Ditch the Flip Cam: Rethinking the DIY Approach to Higher Ed Multimedia

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“It doesn’t matter if it’s not great quality. Just get a Flip camera and start shooting.”

I wasn’t all too comfortable with this philosophy a few years ago when I started hearing it. I’m definitely not comfortable with it anymore.

Because prospect expectations are dramatically increasing. Look at the most popular amateur YouTube
channels. They’re all shot in HD. You know why you mock every local TV commercial that comes on the
air? Because they’re not. Well that, and they’re full of crazy old men yelling about 0.9% car financing
specials with exploding starbursts.

But, that’s the point. Bad is laughable. And sometimes we excuse our bad video as ‘authentic’. But at
what point does it become ‘authentically bad’? At what point is trying, and doing something poorly,
actually a detriment to your brand? Worse than doing nothing?

Because we’re under constant pressure (perhaps from ourselves) to be doing everything. Having our
school’s presence everywhere.

But, perhaps we shouldn’t be doing stuff we’re not committed to doing great?

If you’re not committed to doing video great, don’t buy a camera. If you’re not committed to doing
Pinterest great, don’t open the account. If your grad assistant is in charge of your Facebook page, but
isn’t empowered to take action on complaints you receive, don’t be there.

Discuss opportunities with your team. Determine the talents and availability in your office that match
these opportunities. Decide what you’re going to do great. And be great at it.


About the Author

Eric Olsen is the Web Content Manager for Lewis University, a mid-sized Catholic and Lasallian
University near Chicago, IL. Follow Eric on Twitter.

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  • http://twitter.com/tsand Todd Sanders

    Story quality > camera quality. I’d take a great storyboard over a great camera any day. Just sayin.

  • http://twitter.com/dwendt dwendt

    Wish I could remember the source, but heard a discussion of a recent study that says students prefer sites with a mix of “high-quality” and “lower quality” multimedia.  Seems only high-level video etc. pointed to a sense that the institution is being buffed out and “made shiny” by professionals, and having only low-quality video etc. indicates, well, a lower-quality institution.  But showcasing a wider range of items shows a willingness to highlight a diverse range of voices and viewpoints, on top of delivering the higher-level goods.

    At the end of the day, polish your institution’s brand with high-quality work, but don’t be afraid to show off the stuff that may be a little more grass-roots.

    • http://twitter.com/eolsencreative Eric Olsen

      Dawn, I think your point might answers Todd’s. I’ve seen that study, too, and while this is only conjecture, it’s likely the “high-quality” videos are the broad, high-level admission pitches (Why “Institution”? videos). Whereas the “low-quality” multimedia are more powerful and more personal student stories. But having to choose between a great story and great aesthetic is probably a false dichotomy in 2012.