Dull to Dynamic Videos – 3 Tips

Think back… who were your favourite teachers? What made a speech keep you captivated? What Superbowl commercial do you STILL remember? (does it involve “Wazzzuuuuppppp?”)

When doing a safety video, apply those same attributes that made the above connections so memorable for you. Message retention is important in changing the behaviours of your audience, which means your video needs to be dynamite!

TIP 1 – Be Authentic

The great speeches you have witnessed, the most memorable commercials, your fave teachers or professors. They were the material experts… and so are you. (There is no reason to read lines to a camera; your audience can have a negative reaction and tune you out faster than Ferri Bueller’s classmates).

Authenticity is what is driving YouTube nowadays. Just look at these two 20-something guys from Indiana, who went viral after their reaction video to Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight”. Like… over 8 million views viral. Not only that, they pushed the 1981 tune back onto the Billboard charts.

If you want to immerse 3-4 glorious hours of your life, check out their YouTube channel. Celebrities from Dolly Parton to Alicia Keys to Barack Obama have joined in on the fun. If all you’ve listened to is rap and you hear Jolene for the first time, people want to watch it.

Did you know most people think smoke in a house fire is a thin mist that they can see & breathe in for a long time? Guess where they learned that… What is stopping your Fire Department from watching some fire/firefighting scenes from Hollywood and “reacting” to it? Could be both entertaining and educational.

Be authentic… genuine… know your stuff & share it in a casual, conversational way. You don’t read lines when people approach your booth to ask questions, talk to a classroom of kids or when residents call you for advice… so why is talking to a camera any different?

TIP 2 – Be Inventive or Reinventive

The best products, songs, movies and yes, PSAs, become popular for being *different*. Often it’s the result of taking a traditional format and turning it upside down. Like St. John Ambulance did with this first aid PSA. Instead of the traditional approach of telling people how important it is to have first aid, they showed their audience what can happen when they don’t possess that skill.

(Case in point… how much did you cringe at the head hitting the pool? You’re not alone. We ALL did.)

Some become popular because they put a fresh spin on the old… a reinvention of sorts. Deadpool attacked the comic book movie universe with a twisted, humourous approach and audiences around the world responded, sending the Deadpool franchise to over $1.5 billion US. Watch the Deadpool trailer – how many elements do you notice of what made it look & sound different?

Of course, not everyone has a $100 millon video budget… but don’t let that stop you from reinventing tradition. Ikea did this with their funny, tongue-in-cheek “Bookbook” campaign. This catalogue ad got 18 million views.

Still not sure how you can do this for safety? Barrie Fire & Emergency Services decided to tackle non-compliance by poking a little fun at the ridiculous reasons people give, with their “Excuses are Childish” campaign. Here is one:

TIP 3: Capture. Engage. Impact. (Quickly)

Thanks to the rise of social media analytics, we have access to a lot of research about our audiences. That research tells us that we have 5 seconds to get people’s attention. So the first 5 seconds of your video needs to be captivating. The sections after that need to engage the audience and leave an impact.

C-E-I Layout:

  1. The Hook – an opening statement, scene, visual or sound that grabs your audience’s attention. (Note: avoid starting with name, title and agency… statistically, your audience will scroll past before you finish introducing yourself)
  2. The Pull – a story or analogy that your audience will relate to, an emotionally compelling example, or a series of audio/visuals that create a happy/sad/humourous/scary reaction.
  3. The Push – this is where you drive the point home in way that is understood, felt, and leaves a lasting impact. This could be a “imagine that fire was your home” or “if your grandmother showed signs of stroke, would you know what to do?” and follow it up with that teachable moment – the behaviour you want them to adopt or change, such as “Download our home escape plan worksheet from the link below” or “Here are the signs of stroke..”
  4. The Info – where they can get more info, who you are, etc. (Now you may list your name, position, organization’s name/logo and all that stuff)

Think of your entire public education program for a given topic as the “movie” and your video is the trailer. Which means your video needs to leave the audience *wanting* more information.

Did you know?

  • Jurassic Park’s trailer completely lacked the action-packed scenes of the movie, but it was presented with intrigue and mystery, leading audiences to make the movie the most successful of all time on release day.
  • The 1989 Batman movie had Bat-fans outraged at the casting, the director, everything. 50,000 complaint letters arrived at Warner Bros. But thanks to the trailer, it became a blockbuster and immortalized Jack Nicholson’s Joker.

The narrator in this Jaws trailer from 1975 could easily be talking about fire/smoke instead of a shark:

Speed-Up Tips – how to keep your vids short & sweet for maximum effect:

  • Display text for name/position/agency info instead of taking the time to say it
  • Use voiceovers for giving info during visual elements (instead of showing a person talking and flipping to another scene after)
  • Subtitles – to ensure your info is understood and more accessible, use captioning/subtitles. You can also do subtitles in other languages if that reflects your community’s demographics.
  • Avoid industry/technical jargon – keep words & sentences short and casual, use visual examples whenever possible
  • Easy on the music – music can enhance a video but make sure it doesn’t overpower the message.
  • Make the first 10 seconds COUNT. Don’t waste it with boring introductions… get to the hook right away. Save the intro info for the end.
  • Stick to one or two lessons – to keep it short & for maximum retention, teach the audience 1-2 things.

One of the best 30-second PSAs of all time:

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