Now more than ever, well-produced digital videos are a necessity for effective campaign fundraising at all levels. The objectives of these videos are to introduce the candidate, show that they’re credible and viable, raise awareness of the campaign and, of course, help raise money.
But that’s often easier said than done. After years of trial and error, here are the ingredients that I believe are necessary to produce an effective campaign fundraising video:
Start with the candidate’s bio, then think about targeting.
Since the fundraising video is usually the first video a campaign produces, we include biographical information about the candidate, the candidate’s story, why the candidate is running, the issues the candidate is passionate about and, if the candidate is running against an incumbent, why that incumbent doesn’t deserve to be reelected.
Target audiences need to be kept in mind when designing the video. My firm only works with pro-labor candidates so we usually target influencers such as party leaders, elected officials, activists, labor leaders, interest group leaders and donors. The demographics of your electorate play a role here as well since you want the intro video to have messaging that also has cut through with your target group.
Eye-pleasing visuals must back up the script.
When designing the initial campaign fundraising video, my team works closely with the candidate and their campaign team. We have several meetings, usually over Zoom, to discuss ideas and concepts for the video project. The initial meeting is to hear the candidate speak about who they are, their stories, why they’re running, and the issues they’re passionate about.
I then draft a script and story board with proposed visuals to present to the candidate and campaign team. Then we review the script, shoot locations, and make changes based on input from the full team. Once the video design has been approved, the process moves to location scouting, obtaining location permissions, recruiting individuals to participate in the video, script rehearsal, and coordinating the film shoot.
Always get location permissions.
Scouting locations for a two-, three- or four-day film shoot is a major task. Including recognizable sights or attractions, cafes, shops, state or local parks, train or “L” platforms, etc. is key. Getting formal permission to shoot at your desired locations is a time-consuming process, but absolutely necessary. Failing to get formal permission can lead to a wasted production day.
In order to maximize a candidate’s time with a film crew, it requires creating an hour-by-hour detailed plan and schedule for production days. I typically plan for a 12-hour day. The candidate, campaign team, the film crew and I as the director, usually start at 8 a.m. and end around 8 p.m.
Get participants to agree to be in the video.
My firm likes to have individuals interacting with the candidate in the videos we produce. Think: families at their front door with a U.S. flag waving, labor union members, senior citizens, veterans, women, first responders, nurses, farmers, students, small business owners, Democratic elected officials, local Democratic leaders, etc. Reach out to the participants as far in advance of the shoot as possible so you aren’t scrambling to schedule time.
Rehearse the script.
It’s important the candidate practices the script extensively before the video shoot. For three full days before the shoot I work in person with the candidate on script practice. Ideally, the candidate would memorize the script word for word. If the candidate cannot memorize the whole script, my film crew simply adjusts to capture one or two sentences at a time.
Invest in editing and leave plenty of time for the process.
Editing the video and adding music, slow motion scenes, graphics, required disclaimers, subtitles, special effects, CGs, etc. is the next step. The editing process involves long hours and creativity to produce an amazing video. Once you have made it through final approvals, it’s time to launch, share and promote.
Ken Christensen, a national Democratic strategist, is the CEO of The Politics Company Inc., a Washington, DC based Democratic media, political, messaging and national fundraising consulting firm.