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Ideas for Producing Videos that Find Homes for Homeless Pets

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Are your online videos as effective as they could be? YouTube videos have become a standard on many websites, blogs and Facebook pages. Many could be much more effective in spreading awareness, generating funds, and attracting volunteers. Here are some ideas for making the most of your videos to help homeless pets at your shelter or rescue.

You can learn a lot about video production by watching professionals’ videos. Start noticing videos that work and bookmark them. The Cloud Foundation, under the direction of Ginger Kathrens, has produced some incredible videos documenting the plight of wild horses in the Western US. Her YouTube channel has over twenty videos which make you want to watch more. Kathrens is an Emmy Award-winning producer, cinematographer, writer and editor. She filmed and produced the acclaimed Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies and Cloud’s Legacy: The Wild Stallion Returns for WNET’s Nature series on PBS plus many more documentaries for PBS, National Geographic, Animal Planet, and the BBC.

See the CloudFoundation’s YouTube Channel. Notice her to the point explanations, videos of the specific horses she’s showcasing in beautiful mountain scenery, and her use of statistics. Her YouTube Channel tells an ongoing story of the roundup status of wild horses in the West, BLM legislation and federal appointments to relevant agencies. She explains how to take action and stay informed on these issues. You can learn all you need to know about the wild horse roundups on BLM land by watching her videos. Did you know the BLM is using low flying helicopters to round up these horses and then forcing them into extremely cramped pens for months and even years when they’re surrounded by thousands of acres of open land? Her videos tell the story.

Another good way to learn how to put together a good video is by watching TV news videos. Some are much better than others, of course, but they often answer who, what, where, when, why of news reporting. If your shelter or rescue is featured on such a video, be sure they include information on how to donate and/or help at the end. This is often left off.

A good example of a TV news video is Madeleine Pickens’ Battle to Save Nevada’s Wild Horses featured on a Las Vegas, NV local news story.

Get to the point. Many videos are too slow to get to the point and may lose viewers before they do. Think about newspaper headlines’ approach in presenting the main point in just a few words and then telling the story. I see lots of videos using the fade in / fade out technique with written copy. This can be effective but if there are too many frames of copy presented very slowly, your viewers may stop watching.

Provide statistics. Refer to the blog post Using Statistics to Help Homeless Pets for ideas on using statistics about homeless pets in your community. Many animal lovers are totally unaware of the number of pets euthanized in their communities, the number of pets abandoned through foreclosure, etc. Use statistics to educate.

Tell a story. Watch A Homeless Pet’s Holiday Dream from Animal Humane New Mexico to understand homelessness and the joy of finding a forever home from a dog’s perspective.

Keep it short. If I click on a video and see that it’s 12 or 15 minutes long, rarely do I watch it unless I’m extremely interested in that subject. Try to stay on a narrow topic for each video and make several videos if you want to cover many points.

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