paul andrew skidmoreparabolos

cinematic storytelling, strategy, and advice

clarity: building a bridge to your audience

my team and i have helped several non-profits and ministries tell their story over the years, many of whom have been active for decades. being around for that many years can lead to a few things. first and most important, it means these organizations have helped a ton of people. so praise God for that!

but for many organizations with longevity, it can also mean that necessary services and essential programs can sprawl in scope, leaving outsiders confused about an organization’s core mission. furthermore, popular and promoted events can give the public an impression that this particular aspect is the most important (or perhaps only!) thing an org does. this can end up harming the image of an organization if those events aren’t deeply connected to the core mission.

this can be frustrating for the staff, and it can hinder fundraising and volunteer recruiting. more importantly, it can keep people from getting help they need, not knowing the services are there for them to take advantage of.

reasons like this begin to create a gap between public perception and an organization’s actual work.

bridging the gap

all companies struggle with this “clarity gap”, but non-profits and ministries especially can find it difficult to communicate on their own, for some very good and understandable reasons.

  • communicating with the outside world takes a back seat to day-to-day helping people, as it should in any organization serious about their mission.
  • org staff spend all day in the intricate peculiarities of their work, but outsiders can get quickly confused about in-house lingo and details about specifics — a gap that can be difficult to bridge. (these terms and details can be important & helpful later on, but can hurt initially when advertising, raising money, or recruiting volunteers.)
  • in many cases, even when there’s good in-house PR and marketing, most people at non-profits are there because they have a heart for the mission, not necessarily because they’re expertly trained & experienced.
  • and in my experience, even talented, veteran PR & marketing folk are rarely familiar with strategies for using high-quality video, much less how to create it.

to combat this, an organization can do three things:

1. get some technical advice

some orgs would benefit from just a little help with purchasing recommendations, guidance with setup, and basic technique training.

while many non-profits or churches don’t have in-house media departments, the good news is the expectations of their audience are not exceedingly high when it comes to a catalog of content (advertising materials are a different story). there’s lots of ways orgs can engage with people through video, reminding the world they’re out there. video blogs of events, facebook live, and instagram stories are just a few of the low-cost catalogs of content an org can produce throughout the year to stay at the front of people’s minds.

the things people think about most rise in importance in their minds. this is crucial to remember when they have some extra cash they’re wanting to donate or looking for volunteer opportunities. staying engaged with them can be inexpensive and easy with a little professional advice on the front end.

2. strategize a video marketing playbook

what’s the video plan for the year? most orgs don’t do any kind of video, so when they start heading in that direction, they’re not even sure what questions to ask or how to make a plan. having a professional walk the team through the basics here can help them develop their own plan for using video that adheres to their values, speaks in their voice, and captures the attention of their clients.

having these thoughts and goals put into the form of a “playbook” helps everyone in the org understand the plan at hand. when other choices need to be made down the road, there’s a playbook to guide decision making. and with a detailed playbook, what to make and when to publish it is predetermined, freeing the staff from an on-going burden. staff that’s constantly having to re-invent this wheel with no plan can lead to three things: a staff member who’s burned out, a staff member who isn’t doing the work they were hired to do, or video marketing that starts off strong and then gets forgotten about.

3. high-quality cinematic production

even orgs that can produce their own on-going content can really be helped by at least one high-quality film that rises above everything else, makes a timeless statement about who they are, and captivates their network of friends with its bite-sized beauty. beyond that, many organizations would do well to have these productions done for major services and important events as well.

the ongoing channel chatter of in-house video and social media is good for people in the know, but people who aren’t already familiar with a company or non-profit can be left out. you can’t talk to new people and old friends at the same time in the same way. a high-quality spot can bring the new people in, quickly giving them the foundational understanding they need to become part of the in-crowd with your group.

i mentioned earlier the expectation for non-profit and ministry content is low EXCEPT in the case of advertising materials. this isn’t a double standard. this is about clarity. well-done, attractive marketing will be clear. poor design is less about something being ugly and more about it being confusing. clarity requires a design simplicity that is extremely difficult for the average person to achieve. professionals, on the other hand, work in this world a lot. what you may spend on the front end for a professional to create for you, you stand to make back — and then some — in having a wider audience and spending less time trying to hack it out for yourself.

guess what — we do all three of these

you’ve no doubt noticed that the three things i’m suggesting are the exact three things from our “what we do” page. i’m not recommending these solutions because it’s what we do; we do these things because they are the solution.


get clarity

clarity is critical for connection. if people can’t grasp what you do or what you’re selling, they (and their dollars) will smile and move on. let us help you grab a larger audience with clear, inviting stories. that way, you can get back to doing what you do best.

if we can give you advice, help you develop a strategic video playbook, or create a beautiful spot for you, get in touch.


skidmore | administrator

believer. follower. filmmaker.

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