Video and Organizations: The Impact of Good Storytelling

Videos can have such an impact when they are combined with compelling images and a touching story. They can make you happy, sad, or provoke you to take action on something. Great videos do most of these things. I have always been interested in charities and one thing they know how to do best is make videos. Have you ever been at home watching TV and then all of a sudden you see a commercial for abused animals or hungry children and they pull on your heartstrings and make you want to take out our checkbook. That is because the beauty and art that went into that video not only are pictures flashing before your eyes but a story telling sequence that makes what you are looking at relatable to your life in some way. Even if you were never a hungry child you want to sympathize with them and make their life better.

This week I watched a video on the CharityWater project. It was about a little girl named Rachael and how for her 9th birthday she wanted to raise money to give clean water to people in Ethiopia. She came short of her goal but wanted to keep collecting so that by her next birthday she could do it. She died in a tragic car accident a month later and her story went viral with the help of her mom. They raised 1.2 million dollars and on Rachel’s 1-year anniversary Rachel’s mother and grandparents went to Ethiopia to see what impact Rachel’s wish had on the people.

Over half a million people have seen this video since it’s posting in July. Why was this video successful? This video didn’t have many words but strong visuals mixed with a strong melody that made it moving and beautiful. It didn’t ask for a donation but instead inspired you to be like the nine-year-old girl. That is what made it successful.

Story telling is one of the greatest ways to reach out to an audience. People love to hear stories and to relate to them. Ira Glass, host of Public Radio International’s “This American Life”, has great advice on how to do storytelling in video and audio successfully. He says that your first videos are probably not going to be very good, like the CharityWater video, but that with practice and time they will get better. He says that in his job at Radio International he goes through many stories a week just to get the right one with the right feel.  All stories have a sequence of events and those sequences of events should be shown in the video or audio. Even if they may be minute details they give the story momentum and make people want to keep listening/watching.

With all this being said you don’t have to be a charity to put out a good video or story. Storytelling can be used for any organization; you can tell the story of where you have come and where you want to be and that story will make people relate to what you do. As Ira said you can’t expect to master a video at your first go, but with practice your video will make an impact.



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