Along with our work at Walk West (formerly Greenroom Communications), helping clients tell their story as humanly as possible, my family also makes videos for the YouTube (that’s what my parents call it: The YouTube). Sometimes these videos get shared around a bit, which is nice – our latest one, Copter Mommies, got over 10 million impressions and close to 4 million views on Facebook. We’ve also done family music videos on pretty much every holiday, about trendy clothes, snow days, Southerners, the Oscars, picky eaters, male childbirth, messy husbands, allergies, back to school, texting while driving, annoying road trips, and coming soon: CrossFit.
As a result, (and this is a GREAT THING), people are starting to identify me as “That Guy Who Makes Musical Videos About Everything”. The most unusual upshot of all this has been the propensity for total strangers to shout the following things at me during these situations (and yes, all of these really happened):
- Penn rushing out at 7 AM and dragging his garbage across the street because he missed the truck and wants him to get his trash on the way back. Neighbor notices and yells: Y’ALL SHOULD MAKE A VIDEO ABOUT THAT!
- Penn, dressed in sweats, throwing cardboard into the county recycling bin: Guy drives by and yells: Y’ALL SHOULD MAKE A VIDEO ABOUT TRASH!
- Penn, running to the end of the pool to get Penn Charles out – he’s just swam his first length and looks like he is about to sink to the bottom. Woman sees and yells: Y’ALL SHOULD MAKE A VIDEO ABOUT SWIM TEAM!
- Penn, waiting in a long line to use a Starbucks bathroom, because, you know, it’s 8:30 and that’s “Go-Time” for Penn. Woman waiting behind him remarks: Y’ALL SHOULD MAKE A VIDEO ABOUT WAITING IN LINE TO GO POOP!
I mean, obviously, #4 was my favorite, but they’ve all been pretty funny, considering the circumstances. They’ve also been extremely helpful; I can’t tell you how grateful I am for all the new ideas (we actually did the “Colder Weather” video after a woman sitting next to me on an airplane suggested it!) But it occurred to me that I probably should explain, at some point, what the criteria are for a Holderness Family Music Video. And I am going to do that on this Walk West, (formerly Greenroom Communications), blog because the criteria are nearly identical to what we look for here. Why is it worth it to make a video for your company, and what kind of video will be the most successful? The following is a list of what our team here at Walk West, (formerly Greenroom Communications) looks for when crafting stories for our clients.
- What is relatable? This is Number One with a bullet. In our family vids, we want other parents thinking, “Holy cow, do they have a hidden camera in our house? How are they going through the exact same things?” The idea is to establish an emotional (usually the emotion is humor) connection with our audience. If the idea isn’t relatable enough, we move on to something else. Same deal with companies. Our Rex Women’s Center video is an all-out, ridiculous musical production, but at the core of it are relatable moments for soon-to-be moms: everyone giving you random advice, having to pee during every conversation, getting groped by strangers, etc.
- What is current? This is getting more important every day. Remember the old days when an idea needed to be storyboarded, approved, edited, approved again, planned, shot, edited, and then approved? This happens less and less these days, because the smartest videos are the ones that appear to be living and breathing in the current times. There’s a need for this that arose when Twitter, Facebook, Vine, and YouTube allowed us to make near-instant reactions, and the need is really ramping up now that Periscope and Meerkat are giving us truly INSTANT reactions. In our family video library, we did an Oscar Night video that posted at 4AM while the celebs were still at their after- We did a Southern Snow video that talked about that random viral multicolor blue/black dress (it wasn’t really relevant to the topic, but showed the viewers that the video was fresh). We did instant songwriting for Fox Home Entertainment, and same week turnaround for H&R Block during tax season. They did very well. Now, in the corporate vid world, there is still planning, and approval, and there will always be. But you have to push the envelope to keep it current, or you run the risk of looking a little stale.
- What’s the creative vessel? This usually takes the most time to figure out, and if this one doesn’t feel like an amazing fit, you should probably go straight back to the drawing board. Our family vids are so often musical parodies – that’s an easy formula for a creative vessel – find a song you like, and make sure there are some good lyrical similarities (i.e. “All About that Baste”, “Every day they’re hoverin’”, “I like big buses, I cannot lie”). Those hooks are crucial; they get stuck in your head and they make you want to share. In the corporate world, we go with music when it provides a fun, fresh, unexpected atmosphere – for example, who would expect a bunch of hospital ER Doctors to start rapping?
However, we know music doesn’t always fit your needs. Another method we like to use is giving a brand, or a message, an actual human personality. “The Sodfather” is a caricature of a suburban dad mixed with, well, the Godfather. At the core is his message: quit doing stupid crap with your lawn. But the static message comes to life with this dynamic character. Other creative vessels are production heavy: dramatic lighting, slow-mo, time-lapse or animation. And still, we always try to go above and beyond that (even though our Production Director is AMAZING at those things!)
So, there you have it – the things we think about every time someone shouts Y’ALL SHOULD MAKE A VIDEO!!