Student Recruitment Video Campaign for Southeastern Louisiana University
Southeastern Louisiana University
Southeastern Louisiana University is a public college in Hammond, Louisiana. The SELU Marketing Department and College of Nursing and Health Sciences approached us to produce videos for a social media campaign that represented a realistic student life experience at SELU to bolster recruitment efforts for the 2023-2024 school year.
Launch Media produced a student-centered social media video campaign founded on the belief that current SELU students are the best ambassadors to convey authenticity and connect with potential students. We created one 3:00 brand anthem and 15 social media shareables with content that featured actual SELU students engaging in real classroom and university settings within the College of Nursing and Health Sciences.
1. Creative Development: Keepin’ it Real
Good client relationships begin with clear communication. Without establishing clarity of ideas and consistent dialogue, it’s difficult to create the sense of collaboration that is key to concepting and creative development.
Working with multiple departments at a major entity, like a university college, can present unique challenges by nature of simply coordinating with a number of busy people. However, collaboration also provides opportunities for deeper understanding of client culture and project goals. And, we were able to work with both the College of Nursing and Health Sciences and the SELU Marketing Department on this project.
The foundational concept for the campaign creative was authentic representation of student experience. The SELU teams wanted realism and straightforward messaging, which isn’t typically the foundation of brand anthems or social media videos.
So, our challenge was twofold:
- How do we convey an organic representation of an environment and an experience in a video production that is by nature curated and scripted?
- How do we capture the realism of campus life while elevating the ordinary in a way that’s exciting and compelling to the audience?
To accomplish the video goals, we knew we needed to keep it real: show real students doing real work in real time.
2. Pre-Production: Planned Authenticity
While ‘planned authenticity’ is a bit of an oxymoron, careful preparations were vital to successfully capture an authentic representation of an entire college in two days of production.
When working on a large, busy campus, whether it’s a hospital or a university, there’s many external variables to consider beyond the typical factors like lighting. We needed to know class schedules, classroom sizes, types of student work, club meetings, student demonstrations, etc. This was an ambitious shoot, so our team conducted three location scouts before finalizing the filming schedule.
Production began after the spring semester ended. So, we coordinated with summer classes and students who remained on campus to ensure that we still conveyed the bustle of the full school year. While we set the location schedules, SELU selected students for the talent.
Putting someone in front of a camera who isn’t a professional onscreen actor can be risky. In corporate video production, this risk is often a necessity to highlight important people within the company or simply to stay within budget.
Talent can make or break a video. People can be awkward, stilted, or dry, and there are many projects where we recommend professional talent to establish the right tone.
So, while professional talent might be able to emote better – to flash that perfect smile, we wanted to prioritize the integrity of the classroom experience and student interactions for this video project. Everyone shown in this video campaign is a real student from within the College of Nursing and Health Sciences.
As the viewer watches the current students in their natural habitats, we prompt the questions: Can you see yourself in the people represented here? Is SELU the place for you?
3. Production: Practical Effects
When you have a brand anthem, you want people to feel excited and you want pretty imagery. But sometimes that isn’t indicative of a client’s day to day. Not every company has something overtly personal or sexy to captivate audience interest at the outset. Our job is to uncover that compelling narrative, regardless of the subject matter.
Brand anthems traditionally lean on emotional tropes to create audience investment, so our aim was to elevate the realism in an exciting way.
So we consider our audience: potential students at SELU, mostly young people on the cusp of stepping out into a new, adult chapter.
How do we transform the ordinary student life experience on a college campus into a visually compelling narrative? How do we create the cool factor?
We began with some foundational production approaches: Shoot pretty scenes. Pull in natural light. Find spots of color and interest. Showcase dynamic students. Let them display what they enjoy about their experience and speak to it directly and candidly.
But, we wanted to get innovative with our practical effects.
Practical Effects: Elevating the Ordinary
In video production, practical effects refer to the use of physical, real world elements and techniques to create visual or environmental effects on set. This could be as dramatic as pyrotechnics and prosthetic makeup or as straightforward as lighting changes.
Like AR or VFX, practical effects intensify a visual story, but they also provide a sense of realism, maintaining authenticity while enhancing the overall impact of the production.
Practical effects drove the creative direction for this video. We played with lighting changes to evoke a suspended reality where the main talent (the student) steps forward from the bustle of the scene and speaks directly to the audience.
With a little staging and lighting adjustments, our production team joined classes and student spaces, positioning ourselves to make the viewer feel like a fly on the wall.
This worked particularly well in the nursing scene where we visited an actual class in progress. We kept a practical approach and were able to capture a moment of class with very little staging. And, the final result feels organic – because it is.
4. Post-Production: Nerding Out With Motion Graphics
Though we worked specifically with the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, this campaign needed to adhere to university brand standards and to produce a visual continuity with other SELU videos.
But, it also needed a sense of originality.
With the graphics and animation, we were also able to create something unique by bringing certain design elements into the forefront.
Throughout the shareables, the viewer will notice the conical graphic, which is typically a background element. We transformed what is normally a secondary design element into a primary feature to create movement and make the frame more interesting.
This approach was simple, yet effective. And, it allows for a balanced visual that both fits in and stands out.
All of the social media shareables were designed to be shot at a 9:16 ratio.
Stand Alone Videos vs. Video Campaigns
Stand alone videos, especially brand anthems, often live on a website and typically have a shelf life of at least 6 months. While stand alone videos may nod to an ongoing communications campaign, their content and overall message is usually more evergreen.
By nature, campaign videos have a shorter shelf life in terms of viewership and message applicability. While the content in these videos can sometimes be repurposed, that’s not always the case. So, the way we approach creative production for a video campaign is a bit different than a stand alone video, like a brand anthem or a company highlight. Here’s a few things to keep in mind.
Emphasize the Call to Action
Campaign videos must have a pointed, direct call to action and continuously guide that viewer toward the action sooner; whereas a stand alone video has a bit more flexibility to entertain, to educate, and to reinforce. A video campaign must execute all of these things too, AND incite more immediate action.
Establish Visual Continuity
Campaign videos also need a sense of visual continuity, and that can work in many ways.
Because a campaign typically follows some sort of brand standards, motion graphics and animated elements provide an avenue of overt visual familiarity and call back to a brand or business.
For a more subtle approach, employing a particular style of cinematography allows the production team to bake a certain feeling, tone, and sense of familiarity within each video to tie them together.
Writing also plays a role. In the visual story of a campaign, audio is an important and distinct stylized component. With script writing or with voice actors, this is another avenue to craft a sense of unity.
Create Narrative Life
Campaign videos follow a different narrative life than stand-alone videos. Over the course of the campaign, we need to spark interest, maintain attention, and build momentum.
Teaser campaigns or trickle campaigns are extremely popular because they are effective. They are great tools to create narrative life by highlighting different perspectives of the campaign message and adding layers to the visual story of a campaign. It’s all about timing and sharing just enough at the right moment.