25 years ago most schools didn’t even have a website. Today it would be inconceivable for a school not to have one. But what is your website for? What exact role does it play?
There are two main functions. It informs present parents and students of policies and important events and it’s also there to attract prospective parents and students to the school.
Before making any contact with a school, a prospective parent will log onto a school’s website. And if they don’t like what they see, they’ll move on to another school’s site. End of! However impressive a tour of the school might be; however warm and welcoming the Head might be on the day, none of that will take place if the parent doesn’t book an appointment! And they won’t book an appointment unless they like what they see on the website. Think of it like this: The FA Cup Final might be the biggest game of all, but if you get knocked out in one of the earlier rounds, you’re not going to make it to the final!
So what needs to be on your website to attract and impress prospective parents? Certainly a ‘welcome’ from the Head. But, to be honest, it won’t count for that much. I’ve read so many of them and they all say pretty much the same thing. Pictures and images help; parents want to see happy smiling children engaged in learning and a wide range of diverse activities. But the single most powerful tool to sell your school is a short film. Whether we like it or not, we live in a world where people are increasingly used to accessing information through moving images. So if you don’t have a good video on your website and your competitors do, then they’ll be pinching your prospective students from right under your nose!
So if you’re thinking of getting a promotional video made for your school, where do you start looking? Perhaps it’s best to begin by eliminating avenues which aren’t worth pursuing. It’s a huge mistake to try and make your own. The quality of video cameras on phones and other devices is impressive; but filming and editing is a highly skilled job. A poorly made video will do more harm than good. A good promotional video is an investment and you should be prepared to pay for it. Your school deserves that. Rightly or wrongly, an amateurish video on you website will suggest that you do other things in an amateurish way. And you need to understand the laws about music copyright; you don’t want to get in trouble because you’ve used a piece of music which is copyright protected.
There are plenty of companies who make promotional videos, but a School Promotional is very specific and requires a real understanding of education. The first thing I tell schools when they approach MCN Productions is that I was a teacher for over 20 years. And that’s important. When a film crew descends on your school you need someone in charge who understands exactly how schools work and someone who can immediately identify the key educational issues which need to feature in a video.
Children, as well as teachers, start to behave differently when they see a camera. As a team, we move around discreetly and unobtrusively, making sure that when we are noticed, a sense of normality returns almost immediately. Interviewing staff and children is also a real skill. It’s important that all the interviewees are relaxed and comfortable, and feel able to express themselves clearly and honestly.
I insist that every member of my crew is not only DBS checked but has also completed a Child Protection Training course. Photographing children is a highly sensitive area and being fully aware of Child Protection issues is essential. Because my crew are so used to working in schools, they’ve developed a real sense of calm assurance as well which makes the whole experience reassuringly straightforward for any school.
Before making a video, I will always first come and look around the campus and engage in proper discussions about the ‘message’ the school wants to convey in the video. There’s absolutely no commitment at this stage. You need to meet and feel comfortable with the people who are going to come into your school and film your students.
The secret to making effective school promotional videos, is to be clear about the message from the very beginning. It’s no good producing lots of beautiful images of children smiling if the overall message isn’t clear and positive. That’s why those initial conversations are so important. We need to know exactly why we’re filming something before we switch the camera on. I ask a Head Teacher to come up with the 5 most important messages to be put across. A few clear simple messages in a video are far more effective than trying to cram in lots of vague, ambiguous ones.
If you need it, we’ll also give advice on how to deal with the issue of pupils who don’t have permission to be filmed. You may have all that under control, but a quick chat is usually helpful.
And what about length? I think a 3 minute video is long enough – possibly even too long. At MCN Productions, we never destroy the footage we’ve taken – unless you ask us to. So there are opportunities to make very brief mini-videos for social media platforms from the footage we have. And if you want to freshen up your video at any stage, then you don’t need to start filming all over again.
As well as making school promotional videos, MCN also makes feature films, so the company works at the very top end of the market and has access to the latest technology and equipment as well as top professionals. If all this makes you start to worry that MCN is going to be very expensive, you’re hopefully going to be pleasantly surprised. We work quickly and efficiently, and because our equipment is of the highest quality, it means that they can create outstanding videos speedily with very little fuss or distraction.
We don’t expect you not to look around at other companies who make school promotional videos, in fact, it’s important that you do. but do please give us a call and see whether you like what we have to offer.