Secrets to Making Great College Videos

As a higher education marketer, development or admissions officer, you probably didn’t think you’d ever need to be a filmmaker, but times change, and videos are now an important part of your communication strategy. At Tribe, we’re filmmakers, and we can help you with tips to make your videos more effective in their purpose. We have written a white paper that explains what film does best; when you should use it; how to define the problem your video needs to solve; why good production values are important; and how to best reach your target audience with your message.

Sometimes you need to communicate information. Other times you need to spark emotion. Film is perfect to stir the heart and reach the soul. Film can also get people thinking about new institutional initiatives, introduce a new president, and start conversations about important ideas. Remember, a great film will consistently deliver your message every time it’s viewed. It doesn’t have an off day (like the rest of us).

Colleges and universities must now feed the video appetite of an insatiable Internet. But be careful not to diminish your message by flooding the market. You have to identify the problem you want your video to solve and then aim only one or two videos at the solution. Otherwise you will dilute your message and reduce the number of views. You want people to return to your web site again and again; and you want to make a powerful impression at campaign launch events.

You need to have a reason to make a video. Just because it’s easier to make a video today doesn’t mean you should make one. Why do you need a video? What problem are you trying to solve? Do prospects have an impression that you’re too big? Too small? Too remote? Does alumni involvement not translate into alumni dollars? Define your problem; determine if video is the best way to solve it; and then make a video that specifically targets the problem and embodies the solution.

And be careful not to make the mistake of sacrificing quality for quantity. Just because a cat video goes viral on the Internet doesn’t mean you can churn out videos with sloppy production values. Your videos are a reflection of your institution, and you want to project an image of quality.

Finally, think through a strategy for the length of your videos and the best venues for distribution. Many institutions are making a number of shorter videos that build on themes rather than one longer video that includes multiple messages. Videos for campaign events are entirely different than ones on your web site to entice applications.

And always, always remember that every video has to tell a compelling story. Your “brand” is found in the stories you tell about your institution. Make sure you tell the right story and tell it well.

Tribe has a history of helping colleges and universities with strategic marketing. Read our white paper and send me an email if we can be of help to you at

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“It’s one thing to understand the role of video in business communication, it’s another to know how to use video to solve actual business problems. Vern Oakley gets that.”


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