Five Key Tips When Hiring a Video Production Firm

By on Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Video production is becoming a bigger player in nonprofit and association communications, as the cost of gathering footage becomes cheaper and anyone can produce video footage on an iPhone, iPad, FlipCam, webcam or other digital camera. While collecting video footage is easier than ever before, many organizations still need to hire a video production firm to produce quality video work. Here’s a few tips on what to ask when hiring a video firm and requesting a proposal:

#1 – Make your needs clear – Outline the project you have in mind and what end products you are seeking. What is the audience for the video production? What is the goal you are trying to achieve through a video production? Is there an action you want for viewers to take after watching the video? What end product are you seeking? Do you want a 5-minute video about your nonprofit’s vision, mission, services and goals for the future that can be run on your YouTube channel and shown on a wide screen at a conference? Do you want 15-second and 30-second public service announcements for television broadcast in multiple file formats?  Do you want a series of videos that highlight stories of people assisted by or involved with your agency or organization?

#2 – Where will the video footage/images for the production come from? Do you have stock footage of quality that can be used? Will the firm use footage shot by amateurs on an iPhone or sent from far away because travel is cost-prohibitive? Will the firm need to travel to shoot b-roll or can they do interviews in your office or in the community where you work? Or in their own studio? Will they need to film in multiple locations or just one? What type of equipment may be needed? Is there something going on that is active and can be filmed, or is it going to be a person being interviewed in front of a backdrop? Do you own the rights or have permission to use (this is often an issue with news footage) all of the existing photos and video footage that you want used in the piece? Or will the firm need to help you request these permissions? Will a voice over be used? Will a voice over professional be hired?

#3 – What is the creative process used by the firm? What timeline is practical for the project? Will this meet your deadline? At what phase in the project will you see a draft for the production and/or scripting for voice overs? How much time will you have to review them and provide feedback? How will edits, or multiple rounds of edits, impact the timeline and costs for the project? What is the firm’s creative philosophy? How does the firm get to know its new clients and their needs, and craft a video production that meets those needs? How does the firm approach storytelling? What creative elements does the firm recommend be considered that help the production meet its goals?

#4 – What other work has the company done? If the company has done work with other nonprofits or associations similar to yours, ask to see clips or links to online footage. Request (and contact) client references with contact names, phones numbers and email addresses. What is the quality of the company’s prior work in video production? Did the video production work meet the goals of its customers?

#5 – What is the budget for the project? An itemized budget that illustrates costs for shooting days for the video production and editing time estimates can help you see where money is being allocated for the project. They can also help you keep expectations realistic and on-budget.  Will your organization need to provide a deposit up front for half of the cost?

More Resources
Telling Your Story with Video – National Council of Nonprofits

Ami Neiberger-Miller is a public relations strategist and writer. She is the founder of Steppingstone LLC, a virtual and independent public relations practice near Washington, D.C. that provides public relations counsel, social media advice, writing services, and creative design work for publications and websites (portfolio). Ami blogs frequently about media relations, social media, public relations and other issues. She also reviews books on her blog about public relations, nonprofit life, work-family balance and social media practice. Follow her on Twitter @AmazingPRMaven.

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