10 Do's and Dont's of Effective Storytelling


We all love stories. Ever since we were little, stories were integral to our imagination and, of course, our bedtime routine. It has been proven in study after study that humans remember, relate, and retain more information from a story that we see and hear, than say a PowerPoint presentation or white paper that we read. For many of us, visual representation not only better engages us on more levels, it also gives us a peek into individuals’ lives that would otherwise be unseen. In this blog, we’ll discuss some of the storytelling techniques that can enhance every brand/ company.

Here are a few storytelling do’s and don’ts that can turn a basic story into a memorable one:

  1. DO have passion for and knowledge of the topic – perfect the "elevator pitch" i.e. be able to tell the premise of the story in 1-2 sentences
  2. DO make it relevant and – if you’re going to bother telling a story, tell something your mother will understand and appreciate
  3. DO create something that’s immersive to your target audiences and draws them in
  4. DO make sure the look and feel match the message you’re conveying
  5. DO watch videos related to the topic – this can help motivate you, get your creative juices flowing, and open your mind to new possibilities
  6. DON’T make it feel like you’re selling something – just tell a story and keep the topic flowing
  7. DON’T tell. Show. Allow your visuals to speak for the story. We do this all the time in our civilian lives, but for some reason clam-up in business
  8. DON’T forget about the importance of teamwork – having a diverse group of collaborators allows for an exchange of ideas, as well as different backgrounds, cultures, religions, etc.
  9. DON’T overcomplicate it – keep it simple (stupid)
  10. DON’T hesitate to go for a laugh

Above all, bring your passion to every story you tell. That “feeling” of being authentic, personal, and real will come through more than anything else. End of story.

Stocked & Loaded

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We left you in 2017 looking back on a crazy year of ups & downs. FSP had mostly ups, and we all learn from those, but as with much of life, we learn more from our hiccups.

This week we’re going to discuss how we use stock videos & photos. It sounds simple. We all use any number of assets to enhance our clients’ pieces. However, are we using them properly

When I was in the news biz, and it continues today, it’s common to use “file” footage, which can be anything from fire b-roll to fighting in Syria. They’ll font it “file” and leave it at that. Sometimes it does the trick, but most of the time, the “file” footage falls short of its mark. It doesn’t really nail what the anchor is reading.

We all know that in corporate video, we deal with the same issues. We buy stock videos & photos to support projects as we need them, just like with music—a quick plug for our wonderful music/ audio guru @soundslikejoe. Buying stock assets is becoming more and more common. Clients would just assume we buy a relatively inexpensive stock clip rather than shoot specific b-roll. One of our challenges is to explain the value of specificity to our clients. As with most things, some get it right away and, well, some don’t.

There, absolutely, are times when generic is “good enough,” however, that phrase is the enemy of great, which is what we’re always trying to achieve. Just ask our DP/ Sr. Editor/ Ops Dir., Karl Wagner. But, I digress.

Bottom line: Just like when I was producing news, we need to make sure our stock footage—“file”—properly supports the piece and is not the easy way out. Heck, we just had a beautiful snowfall here in Charlotte and we shot some footage right outside our door! Now we have our own stock snow b-roll. Think of those opportunities.

Giving clients a little more pushback against the use of generic videos & photos, might be a way to both better service those we serve, and help our bottom line.

Till next time.

10 Tips to Telling a Tale

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When the average person thinks about a documentary film in terms of how it’s put together, they might often have the misconception that it’s developed, filmed, edited, and distributed by a “one man band.” Many think that it’s easier to produce than say your average blockbuster because it involves real people. Surprisingly though, that’s not the case.

Documentary films require a tremendous amount of time and effort, brainstorming ideas that’ll be intriguing to audiences, collecting materials, conducting research, and most importantly, focusing on a topic the filmmaker is passionate about and audiences will appreciate. It takes a lot of thought and care.

Below are some essential tips you should consider when producing a doc:

  1. Topic & interviewees need to be interesting
  2. Storytelling needs to be relatable to audiences
  3. Keep storyline as tight as possible
  4. Make sure your film is educational, engaging, and entertaining
  5. Don’t rush your film to make an arbitrary deadline
  6. Collaborators are important—know what you don’t know. In order to make our documentary film, Jewish American Soldiers: Stories from WWII a success, we needed great researchers, funders, editors, graphic designers, sound designers, etc. There’s no “I” in “documentary”
  7. Keep an open mind to others' ideas in order to produce a better film
  8. Don’t wait for $$$. You need to capture interview and b-roll when your subjects are available. A striking example of this is in our film. We interviewed 12 WWII veterans, however, by the time we premiered the film, three of those “Greatest Generation” veterans had passed
  9. Be careful not to get into too much debt, unless you can afford it
  10. Being organized and having a detailed timeline are crucial

Here are a few questions to think about as you ponder your doc:

  • What topic(s) are you passionate about?
  • What kind of story do you want to tell?
  • What emotion are you trying to evoke?
  • What impact are you hoping to achieve?
  • Who’s your intended audience?

There’s no perfect way to direct & produce a doc. However, following our tips will help with your filmmaking process. It’ll still be an arduous journey, but we’re sure that it will be rewarding.

Please let us know your tips for producing a doc. Talk to you again next time.

What do Dogs with Vlogs Have to do With Your Communications Goals?


Whether you like it or not, at this very moment a certain percentage of your workforce is most likely online watching a vlog of some sort. It may or may not be work-related. In fact, it may even be a dog’s vlog. (Seriously, just do one quick YouTube search on “dog vlog” and see how many come up.) Why not turn that habit into an opportunity to deliver one your key messages “first hand” via an executive from your leadership team? The more your employee base or key external audiences see and hear from your leadership team, the more relatable the messages and the individuals become. What’s stopping you? Your audience is already there.

If you think you and your team lack the time and/or budget to create, script, produce and post a vlog at regular intervals we can help. Our team can work with your in-house subject matter experts to craft key messages, script and prep your executives, create an editorial calendar for the vlogs, pace them at an appropriate rate to post and then post and provide you with the metrics on who’s viewing them and how often.

Sound too good to be true? It’s not, and if you’re not leveraging regularly-scheduled video messaging, and in this case, in the form of a vlog, you’re truly leaving a gap in your overall integrated marketing communication plans regardless of whether it’s an internal or external audience your team is tasked with reaching and influencing.

Also, if a four-legged creature is part of your family, next time you find yourself on YouTube make sure he’s not vlogging without you knowing about it. Or, better yet, set up your furry friend with his own. In the mean time just reach out to us if you’d like to talk vlogs.

The Power of a Story… #1 of the Top 5 Reasons Why Video Works

We’ve arrived at number one of our “top five reasons video works” — storytelling. It’s why video works as a communications tool unlike any other. It allows for anecdotal and conversational messaging — the kind that resonates like no other.

Video is the perfect medium to tell stories or use analogies to emphasize your messaging and allow it to be truly heard. Covering a speaker with support video — or B-roll — that illustrates the topic, shows a brand, and provides for visual learning strategies is a powerful and proven tool.

If you think storytelling has no application in a corporate environment consider Apple’s Super Bowl ad “1984” from… well… 1984. It’s still one of the most talked about, studied, and dissected pieces of corporate messaging that heralded the dawn of the digital age. And, guess what? Besides being shown only once, it told a story: visually, audibly, and emotionally.  There’s a reason we can still conjure up the images of the runner with the giant sledgehammer.

When a message is paired with compelling images, a strong storyline, and specific context to make it relatable it’s truly powerful. When you think of that Apple spot, do you remember the soldiers running, people sitting, the woman in running shorts throwing a sledgehammer, the giant screen shattering?! Maybe you even remember the product being advertised: the first Macintosh.

Whichever it is, next time you’re faced with reaching out across your key audiences, make sure video is in your mix of tactics and use that power to delivery your messaging.

Everybody’s Body Tells a Story… #2 of the Top 5 Reasons Why Video Works

Lately we’ve been discussing the “top five reasons video works” — and we’ve arrived at number two – body language. Everybody’s body adds critical data to the stories they are telling, and the information they’re conveying. Whether it’s one-on-one, or an image being broadcast to a wide audience; there’s no getting around our brain’s hardwired ability to pick up on visual cues.

E-mail, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram strip these cues from messaging unless video is included. In a corporate world with ever-decreasing budgets, but always increasing expectations and objectives, video is one of the few proven tactics to offer a solid ROI.

At times, visual cues can be more important than what’s being said. Consider the classic case study of the Kennedy/Nixon presidential debate. Candidate Kennedy was tan, rested, well tailored, calm, precise, and measured in his comments. When answering questions he fixed his gaze comfortably at the camera. Nixon, on the other hand, was rumpled, pale and sweaty, and his gaze kept shifting away from the camera. In the days prior to the broadcast he had been battling a flu that left him 20 pounds underweight. He was also nursing a bad knee that he just so happened to bash again when exiting his car to enter the studio. It was the first televised presidential debate our country ever witnessed and the addition of a visual element to the proceedings did not bode well for Nixon.

Those who listened to the debate on the radio declared Nixon the victor, but people who watched on TV overwhelmingly called Kennedy the clear winner.

Fast-forward to 2008 and consider the power of the visuals and sound bites from a fit, young, candidate impeccably tailored in a skinny suit, using traditional media and social media to leverage video messaging as if he grew up with it. You get the picture…

Keep these examples in mind as you consider video as a communications tool to leverage the complex and critical element of non-verbal communications. The right video production team will help you choose an appropriate subject matter expert to put on camera, craft the messaging, and coach the delivery of it.

This year, make sure your communications team is making the best use of your budget and deploying tactics that include video to ensure your audience is being reached. That way, next time budget season rolls around you have a strong case for the effectiveness of the tactics you’ve deployed. And, when you present that case in person, realize what you are saying is as critical as how your body is reinforcing what you are saying.

Talk to you next week…

What’s In It For Me? #3 of the Top 5 Reasons Why Video Works

Lately we’ve been discussing the “top five reasons video works.” We’re now at number three, which boils down to “relatability.” It’s also sometimes referred to as the classic “WIIFM” or “What’s In It For Me?” reaction to information.

When done right, a key message delivered in first-person, using video as the medium can quickly establish the critical element for viewer engagement, and an answer to, “What’s in it for me?” It’s all about setting the right tone and tenor for a brand, company, and/or organization. Time and again, video is the proven “go to” communications tool to get this done right.

Think of it this way, your audience (regardless of the demographic you’re trying to reach) has established their own “trusted sources” for information as professionals, as well as in their daily lives as consumers of news. In a digital age these sources are no longer print-based; they’re utilizing all the assets of video – sound, intonation, and supporting images and graphics, to establish credibility and the critical element of relatability. And therefore, the messages are getting through to to their audiences.

So, the next time you have a message that needs to reach across your enterprise, remember to make the best use of your communications dollars and turn to a tactic with a time-tested ROI. Talk to you next week. In the mean time, be mindful of the sources you trust for your news and it will no doubt remind you of the power of video.

… Money, Money, Money… Money! #4 of the Top 5 Reasons Why Video Works

Lately we’ve been discussing the Top Five Reasons Video Works — and we’re now at number four. We’ve been delving deeper into each aspect so that you get a better understanding of the return on your video dollars, and we’re helping you sort out what makes sense. It turns out that today’s topic is just that — dollars and good sense.

Corporate video production is an industry built upon a foundation of a proven, time-tested tactic. That’s no small feat in a digital age. It’s also one of the few tactics that has yet to be eclipsed by a disruptive technology. Granted, the device upon which you and your customers are watching a video has changed significantly over the years, as has the technology used to produce it. However, one thing remains constant: video is a proven return on investment of your communications dollars.

It’s simply common sense that in order for a message to resonate it must be heard, and it must be put into a meaningful context. A well-produced video created by a trusted, efficient, and experienced source does just that, and more. It’s a return on investment unlike any other in your integrated marketing communications plan. We’ve heard time and time again from our clients both big and small that deadlines, budgets, and headcount are all being compressed exponentially, but they report that video continues to be one of the few tactics they consistently count on for results.

So, next time you have a message that needs to reach across your enterprise remember to make sense of your communications dollars and turn to a tactic with a time-tested ROI.

Watch it… #5 of the Top 5 Reasons Why Video Works

In our last post we discussed the “Top 5 Reasons Video Works”. For the next five posts, we’ll dig deeper into each of those five to break ‘em down further to give you a better understanding of the return on your video dollars.

#5: Like it or not, you, your employees, peers, and your senior leadership team exist in a digital environment. To efficiently and effectively communicate across your enterprise your audience quite frankly is expecting a visual format, and video is the standard.

The web and social media have recalibrated our collective expectations not only on how information should be disseminated, but also the pace at which we can receive and retain information when effectively presented.

So, next time you have a message that needs to reach across your enterprise think, “show it and they’ll watch it.” You know your audience spends a considerable amount of time online absorbing video messaging at an unprecedented pace. Make sure your messages are part of that flow of information.

Our team can help you develop a project timeline and digital editorial calendar. We can assist you in creating video communications that are paced throughout the year to ensure you are getting through to your audience. From concept to final production, let us help you plan your strategy to allow your messages to resonate.

Top 5 Reasons Video Works


We’re a little more than five months into the new year, which means this month serves as a good reminder of the “top five” reasons why video works as a communications tool unlike any other.

Let’s get started:

Five: It’s a visual medium in a world where your audience (regardless of the demographic) is now not only accustomed to receiving their information in a visual or video format, but quite frankly they expect it.  The web and social media have recalibrated our collective expectations on how information should be disseminated.

Four: It’s a proven return on investment of your communications dollars. When you find the right team that allows your production to be professionally and efficiently project managed, it’s truly hard to beat in terms of return on dollars spent.

Three: Video messages can set the tone and tenor of very important key messaging for a brand, company, and/or organization. When a message is delivered in the first person using video, it can be unlike any other tactic. If you’re faced with framing an argument, or defending your company’s reputation in a world where everyone with a phone or laptop has a voice and can be heard, it’s invaluable.

Two: The ability to pick up on non-verbal communications. In a digital age, taking in someone’s body language and intonation are invaluable.

And the number one reason why video works as a communications tool unlike any other: It allows for anecdotal and conversational messaging – the kind that resonates like no other. Video is the perfect medium to tell stories or use analogies to emphasize your messaging and allow it to be truly heard. Covering a speaker with support video - or B-roll - that illustrates the topic, is a powerful and proven tool. Video allows this and ensures consistent message delivery.

So, once you’ve had time to think about how these five reasons can apply to your 2017 goals, give us a call and let us know how we can help.