Writing a charity video brief
Here at Purple Flame Media we see a broad range of briefs for video projects. Creating a thorough brief helps ensure that you effectively communicate your requirements but it also helps you to think through your needs and ensure that you maximise ROI and effectiveness. So, I thought that it would be useful to highlight some of the key questions to think about when writing a brief:
Who is the target audience?
Identifying and understanding your audience is critical when planning a video production. The tone and style of the film will differ depending on the target audience. Depending on whether the video is for existing supporters, to attract new donors, to promote a new campaign or to tell a beneficiary story, the messaging and creative will differ.
When writing a creative brief we also define secondary audiences for whom the film will have an appeal. We often edit videos to a variety of different audiences or channels and thinking through secondary audiences ensures that the video gains maximum reach and effectiveness.
What are the key messages?
It’s important to have a clear idea of the lasting impression you want to leave the audience with, to know what’s distinctive about you and your message & what call to action this message should lead to. It’s useful to keep this part of the brief short and succinct, we usually define no more than three key messages to ensure the video stays on target.
Writing the overall message in a clear and simple statement is a good start. We advise creating a ‘proposition statement’ which encapsulates the main thread of the film and helps give clarity to all who are involved on the production. For example: “This film will show existing supporters how our funding for research has led to new treatments and the film will encourage them to commit to regular giving to support further research”
The proposition should be closely defined to your fundraising strategy and overall marketing campaign; it’s useful to define how the video fits into your wider digital communications strategy.
What are the key outcomes for the video?
Thinking about the key outcomes after viewers have watched the video is essential in the planning stage. By listing the outcomes you desire, the changes your film will motivate and the likely impact on your work helps to ensure effectiveness. Defining what people will do and feel when they’ve watched the film (donate, contact for more information, campaign, learn, be inspired to volunteer...) is important. Also, defining the impact the video will have on your charity (increase donations, legacy income, supporter numbers, understanding your work/brand...) is useful.
Key outcomes don’t need to be a direct action, many of the films we produce are created for educational purposes or to increase awareness. When key outcomes are clear at the planning stage, the video will be more engaging, inspiring and effective.
Where will the video be shown?
The video may have a very specific use such as re-branding a charity or launching a new appeal or it may be for a variety of uses. When we know where someone is most likely to see the video we can tailor it appropriately.
The delivery of content will differ depending on whether the video will be designed for DVD, YouTube or Twitter. It’s important to define at this stage where the video will be shown as for different channels the video length may differ. For example, if it’s to be shown on social media shorter clips of 30-60 seconds are more engaging but if the video is to be sent to supporters on a DVD then the video could be nearer 10 minutes long. For on-line and website use, most videos aim for maximum 3 minutes. For example, we recently produced a number of videos of varying lengths for Jamie Oliver's Food Foundation for use on their website and social media channels.
Where will filming take place?
It’s useful to have an idea of suitable case studies which fit with your key messages and outcomes. If you have an idea of locations, the production company can more easily estimate how long the project will take and the budget required.
When does the video need to be finished?
The video may need to be ready to show at a campaign launch date or at a specific event. Having a clear idea of when the video needs to be ready enables us to plan a clear production schedule and ensure adequate time for planning, filming and the various stages of editing. A shared schedule enables us to plan, prepare and if necessary, book freelancers to ensure that the video is produced on budget and on time.
What is your budget?
This is obviously a difficult quantity to define at the early stages but thinking about this at the proposal stage will help to ensure the video meets your needs. If you define a price range and gain two or three different quotes you can gain a variety of costings and creative ideas thus enabling you to make an informed decision on which production company to work with. We’ve been working with charities of all sizes for over 16 years now and we can tailor our work to fit most budgets. We work closely with clients to provide bespoke budgets and creative concepts and we regularly produce a number of videos from one filming project thus ensuring that our clients get the maximum return on their investment.
Once the above questions have been answered, a production company can give you a more targeted brief and more focused creative ideas. Time spent on defining a quality creative brief will ensure that your video gains maximum reach and achieves your desired outcomes. Thinking through these questions at the planning stage will help to create a compelling video which engages with target audiences and encourages them to watch, care and share.
For more information on planning and producing a charity video, here’s our video production guide.