Gratifying and powerful

I find it so gratifying in the age of instant analytics in our immediate results-based world, LMP clients really do benefit from our services long after we wrap up a project. One recent example happened this week while watching the NHL playoffs and seeing commercials that we produced over a month ago still delivering a poignant and powerful message. Video has that effect and will hold up over time.

And video marketing is no different. Companies and organizations are regularly updating their website content and more and more are using video on their homepage due to the fact search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo prefer video on the landing page and rank pages higher for that reason. One bonus to the boost in search ranking is once your highly ranked site is visited, that person will be spending more time on your site because of that same video. An average website visit on a non-video homepage is 43 seconds while a visit to a homepage with video is almost 6 minutes, 5 minutes and 50 second to be exact! Simply put, people will stay on your site more than 8 times longer if you have video on your homepage. Those two reasons are convincing enough until you learn that those same website visitors will use your site more, visiting more pages, to the tune of 80% engagement. Those are powerful numbers to consider for people looking to add a little zest and color to their marketing.

One fact we’ve known for a long time is that people really do remember what they watch and the stats bear that out too. Researchers have proven that 72 hours after people who watch a video they will retain 68% of the information versus 10% retention for those who read text or hear audio of that same material. For those of us looking to create a message that will stay with your viewer, those are very compelling numbers.

If you’re creating content in a selling process, promotional or recruiting campaign or looking to create a lasting memory for an event, using a well-produced video should provide the solution. The numbers back me up.

-Jim Johnston

Five easy tips for using a teleprompter

I am not a public speaker but enjoy speaking to small groups and have found it’s much easier to speak to a larger group when I have a crutch, like a PowerPoint presentation to follow along. But relying on the crutch can have its pitfalls. The same is true for using a teleprompter.

A teleprompter is a great tool for making presentations to camera, but as the topic expert, you need to acts like it and not just read like it. Here are 5 tips to help improve your performance with a teleprompter.

1.  Writing Your Script 

Most importantly, write your script to be spoken as you would normally speak and NOT as you would write. Keep in mind that your audience will hear your words and not see them, so it’s important to write in a conversational way. And use real world examples you feel your audience will identify with … it will make you more comfortable too.

2. Practice, practice and practice but don’t memorize

It’s important to have a very good handle on the content and flow of your address and know what your keys points are so you can emphasize those but you don’t want it to sound rehearsed. Re-read and rehearse to the point of knowing but not memorizing the presentation. Feeling comfortable with the content will allow you to focus on #3 …

3. Show passion, energy and warmth

By now we’ll assume you have a solid handle on the content and flow of your presentation, its time to focus on passion! It may feel odd but most people need to add a like extra energy to their delivery to camera to really show the passion and warmth your audience will respond to. If its appropriate, show a genuine smile as you start and end of your recording. And try to keep the energy high throughout, which can be a challenge. Use bold,  CAPITALIZED or underlined text in the script to help emphasize key words and remind you to keep the energy up!

4. Be yourself – use non verbal communication

What sets you apart from others is your personality so let it shine through during the presentation. You’ve written a conversational script, you’re feeling comfortable with the content and are ready to deliver it with passion and warmth. Act as you would when talking with a small group of friends, be animated, move your hands and feel comfortable enough to show facial expressions. And always remember to look your audience in the eyes, which in this case is the lens on the other side of the teleprompter screen … all of this will make your message more believable and you’ll connect with your audience.

5. You’re the expert, relax and enjoy the experience!

If you make presentations regularly then using a teleprompter should be a very useful tool, enjoy it! Allow your personality and knowledge of the content to shine through. The words on the screen will guide you through your message – have fun with it. You’re audience will feed off your energy and find you more believable.

If you are not used to addressing an audience, live or recorded, remember you are making this presentation because you are the expert.  And this presentation will prove it! Take a relaxing deep breath  just before you begin, focus your eyes on the teleprompter screen and enjoy the ride.

Good luck!

-Jim Johnston

Look Mom, I made a Corporate Video

My mother has no idea what I do.  I’ve worked in some form of video production since 1989, yet I have failed to communicate to her the basics of my profession.

See, to my Mom – I just can’t say “corporate video.”  When I do, I get that “Oh, that’s nice” answer from her – which really means, “I have no idea what my son just said.”

Truth be told, most people are not really sure what to make of Corporate Video.  “Oh, you do commercials?” – is normally the first response.

Actually, we shoot commercials, but the bulk of our work is telling stories.  We translate corporate messages into stories using the medium of video.

Sometimes the story is about the need for a cancer center outside of the Boston city limits.  Other times it’s a tale of how one world-renown institution teaches Science to students who are legally blind.  We also find ourselves producing a video where a Hall of Fame pitcher now goes to bat for kids in need.

So maybe I have to show my Mom what I do, then she’ll understand.  For that, she’ll need to go on-line . . . that of course, is whole new story.

– Jay Dobek

Now hear this – 5 steps to record better audio for video

If you watch enough web video it becomes pretty obvious that poor video quality seems to be everywhere. Thanks in part to the gazillion videos on YouTube, we’ve been saturated with so many shaky, poorly shot and produced videos that low quality seems to be the norm. It seems those lower standards for the general population has opened the door for businesses to post lower quality video content on their web pages too.

But what happens when you stumble across a video with bad audio? Like when the voice sounds are too low or crackling, or there’s extraneous noise and you’re strain to hear what the person is saying. If you’re like me you click away … and that is a lost opportunity! I’m always surprised when I see business and professional organizations who compromise their reputation by posting poor quality videos on their website or Facebook page. But I’m even more surprised when I witness BAD audio that can usually be avoided.

Capturing quality audio seems to be a lost art and it shouldn’t be. Recording audio with a camera mic is just not acceptable unless the camera has something to say!

Here are 5 simple things to consider when setting up to record audio for video:

1. Use a lavalier mic or boom mic with a stand. When using a boom mic position the mic stand arm in front of and over the interview subjects head and point the mic at their chin. This one step will go a long way towards getting the audio you desire.

2. Limit extraneous noise by staying away from high traffic areas, open windows, rooms next to elevators and closing doors. It seems obvious but it should be one of the first considerations when selecting a shoot location.  When in an area where there are some unavoidable sounds, put the interviewees’ back to the sound and be sure to have the microphone placed as close to their mouth as possible.

3. Avoid large rooms with an echo. If you hear a slight echo when setting up you will certainly hear it when your editing, then its too late.

4. Careful placement of a lavalier microphone. Lightweight fabric, necklaces and jewelry will move and rustle, creating too much noise if the interview subject adjusts even slightly, which creates unusable audio. It may seem awkward to ask people to run a microphone under a tie, blouse or collar but the benefits will outweigh the potential embarrassment.

5. Using headphones is required! A set of headphones that cover your ears will block out most  other sounds and allow you to focus on the audio you are capturing. Ear buds will work in a pinch but investing $25-$75 in a quality set of headphones will go a long way to hearing the problems so you can work to eliminate them.

Hopefully these tips will help. If you’d prefer to call a professional … look no further, LMP is always happy to help!

– Jim Johnston

 

Take advantage of the mobile explosion

Everywhere you look people are using smartphones. Standing in line for coffee, waiting for an appointment or walking down the street, their heads are down, eyes focused and thumbs are tapping frantically. Phones like the Droid, iPhone or Galaxy have become a commuter or frequent flyers’ constant companion. I have to admit being a little envious when my neighbor showed me his recent purchase, an HTC with a stunning 4.3-inch screen.

There’s no denying our appetite for mobile technology. There are over 100 million smartphone users in the U.S. and 30 million current tablet computer users, which is expected to climb to over 90 million by the end of 2014.  Those numbers are huge! Cisco reports that 52% of all mobile data was consumed by video, which means people are doing more than checking news, weather and Facebook updates.

Combine those use habits and stats with a growing 4G/LTE high speed data network and there is almost no limit to what a smartphone user can consume.

From a business perspective, we are all consumers. For B2B or B2C, that means more opportunity to entertain and inform using video. Customers and consumers are watching video at a rapidly growing rate. Those same people are making informed decisions, influenced by word-of-mouth, reviews and video views. They are selecting their doctor, buying a car, choosing where to bank and how to donate their money.

The growth trend of mobile video viewing is undeniable. How do you plan to reach your audience? The screens and eyeballs await …

– Jim Johnston

Welcome to our new virtual home

The name Last Minute Productions (LMP) started as joke in college.  Everything I did was exactly that — last minute.  So I injected humor into what could be a stressful situation and gave my work habits a name, “Last Minute Productions.”

In 2005, I found myself able to embark on what I always wanted to do — work for myself.  Finding the name was easy —  finding work was challenging.  Slowly, companies came to trust me.  As the jobs got bigger, I needed help — someone to handle the writing and producing.  Lucky for me, Gary Gillis was peddling his own company and was more than happy to help out.  We were fortunate and had opportunities to work with some amazing companies, including  The Home for Little Wanderers, Memorex, Catholic Memorial, and a number of hospitals throughout the state.

In 2007, Gary and I became partners and took LMP from a DBA to LLC.  Along the way, we’ve learned the meaning of plenty of business acronyms and what it takes to be successful in a competitive market like New England.  There are a lot of good video production companies in our area, so it goes without saying that price and quality matter.  What we always want to excel at is client relations.  We understand deadlines (it’s in our name).  We get that budgets are tight but standards are high.  Video can be hard work, long hours — we make sure that during every stage, no matter how stressful, somehow we will put a smile on our client’s face.

Maybe it’s because we have the privilege to shoot in cancer centers and schools for the blind that we  know not to take ourselves too seriously.

When Gary and I began this adventure, our offices were in my vacated step-daughter’s room and my dusty basement.  We now have a “grown-up” office space in Needham, Mass., which houses a studio and two edit bays.  One of those edit bays belongs to an extremely talented editor/compositor name Ryan Mecheski.  We also added another partner, Jim Johnston.  Jim and I were roommates in college for a year — he might have been the first person with whom I shared the joke about “Last Minute Productions.”

The first website we had was built on trade — Springsteen tickets.  Today, we proudly show off our new site.  Thanks to the good people at SPIN350 — spin350.com — we can now easily add new videos, write blogs, and post photos of our dogs.  (We are very happy about the last part.)

Thanks for finding us on the Web and reading my first blog. I promise the next one will be so much better.

Take care,

— Jay Dobek