We believe there are 12 key ways you can leverage the power of film by asking the right questions. At Tribe, we don’t begin with the video; we begin with the problem and what communication strategies will solve that problem. We’re not just expert filmmakers—we’re communications specialists.
We start from a strategic point of view, understanding that your institution has a voice and a plan. Together, we need to choose the right tone that will both resonate with your target audience and address a very specific problem.
We recommend reading 4 Secrets to Making Great Films for Higher Education, our primer on making great films. In it we discuss the importance of creating an emotional connection with your audience and setting the stage for a conversation about big ideas. At Tribe, we’re here to help you ask the right questions before making a video, so you can leverage all that’s unique about your institution’s DNA to maximize the power of the medium.
WAYS TO USE VIDEOS TO INTRODUCE YOUR SCHOOL TO PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS (AND THEIR PARENTS)
#1: INTRODUCE A NEW PRESIDENT
When a new president comes to a college or university, a video is the fastest and most effective way to make an introduction—and a connection—to staff, students, and alumni both near and far. These constituents need to understand any new vision as quickly as possible. And they want to put a face to the vision – to personalize the president. A video makes that happen.
We created this film to introduce Franklin & Marshall’s president Dan Porterfield. The audience hears his philosophy, sees his passion, and discovers a part of his unique approach. They don’t just read bullet points; they see Porterfield engage with students and faculty and get an inside look into his strategic vision.
#2 ADMISSIONS TRILOGY
Admissions is perhaps the area most ripe for video content, and we focus our efforts in three areas: general admissions, targeted admissions, and long-form content.
General admissions videos may be emailed and posted online or on social media platforms. Targeted content is specific. Some videos play in the admissions office, some speak to students in a specific major, and others address specific academic or athletic areas. Longer videos can play in the admissions office while students wait for an interview or the campus tour.
With admissions, we want our clients to reach prospects and their parents at multiple waypoints to maximize the college’s visibility.
We produced many videos for Franklin & Marshall. Our general admissions video starts with a close-up of a new student opening his acceptance letter and transitions to upbeat and sometimes humorous student interviews that give prospects an authentic and personal look at the F&M experience.
#3 EXPRESS THE SOUL OF YOUR INSTITUTION
Prior to visiting your campus, prospective students want a sense of what it's like there. University of Vermont wanted to show prospects campus life and the vibrant city of Burlington and we did so in a unique way.
Tribe decided a music video would best capture campus and community activity and authenticity; so, we worked with a local musician using his song ‘The Light Inside’ to personify the spirit of UVM and connect the viewer emotionally with the University. This is one of four videos for UVM – the others: two about Professors and Alumni Outcomes and the fourth that plays in their Admission Office. The series is a balance of heart and mind. This particular video went viral, earning 40,000 hits on YouTube and counting.
WAYS TO USE VIDEOS TO ACHIEVE YOUR DEVELOPMENT GOALS
#4 EVENT FILMS FOR FUNDRAISING
When you’re trying to inspire financial contributions, a well-made video can communicate your goals, broadcast a call-to-action, and make a compelling case for your need. Plus, you can bring the present-day campus and students to the alumni.
Our video for Washington and Lee University, "Echoes of Past, Voices of Future," illustrates the unique history and character of the rural Virginia campus and the college’s proud history in the context of our nation. We used emotional triggers like a violinist playing the familiar “Shenandoah” tune while a lone figure walks the university’s iconic Colonnade, and students share inspiring quotes from distinguished alumni to help the University connect with potential donors and energize them to support a half-billion dollar capital campaign.
#5 CALL TO ACTION VIDEOS FOR SPECIFIC INITIATIVES
Big initiatives need big support. If your institution is developing a new building, stadium, program, or other initiative, a video can help donors, students, staff, and the community joins together in the effort.
Video: Lewis & Clark Campaign
Lewis & Clark College shares the pioneering spirit of its namesakes. That’s why in creating this video to introduce fundraising efforts for its integrated science center, we not only showcase the unique, hands-on relationship between students and faculty, we also travel into the field to highlight advancements in research. Students reach a scientific breakthrough while studying geckos, and their peers venture into the forest to collect a species of spider last studied in the 1950s.
#6 HONOR THE DONOR
Video is a terrific way to honor a person who has made a substantial gift or endowment. Not only is it an institutional acknowledgement of the generosity, but such videos help an audience understand the philosophy behind why the donor gave the money and how it will propel the institution’s plans for its future.
Video: Illinois Wesleyan University
After receiving an endowment from Charles and Joyce Ames, Illinois Wesleyan University partnered with Tribe to create one such video. The piece takes viewers into the Ames’ connection with the University, shows how their lives were touched, lets them share what motivated their gift, and explains how the endowment advances Illinois Wesleyan’s mission.
WAYS TO USE VIDEOS TO CELEBRATE YOUR HISTORY AND MILESTONES
#7 HISTORIC/ANNIVERSARY FILMS
Videos that delve into a college’s history showcase the true impact each college has had on its students, the community, our nation, and the world. These films highlight important connections and encourage people to give back or join in the ongoing efforts to advance the institution.
In 2012, we helped Hamilton College commemorate its bicentennial with a video created to launch a festive week for thousands of alumni, families, students, and community members. In the video, students read letters from graduates who tell of their Hamilton days and relate the important milestones that have built Hamilton’s legacy. Beautiful flyover and time-lapse images illustrate this historic and inspirational college in action.
#8 CELEBRATIONS OF ENDOWED PROFESSORSHIPS
Creating an endowed chair or professorship is a noteworthy achievement that can aid in recruitment and retention of faculty as well as attracting prospective students. A mini documentary of that certain professor’s work helps introduce what’s happening on campus to the community and the world beyond.
The video we created for Lafayette College is short—just 60 seconds in length—but it’s a powerful introduction to Curlee Raven Holton, the Director of the Experimental Printmaking Institute, and a demonstration of his impact through a discussion with a former student.
#9 VIDEOS TO HONOR FAMOUS ALUMNI
Any time you memorialize notable alumni, you’re honoring their contribution to your institution and showing current and prospective students how much you value the outcomes of your graduates, their contributions to the world and to the college itself.
“I owe Kenyon a great deal.”
Hearing those words from Paul Newman is a powerful message for the Kenyon College community. In the video Tribe and Kenyon made to honor Newman, he credits the institution with providing the foundation for his career and the encouragement that kept him going. And he tells a story about starting the student laundry and handing out free beer to encourage patronage – an act of entrepreneurship that he claims helped him graduate Magna Cum Lager. This warm tribute video not only shows the impact Kenyon had on a famous graduate, it helps prospective students understand what’s possible to achieve at this liberal arts college.
WAYS TO USE VIDEOS TO BUILD YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE
#10 SMALLER WEB PIECES
The possibilities are endless. Tribe clients have harnessed the power of video to tell stories about their athletic achievements, scientific innovations, historic milestones, and countless activities. The great thing about these “snackable” stories is that they can be used in multiple places from DVDs, to websites, to social media.
With these videos—like Washington University’s two-minute featurette on the Mars rover or Scripps’ sixty-second campaign module on its female graduates—colleges and universities are finding new ways to help people understand their campuses, departments, and students, all with a personal touch.
#11 ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSIONS
If you want to reach and recruit students in a specific area, consider a roundtable discussion video. This unique format allows prospective students to hear from several individuals on one topic of importance to them.
Video: Kenyon College Roundtable
Take a look at the video we put together for Kenyon College. This science roundtable compellingly communicates important information and details about the college’s science offerings and the students, facilities, and professors. We include updated information about students’ collegiate careers to show exactly how a Kenyon education translates to real-world success.
#12 THANK YOU/ CAMPAIGN WRAP UP FILMS
In order to more deeply connect with their "tribes," our clients often recognize their finest achievements and milestone events through ceremonies that help them say "thank you" or "let's celebrate."
This video for Reed College thanks the 12,000 donors who participated in the important centennial campaign by transporting them back to campus and into the lives of the students whose Reed experience has been transformed because of the campaign. And the way the video is structured also allows it to serve as an important recruiting tool.
We hope these 12 tips have sparked some ideas and that you’re inspired to use more video to meet your communication challenges.
We want to help you inspire and mobilize your audience to partner with you in your strategic vision. You can’t do that without first understanding the problem you want to solve. Once you do, consider how video can address that problem unlike any other tool.
Remember—the most memorable videos capture the heart and soul of a person, a company, or an institution.
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