Here’s an old joke parents tell about boarding school, “What is boarding school? It’s where they take the two things you care about most in the world (all your money and your children) and you are happy about it!”
The kernel of truth here is that the biggest decisions we make in our lives aren’t always made for purely rational reasons. Yet school web sites are often primarily focused on rational arguments and lists of services. Parents are left to compare the new turf field at School A with the renovated dorm in School B. Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate? New ice rink or 1:1 technology program?
The magic of independent school is reduced to a list of perks.
To celebrate the theatre program at New Hampton School we wanted to try a different approach. Rather than talk about how large the facility is, how many plays are produced a year, or where our kids go on to study we decided to produce a piece that put the viewer right into the action and got adults and kids talking about what it felt like to be a part of the program. Originally we had scheduled three different students to be on camera but when Griffin was suddenly called away by the theatre director we knew we had captured a magical moment that we wanted to share on screen.
Here are the six tips we followed to produce this video:
- Use Video – No other medium lets you show what it’s like at your school without having to explain it quite like video. The choices you make about music, pacing and tone tell as much as the people talking on the screen.
- Capitalize On Your People – The people at your school are the most compelling part of your program and they are much easier to relate to than a list of perks. Your audience will want to be in class or on the playing field when you celebrate your most charismatic teacher, the crustiest old coach, or the quirkiest student.
- Get Teachers to Talk About Students – One of the most difficult things in the world is to get a teacher to talk articulately about a program on camera. But ask them to talk about their favorite students and something magical happens. The same goes for students: getting them to talk about their favorite teachers is a remarkable and touching exercise.
- Get Up Close – Put your camera as far into the classroom, playing field, or practice studio as you can. Help the audience feel like they are right in the middle of the action. Wait until the day before play opens to do your interviews and your content will have a more urgent and authentic feel. Does something unexpected happen? Keep the camera rolling – it might be a magical moment in the making.
- Talking Heads Are Boring – Try showing the speaker talking for only a few seconds around the forty second mark in your video. Lay audio of the speaker on top of B-Roll of them doing the thing they are talking about. This is much more interesting than looking at someone talking!
- Forget About Perks – Try this experiment: produce content about a program in which the name of that program never appears. Rather than make a rational argument about how awesome the program is show the audience what it’s like to be a part of it.
What do you think? How do you use emotion to celebrate your programs? Let us know in the comments!