The Blog


Video testimonials remain one of the most effective ways for a company to show off the impact of an initiative or product. We spent two days in Boston in June capturing sessions from EverFi’s Annual Research Summit as well as interviews that could be used in individual pieces like this.

In the news world, covering ribbon cuttings is one of the pains of the profession. When you’ve reported on one, you’ve reported on them all. The setting usually entails an outside environment, throngs of people, a giant pair of scissors, and clapping. Lots of clapping.

We know this backdrop well. The Spiracle Media team is made up of reformed reporters. We’ve all covered our fair share of ribbon cuttings. As blasé as I’m making it seem, the ribbon cutting last month was anything but typical.

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Sergeant Drew Mullee lost a leg more than a year ago when an IED exploded while on patrol in southeast Asia. Our good friends at Patriot Charities worked around the clock for months building a new abode to give to Mullee and his family. Their new digs are adorned with flat screen TVs, furniture, and no price tag.

When the ribbon was cut and keys were passed on to Mullee, the clapping seemed on beat with the camera shutters capturing the commotion. Somewhere lost in the lenses was our Sigma 18-250.

god bless america-2Even though we were working for Patriot Charities that afternoon, we had to play nice with the 6 other media outlets covering the ceremony. In typical Spiracle Media fashion, we helped organize the malay. We asked all the questions, helped guide the family through the home for the first time, and got to the root of the story. All our news experience seemed to pay off.

In the end, our video shows the event for what it was. It also shows the joy of receiving such a large gift.

We feel so fortunate to live in a country and community where heroes like Mullee can be appreciated. We’re also overwhelmed with the selfless contributions our business partners regularly make.

Throughout the course of a day, we make several decisions. Most of them snap judgements that need no further thought. Other times we sit and ponder what things would be like based on the selection of a particular course of action.

What will make our business click at a higher level? How can we improve the value proposition that we offer our partners? What’s the next big thing in video or social media and how do we stay ahead of it?

I have witnessed and read about the decisions of individuals that have reaped amazing results as well as those that haven’t worked out too well. One thing that I have always respected about the decision makers even in failure is that they were courageous and strong in their conviction. They owned it.

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Decisions
Own your decisions. Snap decisions are sometimes best, in fact most of the time your gut is correct. We tend to spend too much time evaluating what seem like big decisions rather than acting swiftly. Being too cautious about everything can hurt your productivity and drive you crazy.

 
Mistakes
Own your mistakes. There is nothing more frustrating than someone who doesn’t take responsibility for their own actions. As a business owner or decision maker, that’s part of the deal. With increased responsibility comes the need to make choices. Be careful with throwing others under the bus. Always protect your employees as they are the lifeblood of the operation.

Improvement
Own getting better. There should always be a sense of urgency to the way you go about things. Urgency in self-evaluation and awareness of your surroundings is imperative. The idea that things are going well does not alleviate the need for improvement. If anything, it should mean quite the opposite. Improvement means staying in a position of productivity.

Being a Fair Friend
Own being a fair friend. Friendship or mutual respect should provide the baseline for every relationship. Take time to know those around you, especially your clients. Genuine companionship will always reinforce business and come full circle. People will always remember how you treat them. Don’t give them a choice when it comes to your character.

One thing that I didn’t mention was success. I don’t want you to own it, but I want you to certainly enjoy it. There is a certain peace of mind that comes with success, but it can also present its own peril. You can easily get caught up in it and miss critical factors in the present moment. Success on the current path doesn’t lead to long-term sustainability for the majority of us. No matter how good our services or products are, tweaks and changes will be needed at some point.

When that time comes, own it.

Quality and price have always gone hand-in-hand. You can cut corners in some areas and sometimes you have to because the money just isn’t there. That’s reality.

When it comes to producing video content, there are plenty of talented freelancers and yes, even Uncle Tony has a new camera that he has been playing with. They might be a great fit for capturing an event or working on a one off project, but not for telling the story of your brand.

As a business, you need more than that. You need a team that’s going to have sufficient time to evaluate and capture the essence of what and who you are. As video continues to influence customer actions, the quality of storytelling and presentation matters. Better video has a longer shelf life and creates a stronger impact. Bringing the consistency of your messaging to video is critical.


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This isn’t our hobby, it’s what we do. I think that stigma still exists out there for many of those making the decisions. They look at video as a complete add-on rather than a necessary part of marketing. On the other hand, there are plenty of businesses that get it and we work with a number of them. YMCA of Greater Charlotte and EverFi to name a few.

We lean on a team of two for our location shoots. This isn’t done so we can add to the price, but to enhance the end product. It’s that much better with a second camera and second shooter/producer. There are plenty of things that need to be done at the office, but this is how we choose to deploy our resources.

Quality vs. SavePrice points have always been a painful topic internally, but we are confident that we fall in the sweet spot where quality of content and cost marry together. I get it. Cost matters. It matters to us when we hire a new employee or purchase new equipment. But as my pap used to say, “it only costs a nickel more to go first class.” Well, it costs a little more than that now, but the point is still the same. Saving a few hundred dollars in this case could come back to haunt you.

Spiracle Media provides experience, partnership and maximum effort on every project. That’s naturally part of the deal. It’s contained in the fabric of who we are and who we choose to be. At the end of the day, whether it’s with us or someone else, you get what you pay for and that one’s on you.

Making the transition from a life in the media to business owners was a little tricky at times. When working in television you always finished the day with a package grandin-road-artisan-package-with-bow-large-d-20121017210630467~6980923w that you could put a bow on before going home for the night. A lot of times in business you don’t get to put that bow on for weeks, if not months. While there were some growing pains in those first few months of business, we quickly realized one tenant remained in tact from our days of television, it is all about relationships.

With that in mind, early on as a company we decided to search out partners, not clients. We want companies, universities and organizations that see value in what we offer and give both sides a chance to build a relationship that makes the outcome that much stronger. Yes, the term partner evokes images of a warm, cozy working relationship and at the end of the day, that’s what we are striving for in every project we consider.

A great example of a partner relationship that has been beneficial to both sides has been our work with the YMCA of Greater Charlotte. The marketing team at the Y has such a great handle on sharing messages about the important work they do in the community, it has been a pleasure to work with them.  After spending nearly two years working on multiple video projects with their team, we feel very confident when they put a new project on the table. As Molly Thompson puts it, “it’s almost like walking down the hallway to a co-worker that already knows everything you need done and they do it well.”

Knowing that we have partners like this makes the mission of Spiracle Media that much clearer.  The definition is a person who shares or is associated with another in some action or endeavor, the YMCA and a number of our other ‘partners’ fall right in line with that.

If you are looking for a long-term relationship with a digital media provider, please take some time to contact us and let us know how we may be able to help, or let’s just get coffee.

Last month, Spiracle Media spent the day in Virginia Beach taking part in what turned out to be a really cool event spearheaded by client EverFi and enjoyed by over 800 attendees. The job included capturing Pharrell Williams and the announcement of a partnership between the singer/producer’s charity, From One Hand to AnOTHER and EverFi.

Our background in television played an important role in documenting the event as we felt right at home in the fast paced environment. After spending the morning and early afternoon shooting scene setters around the school, the next few hours were a blur following the arrival of Pharrell at his alma mater, Princess Anne High School.

And yes…we did ask for a pic.

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There have been plenty of “necessary” tools that have made their way into the process of marketing over the last few years and have coincided with the continual evolution of how people communicate online. A few of the necessary tools of yesteryear that have become essential to your online presence are your website and social media efforts. Having a clean and functional website has been a no-brainer for a long time while social media is no longer the new kid on the block.

Let’s take a moment to remind ourselves that social media doesn’t just include Facebook and Twitter. Merriam-Webster defines it as such: forms of electronic communication through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos). It’s the last point of emphasis in that definition that I want to expound upon, VIDEO.

Video is now in the necessary category when it comes to communicating with customers, employees, donors and just about anyone you’re looking to connect on a deeper level. It activates emotion and helps promote action. The days of pondering video are long gone, it’s no longer optional. Feeding the consumer’s desire for visual stimulation is at the forefront.

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Montezuma Creek, UT

Storytelling is a great way to connect the viewer to human emotion while spotlighting your brand in the process. At Spiracle Media, we know that storytelling is our bread and butter. Every member of our current staff has spent at least a decade writing, shooting, editing and telling stories. There is certainly still a need for long form pieces, but you can also tell a great story in a minute to a minute and a half. After all, attention spans are at an all-time low.

Just as critical as telling a great story is having goals going into the process. Make sure to identify the right message and map out how you plan to use the finished product. By establishing goals, you can maximize the use and shareability of what you produce. Think shelf life and the maximization of your investment.

There are plenty of options to consider when it comes to the goal and type of video. Video can be used to reach an internal or external audience. We have all seen testimonials that connect a viewer with a particular brand or experience. The storytelling piece that encourages donations or an event recap that helps to line up sponsors for next year.


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Two words of advice, start simple. Simple is usually the best method of attack. Let the story stand by itself. At the end of the day, video has a place and use for every business and brand. It’s hands down the best way to emotionally connect to an audience.

I’m sure that most marketers are consistently posing the question: what are we missing? I know that we are. It might just be the video.

A hot afternoon, hot cars, and cool guys. That sums up a recent EO Charlotte team building event in Greenville, SC. It wasn’t your grandfathers handholding and camp fire kumbaya gathering. This was a foot on the floor, heartbeat bumping, smorgasbord of skidding. It was fifth gear fun not just for the guys driving the BMWs.

The videographers had a blast too. It’s not every day we get to see successful business owners act like kids. These guys definitely were giddy sitting behind the wheel of 500 horsepower cars. The characters, speed, and beauty of the day made our jobs easy. We simply turned on our cameras, focused, and watched the wheels spin. Ok, there was a little more involved than that to produce the video you see above. This shoot had its fair share of challenges.

First, we needed to travel light. We primarily shot on one Canon 60d, a Cartoni tripod, a set of lenses, a mic pack, and one slider. We didn’t have time to set-up for shots or pre-plan for the production. We needed to think faster than the action on the track. By far, the best video came from the rain track. The glitter of the water, the reflection of the cars, and the interior action more than made up for the lack of speed on this particular part of the performance course.

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There’s one shot, where we focused on the falling drops of water while out of focus cars skid through the frame. We used our Sigma 18-250 to achieve this look. The iris was opened to it’s max, we upped the shutter speed to 2000, and powered down the ISO to 100. The scene came alive. The depth of field makes this shot. The video almost looks as though its been slowed down. Trust us, it isn’t.

In post production, we wanted to replicate the look and feel of the TV show Top Gear. A car show that is known for its cars as much as its video production value. We utilized letter boxing, vignettes, and anamorphic flares in the finished product. This is a hard line to toe.

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While this makes the video looks good, it can be too much. We didn’t want the post production work to take away from the action. Looking back, we would have liked to use our drone. How cool would it be to see the action from a birds eye view. We opted not to use it due to convenience. Our clients seemed to love the final product. We think it turned out well too. It was different than the videos we normally produce. It proved to us that we can produce hot video in multiple settings. Now it’s time to hightail it to the next project.

Equipment used: 3 GoPro Hero3 Black Edition, Canon 60D DSLR, Sigma 18-35mm, Tamron 10-24mm, Tamron 18-200mm, Kenovo slider and a Cartoni Alpha Tripod. Edited with Apple Final Cut Pro X

An excerpt from the about section of Comcast/NBC’s “The More you Know” website reads: For more than two decades, NBCUniversal’s Emmy award-winning The More You Know public service campaign has given viewers easy-to-use, concrete, manageable steps to help set realistic change in motion.

A great concept when it comes to the world of PSA’s that has certainly been impactful. You are probably thinking already where is this going. Well, I want you to apply that same concept to yourself when it comes to your role of creating content especially video. It’s time to address “The More you Know.” How much do you know that’s actually helping to spark improvement? Is your knowledge helping the company reach its goals of quality and relevancy?

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Over the past 13 years, I have been fortunate to work in broadcasting and media in various capacities. I have been a part of the digital evolution of the internet and the changing landscape when it comes to how things are created and shared. Something that’s hard to summarize when you’ve lived it.

I can look back with certainty and come to the conclusion that it has put me in the position I hold today — Co-Founder of a company that specializes in social media and video production. Our strong suit is visual storytelling, something that is supported by 11 years in television and a handful of years doing freelance video projects. Would I have guessed I would be where I am three years ago? Not at all. Did I ever plan to work in TV? Nope, but it has been an exciting journey.

When I started in television, the idea of posting stories to the internet was a new concept and that wasn’t even that long ago. When I left, whole broadcasts were available online.  Now, station websites and social channels are a source of 24/7 news and information. My first exposure to populating content to a website took place in 2003 during my first full-time job. From there, things took off in multiple directions.

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I was pretty much self-educated when it comes to shooting video after absorbing tips from a few senior photographers at the station. I will be forever be in debt to them for giving me a solid foundation when it comes to the fundamentals. I of course enjoyed writing stories and being on-air, but the job demanded much more than that.

Over the years since, I have strengthened my skills when it comes to visual composition, editing, writing, shooting and on-air delivery. Reps are a big part of growing, but you still need to critique, observe and indulge in different areas of the process. I have been a yes man most of my life and that has led to competence editing on four different editing platforms and exposed me to different types of situations. A mentor told me a long time ago, say yes and go figure it out. That might be scary, but it’s a great way to promote personal growth. Hint: it should be something you already understand a little.

You might say well you were forced to do all these different things. There is a yes and no aspect to that question. The yes is that I was forced to add different tasks and aspects to my plate. The no pertains to the fact that I didn’t have do it well and could have probably slid by just fine doing a mediocre job for the immediate future.  However if I would have ultimately settled for the status quo, I can say with confidence that I wouldn’t be in a position to lead a company that is growing in so many areas. It doesn’t make it any less challenging, but it does add a sense of peace in truly believing in what you’re doing for clients. It’s a confidence that I can carry into a conversation every time I look a client in the eye. I relish the ability to see things from a 360 degree view when it comes to video.

Staying relevant is part of the game and because I accepted the challenge of learning new things, I continued to be a valuable ingredient in somebody’s plan. I became versatile.

My goal of this blog wasn’t to share all the things I’ve done — but rather share the positive of learning multiple skills well. I am a proponent that you should specialize in one thing, but there is no reason that you can’t be really strong in other related areas. It may take time, but don’t frown on the idea of picking up something new. Having a complete view of the process is critical when it comes to being a consummate team player. You’ll also have a greater appreciation for what others are doing. It will keep your stock high within the company and add credibility when dealing with clients. Bringing a 360 degree view is immeasurable. Start working on developing yours.

 

If the image that pops into your mind when you hear the word “Pinterest” is a girl looking for wedding ideas or a middle-age woman hoping to snag scrapbooking tips, you are missing a great marketing tool — one that can work for your business through cross platform promotion.

According to a Pew Research Center Study, 15 percent of people who use the Internet also visit Pinterest.  When you consider that nearly 2.5 billion people use the Internet you begin to see the massive potential for reaching your customers through Pinterest.

While the traditional methods of advertising still have a place in your marketing plan, updating your methods of getting the word out is essential if you want to give your company brand traction and propel it forward.  In order to properly utilize Pinterest you need only take the first few steps.

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Get the Word Out

Pinterest has what they call a “goodies” page for new users. One of the things offered there is a “Follow” or “Pin It” button for you to post on your company website. Link that button to your material on Pinterest in order to let potential customers know they can find you there. You can also add the icon to your old-school promotional materials like brochures, flyers, and newspaper ads.

Take Advantage of Pinterest for Business

Pinterest knows that businesses want to be part of the growing social community and have made it easy to do so by allowing you to create a business account. There’s no fumbling in the dark to figure the site out as Pinterest walks you through the entire process, giving you tips along the way to help you connect.

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One way to link professional platforms is to use the email address associated with your company’s Twitter account when setting up a Pinterest account.  If you don’t already have a Twitter account, it’s a good idea to set it up the same time you roll out your Pinterest presence as another way to enforce cross platform promotion.

Get Faithful Customers Involved

Ask your friends and customers to help by pinning pictures of themselves holding a product associated with your business and tag you.  Once you’ve been tagged you can re-pin those photos on a VIP board.  It’s a great way to achieve cross platform promotion while also showing appreciation to your current customers.

Follow the Rules

Pinterest has an etiquette of its own. Among the things they ask of users is that you avoid self-promotion, credit sources for anything you pin, and be polite.  What Pinterest helps you do is to create an image for your business. Make it a practice to repin and “like” other content on Pinterest that you believe will benefit your community. Share pictures and videos from other boards related to your industry. What you will likely find is that as you pin things of interest, other people will begin to re-pin them, giving your company credit in the process.

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Get to Know Potential Customers

Millions of people use Pinterest as a way to organize the things they like: their favorite artists, restaurants, travel destinations, and more. Pinterest can be used as a tool for seeing inside the lives of your potential customers. Take a look at the pinners who follow your business or businesses like yours. As you learn more about the people you are marketing to you will be better able to gear your marketing efforts towards them.

In the ever-changing landscape of social media, Pinterest has become a player worth getting to know.