Archive for the ‘Philanthropy’ Category

It’s no surprise that many big name brands can afford to undertake large-scale video production exclusively for the web. Some call them “webisodes.” Others call them web documentaries. In either case, creating and publishing a web video series showcases a brand’s professed values, mission and purpose. A web video series also usually promotes specific products or services.

Take, for example, Dawn Dish Soap’s web video series “The Big Picture.” This series shows how Dawn is helping wildlife and explains how their dish soap helps clean animals affected by oil.

Though big brands such as Dawn, Target and Ikea rule the web video series world, smaller, local brands can produce a professional web video series on a much smaller budget to boost their brand online. Generally, such web video series can be produced on budgets between $10K-$20K for 5-10 videos.

I’ve been helping to produce a web video series for Minnesota Philanthropy Partners since 2010 called “Nonprofits to KnowTM.” I work with a great team of program officers and marketing folks who identify the nonprofits to feature in the series. I then brief the featured nonprofits on the production process and requirements, and film and produce the videos. Since 2010, I’ve helped MN Partners produce more than 30 Nonprofits to KnowTM videos.

I’ve also produced a web video series for a local food coop, Valley Natural Foods, spotlighting their featured vendors: local farmers and vendors whose products appear in the store. The web video series worked in tandem with the monthly print newsletter the coop published.

A web video series can boost your brand in ways no single promotional video ever could.

Here are five big ways:

1 – Stand out as a Thought Leader

A web video series can help you demonstrate insider knowledge of a process, community or an issue and establish your brand as a “thought leader.” In digital marketing terms, a thought leader is an individual or organization that is seen as an authority in a given subject area by their followers or fans. For many businesses and nonprofits, thought leadership can be equated to influence and awareness. Does your organization aspire to be sought out for its knowledge of the staffing industry or its work on health care? A web video series may help it stand out as a go-to resource for questions on a given topic.

PRO TIP: If you create a web video series, be sure to create a homepage where all the videos in the series can live as a sort of web video library, especially if each episode is topical.

2 – Build brand awareness and affinity

Depending on its popularity and how successfully you present your brand, a web video series can win hearts. Successful videos get shared on social media and viewers return for subsequent episodes. And, if viewers like the web videos, they develop an affinity for your organization and another level of awareness of your work, values and impact. This worked especially well for Old Spice. Their web video series built brand awareness and affinity with a new generation of customers who may have previously thought of Old Spice as the distinct smelling cologne dad or grandpa used to wear. Today, Old Spice is one of the most popular bodywash products in the marketplace.

PRO TIP: Use humor and creativity carefully. If possible, employ a creative agency to come up with the funny stuff.

3 – Validate your product or service

A web video series can provide a powerful form of validation by showing—not just telling—how your products or services work. Dawn Dish Soap is prominently featured in episode 1 of their web series helping clean oil from the feathers of a duckling. The implication? It’s safe enough for a baby animal and works on thick industrial pollutants, so it will work in your kitchen.

PRO TIP: Featuring your product in the video series should not be forced. If viewers feel they’re just watching a TV commercial, they may be turned off … or just turn off your video.

4 – Tell more brand stories, but “bite-sized”

A web video series provides your brand the opportunity to tell multiple, bite-sized stories. Today’s web audience attention span is pretty short. In some cases, only 5 seconds long! As brand evangelists, we often want to talk our audience’s ear off about how great our products and services are and how many others have benefitted from them. But, those stories need to be short, to the point and they must resonate on an emotional level. A web video series allows you to tell many stories that all point to a greater truth: your organization can provide solutions that work.

5 – It’s content marketing gold

We all know that social media requires constant feeding. Your brand presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the rest will fade after just a few days or weeks of inactivity. A web video series presents your social media managers with a treasure trove of quality content to share. And, if tied appropriately into your larger organizational goals and marketing plan, a web series can be a critical component to your content marketing strategy.

PRO TIP: Start by reviewing your organization’s strategic goals, refer to your brand guidelines and then develop a content marketing plan that includes all forms of content that you have at your disposal (print, web, social, etc.). Then, develop the web video series within that context. The web video series should ultimately help you in meeting your organization’s strategic goals.



I apologize for the long break between posts. I’m sure you all experienced busy holidays too. Well, to top off the holidays, I also transitioned into a new job!

The bad news is I’ve left professional journalism, but the great news is I’m still doing lots of multimedia work and am excited about this new position in the nonprofit sector. My new job title is “interactive media strategist” and I’m working for two nonprofit community foundations: Minnesota Community Foundation and The Saint Paul Foundation. The thing about community foundations is they do lots of exciting work that’s hard to sum up in one paragraph. Essentially, community foundations are:

…independent registered philanthropic institutions serving geographically defined territory, typically a city or administrative area (county, region and the like). The six main characteristics of the CFs are:

• Act as grant-making foundations – e.g. give grants to support development projects
• Their mission broadly defined (e.g. to improve quality of life in a community)

• Serve geographically defined communities – a city, state, region, district or province

• Are supported by a broad range of private as well as public donors and seek philanthropic contributions primarily from inside the community

• Are governed by multi-sectoral local boards reflecting the community

• Build capital endowment, which is an important element of sustainability

(Source: Wikipedia)

I’ll be guiding the two Foundations social media efforts, managing its newsletter and other print publication projects, and producing videos for them.

I’ll also be working for an offshoot of the Minnesota Community Foundation called has a very cool story. (Read the Minneapolis Star Tribune story here). Essentially, the Minnesota Community Foundation decided to forge new territory in the nonprofit world and create this online philanthropic web site where nonprofits from around Minnesota could set up a home page, take donations and connect with donors. Individual donors can now visit one web site to do all their local giving. In a special promotion shortly after the site launched, raised over $14 million for local nonprofits on “Give to the Max Day” Nov. 17. You can read about it here.

So, basically, I’m working for some really cool folks with a great mission. Here are some of the main bullet points of my job description:

  • Produce testimonials about extraordinary nonprofit organizations to feature on the Foundations’ website.
  • Promote the featured nonprofits through social media and other strategies.
  • Identify high-performing nonprofit and public sector leaders who are having transformative impact in their communities and create profiles to feature on the Foundations’ website.
  • Serve as the primary social media voice and manage the Foundations’ presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and other social media outlets.
  • Track key on-line communications in Foundation interest areas and ensure we are participating appropriately.
  • Manage content and production for the Foundations’ MNSights and Grant-a-Wish publications.
  • Manage contracting for and relationships with outside communications suppliers and vendors.
  • Work with the Executive Director of to provide strategic and operational leadership for GiveMN to launch and grow into the best place-based giving platform in the country.
  • Build and manage all content partnerships for GiveMN portal.
  • Manage production of issue spotlights, working with partners to develop and disseminate great analysis of critical issues facing Minnesota.
  • Work with corporate and other sponsors to plan and execute giving promotions such as matching days, challenge grants to individual organizations, and giveaways.
  • Lead media strategies and outreach for GiveMN.
  • Develop a GiveMN YouTube channel with donor-generated video content integrated into the GiveMN site.

The cool part is I really feel I’m in one of those “jobs of the future”. I mean, this has got to be one of the newest job descriptions out there. In a way, it’s kind of like a metamorphasis from a traditional communication professional job description. No longer is marketing, public relations or journalism about writing for a given medium. Today, any given communication team, be they part of a newsroom or a PR firm, needs to have a social media and video strategy. Online video and social networks have grown in popularity and participation to the point that organizations must employ folks with a grasp of the new online interaction reality. (How I stumbled into this expertise area, I’m not quite sure, but I feel like one of the lucky ones…)

Over the holiday break I read a post by Adam Westbrook (10 Trends in journalism in 2010), a British multimedia journalist and blogger [I love how the Brits say “mobile’], that hit home. His #2 prediction for trends in journalism for 2010 was that journalists will move to the NGO market, or Non-governmental Organization market. (Read nonprofits). Cool, I’m living that prediction!

But seriously, the nonprofit sector seems a great refuge for multimedia journalists who may want to “wait out” all the turbulent changes in the journalism industry. Since journalism is replete with lay-offs, pay cuts and freezes, and a reputation for poor salaries, many high-mined, idealists in the field may find themselves a great fit for nonprofits who wish to share their stories. I certainly hope to make my contributions at the Minnesota Community Foundation, The Saint Paul Foundation and