1. Top tips: how to keep your story gathering going

    We seem to have settled into a series of practical posts for how to cope with the Covid-19 crisis. After the foundation posts of tips for working from home and resources for home-schooling, we turn to your storytelling, which let’s face it is probably why most of you follow us!

    You may be feeling overwhelmed right now, wondering how you’re going to meet your content needs while unable to get out and about to meet your storytellers. Some of you may be working at organisations on the frontline of the Covid-19 response, while those of you who aren’t could be wondering how to keep your news feeds fresh during this time. Don’t be shy about sharing your stories, even if they are are not Covid-19-focussed.

    Here are our tips for storytelling during lockdown and social distancing.

    Resurrect old stories

    We have written before about making your existing footage work harder. The chances are you have hours of unseen footage sitting around on hard drives. Dust off all those great ‘nearly made it but we had to keep the film to under a minute’ soundbites to create new content – their time has come to shine. Reshare old stories in a #FromtheArchives series– it’s unlikely that everyone who follows you saw this content first time round.

    Get creative with B Roll

    You don’t need a storyteller to make a great film. The film we made for Chestnut Tree House’s 15th anniversary was made entirely from B Roll we and others had previously shot. You don’t even need to have your own footage – you could use budget you had set aside for shoots to purchase B Roll from libraries and then craft your story with the supers. This works particularly well for charities where their story can be told using generic B Roll of things like city streets, landscapes or animals.

    Remote story gathering

    Nothing beats being in the same room as the person you’re interviewing but right now that’s just not possible so use tech to your advantage. Phone interviews are fine, but using Skype and Zoom means you get to see each other’s faces which helps build rapport and the record functions mean you can concentrate on the interview rather than taking notes. The recordings are also saved as high quality MP4s so if you get the location right for your video calls you can edit these recordings into short films.

    Scale up your user generated content

    Think about what content your service users and staff can produce for you. It may be a little less slick than if you or a professional were filming it, but that’s fine –now more than ever people are making allowances for camera wobble – just look at this film The Guardian used from a worker preparing the pop up hospital at Excel. And you can always get user generated content professionally edited; we are about to start editing weekly films for a client who are getting supporters to capture stories from their communities.

    Explore Podcasting

    A few weeks ago we talked about the growing popularity of podcasting. Now would be the perfect time to explore this. It can be really hard to find the time to try new things when we have our noses to the grindstone doing ‘business as usual’. There is very little business as usual at the moment so why not use the technology we’re all getting to grips with to record some podcasts?

    Photo stories

    More and more people think about film first when approaching their storytelling but don’t overlook the power of a single image to tell a great story. Whether you use it to illustrate a key message or to tell a short story about the person in the picture, one image can do a lot of heavy lifting. Now’s the time to mine your photo library and get creative with your captions.

    If you need us to support you with any of the things we talk about above, get in touch. Over the coming weeks we will also be developing some online training resources to help you develop new skills and brief your storytellers on how to gather great content so watch this space.

    To keep up to date with all our top tips and guest posts on our weekly blog you can subscribe here.

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