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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

What You See Isn't Always What You Get

Dan Bailes: Someone once said “your view of the world is shaped by what you see when you wake up in the morning.”

Those words came back to me after yesterday’s screening of a rough edit with a client. This was one of those situations where we were working on a video project that had two mandates—1) introduce people to the organization’s programs and services 2) use the video as a fund raiser.

The client wanted both mandates to focus on the value the organization brings to patients and their families.

So… here’s the topic I’m really getting at: how do you go about making a video that has two different goals? What do you show and what do you see? In preliminary discussions with the client we decided to focus more on the first goal –introduction of services– with the assumption that if you do something that works well for patients and their families it will also work for fundraising. So I began creating a warm and welcoming piece for patients and their families about how to use the organization’s services for the first time. Our hope was the video would put people at ease and assist them to learn about how the organization had helped other patients (like themselves) in need.

As I worked with the editing, I tried to put myself in the place of someone in the audience. One thing I’ve learned from working on hundreds of political campaign and issue ads is to first understand the mindset of your audience and then hone your message to fall within that point of view.

I found we had a host of comments from people who had been helped by the organization—so there were a lot of moments to choose from. There was so much worthy material our first edit draft was way too long – given the large amount of quality comments it felt like the perfect moment to ask our client to help us decide what should stay and what should go. After watching the edit draft they made a decision. We should change direction and orient the program more to potential funders—if it worked well for them, it will also work well for the patient/family members. With that simple change in perspective, we now saw everything in a new light—our lengthy first edit became much easier to tackle; the new direction in thinking made it obvious what should stay and what should go.

Of course we would need to re-edit the piece—but that’s okay—because we knew where we were going; the content now had clarity. Knowing where a piece is “going” brings new energy into the edit room.

And once you clearly understand who your target audience is and what you want to tell them, everything else falls into place.

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