Friday, June 22, 2012

Video PR

Telling the story of mentoring to recruit volunteers and to solicit funding or in-kind contributions is just as important as a school’s capturing the hearts of the private, public, and business communities to seek mentoring partnerships at its site.  Photographs, particularly videos, are essential, but the cost of producing videos professionally has been prohibitive.

Today’s discussion involves samples of video along with some ideas and excerpts from conversations. (All of us have clever, adaptable ideas!)

Video 1

Jordan Witt-Araya sent the following mentoring video. The council plans to make two more.  In this way, a handful of videos will reflect the diversity of the council’s mentors and mentees. Jordan and a group of his friends make the videos using Canon and Nikon cameras and Final Cut Pro for editing.  Emails, 6-4-12 & 6-5-12

Jordan Witt-Araya  M.A., Conexiones/Planner, Community Service Council

Successful students, healthy families, engaged communities

Tulsa Area Community Schools Initiative (TACSI) is a program of the Community Service Council, a United Way partner agency

Video 2 & Idea

Melynda Stone sent the following example of a Movie Maker video she made and showed at the Volunteers for Youth’s spring Mentor Recognition Luncheon.

At the luncheon themed "Believe, Achieve, Succeed," every mentor received a silicone wrist band with that sentiment.  The speaker was Claremore Police Officer Robin Blair, the school resource officer for Claremore Public Schools.  She noted the dedication she sees from the mentors and applauded their efforts to help young people "believe, achieve, succeed."  Email, 6-13-12

Video 3

Melynda had a video produced professionally in 2008, the year that Larry Parker was named the first Boren Mentoring Initiative Mentor of the Year.  The video, however, cost $1,000, which a local credit union, the Claremore Lions Club, and the area prevention resource center underwrote.  [This has an effective script format for featuring one mentor and one mentee. ‘Applause for Mendy!]

Flip Cameras & Techsoup

At a Tulsa Community Foundation meeting recently, Melynda learned that a "flip camera" is a digital video camera/editing software package you can purchase.  She looked on Techsoup, but unfortunately they were currently not offered.  Techsoup offers nonprofits free or inexpensive technical software and equipment.  She has also begun to use Microsoft Movie Maker, which came loaded on her computer.  It's easy to make a video with still photos from that program.  Email, 6-13-12

Melynda Stone, Executive Director, Volunteers for Youth...because they're worth it!

Another Online Resource

Annie Macumber, an Oklahoma City Arts Council staff liaison for the Community Arts Program and also an AmeriCorps volunteer, produced her own professional-looking video for the Community Arts Showcase at the Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts in April.  Her resource was One True Media.     Conversation 4-26-12

Another Idea

Janet King, assistant principal and current interim principal of Columbus Elementary, and I were discussing a recruiting video.  After sharing some strategies of Oklahoma City Whiz Kids’ founder Masie Bross, Janet mentioned the capability of producing her school’s own video with knowledge and skill from herself and her talented staff.  If a school lacks talent, perhaps the district could produce a video for each school wanting a mentoring program, but it should be school-specific with scripting and production input from the staff members, who really know the children, the parents, and situations firsthand.  A generic mentoring video for a school district will not generate the impact that individual schools’ videos will.  Conversation 6-20-12

Adaptation of One of Masie’s Strategies

Years ago, Masie Bross researched a particular neighborhood and case studies of individual students and then had the case studies read to a group of people.  The adaptable idea is to research and film briefly the neighborhood, including economic and census statistics if applicable, the school, and children’s stories as the focus.  If real students or actual names cannot be used, then perhaps teachers or child “actors” can tell or read the case stories.  Conversation 6-12-12

For example, Mark, a seven-year-old boy with ADHD, comes from a single-parent home.  He has three younger brothers and one sister.  His mother does not have much time for him, and he must help with his siblings.  His reading level is below first grade.  Mark suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder because his mother’s last live-in boyfriend, a heroin addict who was often arrested and handcuffed in front of the family, was shot while Mark, huddled in a corner, watched.  Mark loves OKC Thunder, and he hopes his mentor will just hang out with him and talk to him about basketball.  Can you read with Mark about basketball and occasionally shoot a few hoops?  (Fictional person based upon facts)

The Intended Audience & Nature of the Video

Different audiences require different persuasion.  The ease in making presentations and multiple price options allow creation of an arsenal of focused videos.  Do you want to recruit a business, a church group, or a community to mentor a school or participate in an existing mentoring program?  What do you want from that group—volunteers, supplies, money, or occasional projects?  What approach will engage a group?  If someone asks a business to support a mentoring program, what is the cost versus benefit for the business, which loses productivity in multiple ways when an employee is gone?  What attracts religious groups?  Why should an entire community become involved?  How is recruiting in a small town different?  Do mentors need to know math above fourth grade?  How do we show positive results, and how do we effectively convey gratitude or celebrate service?

[We need to collect hard, objective data, not just objective surveys, to prove value and improve our practices.  Longitudinal, standardized data must begin to be collected even by smaller mentoring organizations.]

Other Possible Resources

Post-Secondary Education 

If a college, university, or career tech is nearby, ask the department chair or an instructor if students can produce videos for your group.  (Ask to let your mentees and mentors help if time allows.)


For promoting corporate mentoring and/or for National Mentor Month, ask corporations with the capacity to produce in-house  videos, especially about their own mentoring programs.  These can be posted on YouTube but also ask for a DVD.


Ask a photography or video club in your area to volunteer to produce a video.


Sponsor or co-sponsor a community contest for the best videos promoting what you need as generally outlined in the contest rules you create.  One of the requirements should be that a team must be composed of various ages so that collaboration and learning are reciprocal and creativity is limitless.  Winners can be announced at an organization’s next large meeting, a local chamber breakfast, a local festival, in the newspapers, online, etc.

Religious Groups 

If churches or synagogues participate in your school or mentoring program, ask the video staff to produce or help produce a video.


Give mentees disposable cameras or have them use their cellphone cams to take photos or videos at events and then use portions of their efforts.  List their names, e.g., Maria, Age 8, in the credits, of course! [Principal Cindi Hemm said that some of the poorest of the poor at Tulsa’s Eugene Field Elementary School had iPhones and iPads so her teachers use the technology in the classroom.  Conversation 6-15-12]

Happy News

Tulsa Community Foundation has selected Volunteers for Youth as one of four area nonprofits that will have its website totally re-designed for free.  This is going to require a lot of work on Melynda’s part, but it's going to be so awesome!  Melynda Stoner   Email, 6-13-12

Next week will feature activities along with some recognition and mentoring stories.

Share your suggestions on PR, marketing, video resources, recruiting, and other topics.


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