A First Time For Everything

The following post was written by Bennett Northcutt. He is one of our 2015 summer interns learning about business and finance in video production and marketing. Welcome aboard Bennett!

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Earlier this week, I began my internship here at Blueforest Studios. Not knowing what to expect, I walked into the office Monday morning to find an intrinsic group of people dedicated to what they do, and boy, do they do it well. Blueforest offers an array of avenues for companies to increase local awareness. One way Blueforest does this is by offering an annual competition for one lucky nonprofit in the Triangle area to receive a free video called Blueforest Givesback. Nonprofits submit applications as to why they deserve the video and Blueforest selects one company which they feel has the most compelling story. How awesome is that? Then Blueforest creates a free video worth $5,000 to $10,000 for the nonprofit. This year CASA was the lucky winner of the Blueforest Givesback competition. The other interns and I were tasked with brainstorming a radio spot to advertise the screening of the winning video Blueforest created for CASA. CASA is different from any other organization I’ve worked with in the past. CASA’s mission is to provide affordable housing to those who are homeless and disabled in the Triangle. With over 300 apartments in the Triangle and constant need, CASA cannot continue to thrive and house those in need without your help. Visit http://www.casanc.org/ and help make a change today.
The radio spot we created can be heard here:

 

MOTIVATION for you and your customers!

motivation 

[moh-tuhvey-shuh n]
noun

1.  the act or an instance of motivating, or providing with a reason to act in a certain way

2. the state or condition of being motivated or having a strong reason to act or accomplish something

3. something that motivates; inducement; incentive

(dictionary.com)

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Think about how important motivation is. It is the main mechanism in everyone’s brain that says, “Hey! Do that! Don’t do that!” It guides our basic human needs and all our actions.

Along with personal motivation, it can also be applied to marketing and the business world. What motivates customers to act? What motivates you in your business? Motivation is often overlooked as it’s a subconscious decision that is rarely discussed.

This TIME article discusses 3 important steps to motivate yourself and I thought how these important tools can be applied to marketing and business. Let’s go through main drives and emotions that can help you individually and in your work:

1. Positivity! 

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You: Emotions are often overlooked in productive systems. People procrastinate most when they are in a bad mood. To stay optimistic, you can monitor your progress and celebrate success.

Your business: Consumers need to feel positively about your business. It’s important to convey in your message and marketing how your work is important to the consumer. Even if your work isn’t all about happiness, you can still portray how your business will positively impact customers, which will motivate them to look into your business.

 

2. Get Rewarded! 

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You: Studies show that reward motivates almost everything you do. You eat because you need food. Eating is the “reward” when you’re hungry. Your stomach hurting when you don’t eat is the punishment. So in order to motivate yourself, reward yourself for being productive and completing important tasks.

Your business: When presenting your business to the world, you need to make clear how your business will ultimately “reward” the customer. How will your service make their lives better or satisfy a need or want? The reward drive is a basic instinct in humans that motivates people to act.

 

3. Get Peer Pressure! 

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You: By surrounding yourself with individuals with similar goals you’re striving for, you will be more motivated to be productive and do your best. When your peers are hardworking, you will be hardworking. The right amount of positive peer pressure can push you to be your best.

Your business: “Peer pressure” can be applied to the consumer being exposed to what’s popular. Consumers that receive more stimulation will keep those businesses in mind. That’s why big name companies such as McDonalds still advertise constantly even though they are an instantly recognizable brand name. They advertise to dominate the playing field.  When consumers are constantly seeing a brand’s name on social media and on TV, they will remember that brand and will think of them when they need that service/product.

Remember, motivation is key. Use these three tips to increase motivation for yourself and your business!

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!

 

The Winner of the 1st Annual Blueforest Gives Back!

It was a very tough decision. Every applicant is an important nonprofit helping to better our community. We started Blueforest Gives Back because we love getting involved in the community in many different ways. Blueforest Gives Back 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 Gives Back 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 Gives Back and for all the work that they do. We encourage all to apply for 2016’s Blueforest Gives Back.

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

 

Blueforest Gives Back Finalist: The Power of the Dream

Over the course of the last month, as we reviewed applications for the BlueForest Gives Back contest, our staff has had an opportunity to learn more about over 20 Triangle area organizations working to make a positive impact in our community. So many worthwhile causes and so many people working to help others! We’ve have the opportunity to talk to staff and volunteers of the finalists, learning about their history and mission. We’ve been really inspired by the hard work and dedication of these folks and the work they do. Thank you to the 25 organizations who participated in the process.

We’d like to share with you a little about the organizations who made it to the final round in this year’s contest. Introducing…. The Power of the Dream!

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The Power of the Dream’s mission is to create jobs and advocate for adults with autism and/or intellectual developmental disabilities (IDD). They were founded in 2008 with the intent to help people with disabilities learn and develop their own businesses. Given that 85% of adults (18+) with autism and other intellectual developmental disabilities (IDD) do not have a paid job in their community, they recognized there is a huge need for employment opportunities in the Triangle area for this population.

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In 2012 The Power of the Dream decided that it was time to put into practice all the lessons learned over the years and actually create jobs, training and volunteer opportunities right here in our community.  The Power of the Dream raised funds and they began a non-profit thrift store business called HANDmeUPs Thrift, which opened in Raleigh on August 29, 2013. The store is their first vehicle for creating jobs in the community for individuals with autism and IDD and now have hired 21 part-time employees.

We love how The Power of the Dream advocates for those with autism and IDD by trying to provide real solutions to help individuals grow. They’re a strong team of volunteers who help show how those with disabilities deserve a fulfilling life and are important to our community.

Check them out and learn more: http://www.thepowerofthedream.org/

Blueforest Gives Back Finalist: Pinecone

Over the course of the last month, as we reviewed applications for the BlueForest Gives Back contest, our staff has had an opportunity to learn more about over 20 Triangle area organizations working to make a positive impact in our community. So many worthwhile causes and so many people working to help others! We’ve have the opportunity to talk to staff and volunteers of the finalists, learning about their history and mission. We’ve been really inspired by the hard work and dedication of these folks and the work they do. Thank you to the 25 organizations who participated in the process.

Over the course of the week we’d like to share with you a little about the organizations who made it to the final round in this year’s contest. Introducing…Pinecone!

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PineCone, the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, Inc., is dedicated to preserving, presenting, and promoting all forms of traditional music, dance and other folk performing arts. PineCone offers a wide variety of programs for anyone who loves music, particularly roots music (Americana, folk, bluegrass, etc).

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PineCone does this by presenting more than 150 events each year, including more than 30 concerts in Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest, and Durham. They also have participatory jam sessions for bluegrass, Irish, and Shape Note music. Many tune in to their weekly radio show on 94.7 WQDR. PineCone is also the producer of the Wide Open Bluegrass festival, coordinated in partnership with IBMA, the City of Raleigh, and a local organizing committee.

We love that PineCone preserves and promotes traditional music in our community. They know that root music is important and transcendent, as shown in their Bluegrass Camps for Youth. Roots music expresses where people come from and where they live. Supporting PineCone allows for tradition and roots music to continue to thrive.

Check them out and learn more at https://pinecone.org/

Blueforest Gives Back Finalist: Triangle Literacy Council

Over the course of the last month, as we reviewed applications for the BlueForest Gives Back contest, our staff has had an opportunity to learn more about over 20 Triangle area organizations working to make a positive impact in our community. So many worthwhile causes and so many people working to help others! We’ve have the opportunity to talk to staff and volunteers of the finalists, learning about their history and mission. We’ve been really inspired by the hard work and dedication of these folks and the work they do. Thank you to the 25 organizations who participated in the process.

Over the course of the week we’d like to share with you a little about the organizations who made it to the final round in this year’s contest. We’ll start this week with The Triangle Literacy Council! 

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The Triangle Literacy Council (formally, Wake County Literacy Council) is celebrating its 45th year of helping adults learn to read. Through various programs such as the adult one-on-one tutoring to ESL and GED prep, adults have the opportunity to advance their reading, speaking, and comprehension skills in English. Their goal is to help those who struggle to perform important daily tasks because they do not have these skills. They have many programs including Project LIFT, a family literacy program for family caregivers with children under the age of 5 whose first language isn’t English to foster English language and life skills learning.

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The Triangle Literacy Council also has programs for at-risk youth, incarcerated adults, and families all designed to promote comprehension of literacy and help end the cycle of crime and poverty that strikes uneducated individuals. Their Juvenile Literacy Center focuses on assisting at-risk youth to help them come to know success with improvements with their reading, writing, and math skills.

What we love about the Triangle Literacy Council is that they understand literacy is fundamental to survive in today’s society and they strive to give everyone the access they need to learn how. With their work they help improve many aspects of our community. They focus on reforming and teaching individuals to improve lives with lasting impact through their many different programs.

Check them out and learn more at http://www.triangleliteracy.org/ 

 

Blueforest Gives Back finalist: The Justice Theater Project

Over the course of the last month, as we reviewed applications for the Blueforest Gives Back contest, our staff has had an opportunity to learn more about over 20 Triangle area organizations working to make a positive impact in our community. So many worthwhile causes and so many people working to help others! We’ve have the opportunity to talk to staff and volunteers of the finalists, learning about their history and mission. We’ve been really inspired by the hard work and dedication of these folks and the work they do. Thank you to the 25 organizations who participated in the process.

Over the course of the next week we’d like to share with you a little about the organizations who made it to the final round in this year’s contest. We’ll start this week with The Justice Theater Project!

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The Justice Theater Project (JTP) is a professional theater company with an ambitious mission – to build public awareness of the needs of the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed through the intimate and impactful medium of the performing arts. Since 2004, JTP has learned how to connect the public to important issues and vital resources through main stage productions, outreach and collaborations with many local and statewide organizations.

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Along with their regular productions such as Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity, they hold summer camps for youth in Southeast Raleigh, Downtown Durham and in North Raleigh. What is most important to the Justice Theater Project is to bring people in to join these discussions to create community awareness.

What we love about Justice Theater Project is that they start an important conversation about current issues in our society and our community. They never turn anyone down who can’t afford a ticket. They have many different focuses, presenting a diverse number of social issues through the performing arts to allow audiences to understand realities and discuss social change.

Check them out and learn more at http://www.thejusticetheaterproject.org/

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 Gives Back. 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 here for an update!

 

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.