself, a sound alike could be the answer for you.

 

Do you prefer an original composition for your marketing content or do you think a sound alike track would bring in more attention and suit a production better? Let me know in the comments!

 

– Dustin

 

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The Blueforest Judges Meeting!

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The judges (learn more about us here) have finally gotten together and discussed all the applicants for Blueforest Givesback. After meeting together for the first time, it was time to get down to business. It was a challenging process as we looked individually at each applicant. We were very excited to see nonprofits we know and love and also organizations new to us. There was great analysis of every applicant’s strengths and weaknesses.

We looked at all 25 applicants individually, fully analyzing all the information we could. Many factors went into our criteria such as community presence, social engagement, and impact of the organization’s message. Some organizations are doing well on their own while others could use a helping hand. We gathered useful information about each nonprofit and their influence locally.

Despite a long conversation and tough decisions, we were all luckily on the same page about which applicants are the finalists Blueforest Studios will be working with. Check back with us soon for an update!

 

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Creatives Thriving in Raleigh

You don’t have to go to common creative capitals in the US such as NYC or Atlanta for great creative inspiration and work. Right here in Raleigh there are many opportunities for the creative worker. Based on the US Census Bureau 2012-2013, Raleigh is #3 in the country for fastest growing cities. With increasing population and economic growth, Raleigh is a perfect place for the creative economy to flourish.

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Raleigh attracts creativity because our lively city allows creative thinkers to express themselves through various outlets and opportunities. This city is ranked as the Best Place for Business and Careers (Forbes 2014). Small businesses face low regulatory hurdles compared to other cities and projected annual job growth for the Raleigh area, which ranks seventh best among the 200 biggest metro areas, is 3.7% through 2016.

 

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The Creative Vitality Index (CVI) is an annual measure of the health of the creative economy in a specific area. According to the 2013 CVI, Wake County reflects a creative economy 10% above the national average! Raleigh’s CVI score is a 95% average. Wake County gained 685 more creative jobs in one year (2012-2013), bringing the total to 25,424 creative jobs in 2013! 36 creative occupations are represented in the index and the highest number of jobs are postsecondary teachers, photographers, graphic designers, public relations specialists, and musicians/singers.

Creative thinkers and the arts have revitalized Raleigh’s community through new and unique expressions. In North Carolina creative workers, creative enterprises and creative communities bring the entrepreneurial strengths of the private sector to economic development (NCArts). Full of opportunity and creative life, Raleigh’s thriving creative community is a force to be reckoned with and should not be overlooked.

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TriFilm Panel Discussion UPDATE: March 19th!

Here at Blueforest Studios we are very excited to be hosting the TriFilm Society Panel Discussion: Logistics of A Project. It will focus on how to get started with your subjects and ideas all the way to the finishing the end film product!

The panelists will share their insights and expertise in regards to filmmaking.

Tripp Green is a cinematographer and photographer who specializes in RED and DSLR acquisition for commercial, narrative, and industrial projects. His wide spectrum of work ranges from documentaries, TV spots, feature films, and many more.

Sean Riddle is our very own project manager, overseeing our productions and providing guidance. His extensive experience as project and production coordinator makes him the go to guy. He has been production coordinator on many Warner Bros Television productions such as The West Wing.

June Sadler is a filmmaker with many specialized skills with a unique style in photography, short films, documentaries, music production, performance and writing. She’s worked on many documentaries and is currently working on The Future People, bringing together children of diverse backgrounds to empower them to become peacemakers.

Camden Watts, filmmaker and founder of the TriFilm Society, will be moderating the panel. She is a producer, director, and writer. She is currently working on Brewconomy, a documentary about North Carolina craft beer.

UPDATE: This event takes place at Blueforest Studios in Raleigh, NC on March 19th at 4pm to 5:30 pm. There will be time for networking and questions afterwords.

Get your ticket here! We look forward to seeing you there!

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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!

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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: http://blueforeststudios.com/blog/blueforest-gives-back-triangle-nonprofit-video-giveaway/

-Dustin