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Producing Online Promo Video for Schools, Part 2: Building Out the Program

In the conclusion of this two-part series on producing online video for schools, examined through the lens of DigiNovations' ongoing work with Middlesex School, we'll look at strategies and measures you can take to build and advance both your relationship with the school, and develop the project into a diversified and more nuanced promotional and positioning program than a single video can provide.

In the first installment of this series on producing promotional videos for academic institutions, we spoke with Whit Wales, executive producer of DigiNovations, about how to prepare for these types of projects, including getting a sense of the mission and prevailing ethos of the school, how it positions itself vis a vis other similar institutions, and how you initiate a relationship with key contacts at the school. In that article and video, we focused on the first film that DigiNovations produced for New England boarding school Middlesex School, an admissions-driven piece with the basic message “Make people want to come.”

In the conclusion of this two-part series, we’ll look at strategies and measures you can take to build and advance both your relationship with the school, and develop the project into a diversified and more nuanced promotional and positioning program than a single video can provide. These techniques include framing discussions about the first video in terms of building relationships and trust--that is, as the beginning of a dialogue that will extend beyond the first project you do together.

They also include sharpening the message in more targeted, narrowly focused videos--emphasizing particular programs within the school, for example--understanding the politics that arise as you involve yourself with more personalities and different departments, mastering the interview process, and carving out an ongoing role for yourself that goes beyond specific end-products to make not just your services, but online video itself a cornerstone of the school’s outreach efforts.

Most importantly, it’s about not treating the program, the project, or the film itself as a sale, and that applies as much to the production company and the on-screen talent you work with at the school.

DigiNovations and Middlesex: The State of the Union

The first video DigiNovations produced for Middlesex was a very structured project with a clear, if rather general purpose of creating a single video that would give new and prospective students a sense of what the school was all about, and what might make it the right school for them. Wales says one of the hallmarks of that project was spending what might even seem like an inordinate amount of time on pre-production, laying the foundations for the relationship he hoped to develop.

Shortly after the project was finished, he recalls, director of admissions Doug Price said, “All right, we’d like to make two more films for next year,” and they were off and running with pieces on the arts and athletics programs at the school. More budget was allocated, more planning time invested, other contacts became involved (another good development, so that all future projects needn’t depend on the headmaster’s ongoing direct involvement with all the details), and they were off and running with those next two projects.

Middlesex Athletics from DigiNovations on Vimeo.

The Arts at Middlesex from DigiNovations on Vimeo.

Since then, the relationship has continued to pick up steam, yielding more development and capital campaign-driven projects looking at programs within the school, and another short film that Wales describes as focusing on “senior leadership.”

“Consequently, there is as well,” Wales says, “a more well-defined budget specifically for video, where two-and-a-half years ago, there was none.”

Related Articles
DigiNovations Executive Producer Whit Wales discusses how to prepare for and produce videos for academic clients that capture the mission and message of the school, and to build a single-video project into a comprehensive video program that effectively promotes and positions the school.