Are your college and university promotional films authentic?

There are times when we want films to lie to us: to give us a happy ending or mislead us with a cunning twist. However, when deciding what college and university to go to, prospective students tell us they want providers to keep things authentic.

The truth doesn’t have to be tedious and your college and university’s promotional video can still be filled with great, inspirational content. But think twice before abandoning authenticity in favour of outright fantasy. If you’re putting together a new promo video for your college and university, you might want to consider the following points before you start shooting.

Authentic places

Keeping your college and university promotional video authentic can mean many things. Using real people, telling real stories and setting it in a real and easy to identify environment. It’s a good idea to consult with a professional production team when choosing locations for your promotional film. Professionals will be able to help plan the technical aspects of your shoot. Remember that only you can provide the insights necessary to identify the most noteworthy settings in your college and university.

Authentic activities

Focusing on pleasant environments, where potential students are likely to attend open events, can help continue the engagement you secure with your rich media content. It helps promote a sense of continuity from video to personal experience. Use an environment that matches the activity in your action shots. Use activities that actually take place in real classes at your college and university.

Authentic people

Use genuine students who tell their own stories truthfully, rather than actors reading from an approved script. Allow your case study subjects to be themselves. Let them dress as they usually would, and let them communicate in the way they do every day. Potential students relate better to people who express themselves using their language.

Our case studies for Northampton College featured real-life student stories:

Authentic interviews

Good case study interviews come from effective interviewing techniques. Make the interview more like a friendly conversation. Choose a comfortable and appropriate environment for the conversation. Maintain privacy throughout and ask open questions that invite honest answers.

Keep pre-shoot briefings to the point and do not coach your subjects to repeat your approved messages. Soundbites might seem like a good idea, but making them seem genuine on camera is a hard task even for the professionals. Remember that though some subjects might give negative feedback, as well as positive, you will ultimately have control over what gets used in your final edit. It can be more powerful to include criticisms, when you can show how your organisation has improved.

Honesty is the best policy

Establishing your credentials as a trusted provider should always be at the centre of your strategy. The best way to do this is to show your college and university as it is and to emphasise the strengths you can evidence. Pretending to be something you’re not can cause problems down the line. Your videos should aim to build realistic expectations as much as possible. Overpromising in a promo film can be just as problematic as writing misleading course outlines in your prospectus. When it comes to student retention it helps to be clear what you are offering from the start.

Respect and recognition

The pitfalls of underestimating your audience are numerous. Always treat your viewers with the respect they deserve. Stock images and footage are easy to spot and will stand out more for not being unique to your organisation.

Your case studies should also represent the broad mix of students who attend your college and university. Choosing only the most photogenic students might seem like a good idea, but could undermine your credibility with your audience. Strive to reflect the diversity of your community and concentrate on getting good stories over good looks.

Harness authentic film-making for your college or university

Clearhead make authentic promotional films for colleges and universities. Email sarah@weareclearhead.com for more information or to discuss your project.