You may have noticed a theme on our blog over the last few months as we’ve talked a lot about planning. We’ve aimed to provide some thought-provoking pieces on why charities need to allow themselves time to plan their storytelling needs. Hopefully we’ve also given you some useful tips along the way.
It’s not that we’re particularly fond of spreadsheets and databases, we’d much rather be in a hammock too! But we want you to have successful campaigns, and films that have impact and meaning. We love helping you reach your target audiences, and we don’t want to have to turn you away as our diaries are too full.
So, some food for thought on how to maximise the rest of the summer….
It’s all in the timing
As a rule of thumb, it takes a minimum of six to eight weeks from initial meetings through to the end of the production period. If you have longer, then it’s great to have the ‘wriggle room’ so start earlier if you can. Shoots can get postponed due to illness or weather. Although we did still make it down to Devon this year during a storm and severe weather warning!
We’ll cover all the stages that make up this production period including feedback and sign-off in one of our Top Tip blogs later in the year, sign up now to ensure you don’t miss it.
The summer is a good time to take stock. August can be a quiet month with decision-makers being away and offers an opportunity to review your story bank and look at what stories may need retiring or updating.
Start looking at what you’ve got, and planning what you’ll need for the busy months ahead. Use this time to think about what staff training and development is needed, and start to book it in. People will be enthusiastic about this in September and October but come November it will feel like something they haven’t got time for.
If you have an April – April financial year, you’ll be halfway through at the end of September and it’s unlikely you’ll have spent half the money. Use August to begin planning what you need to spend your money on in the last half of the year. This way you’re not in a hurry to ‘use it or lose it’ when you’re in the last quarter. For those who are on a calendar year budget you’re even closer to the end of the spending cycle, so it’s even more important to take stock now or December really will be a panic.
There you go, I’ve said it! It’s the 25th of December every year and so if you want Christmas appeal films or fundraising films you need to be thinking about them now! Most appeals launch during November, and so you really need to hit the ground running in September with a view to filming during October.
Don’t forget the cluster of awareness days and weeks in November and December which can often be forgotten in the Christmas planning rush. You may want to use them as an opportunity to talk about your work with a short social media film, or to launch your own campaign.
If you have a sporting event next year, e.g. the London marathon, you need to recruit participants. Don’t leave it until the winter months to film a promotional film as all your footage will show the cold, grey winter conditions. Sure, you need some of that, but you also need some summer or autumn colour in there to make it inspirational. We’re not miracle workers, if we film on a cold, dark day in November it won’t look like spring.
Party conference season is around the corner. If you’re taking staff, volunteers or service users on the conference circuit, use August to think about what content you need for this time. Train speakers in powerful verbal storytelling. Get the short films and stories you need for social media, plus the anecdotes your speakers can drop into speeches and networking chat lined up.
Don’t forget we’re here to help. We facilitate a free community of story and communication specialists called The Story Network and we can provide consultancy services to your organisation.
You’ll also find lots of useful information on the Charity Comms website including this Comms planner template.