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Advertorial feature: 10 tips for your next college promotional video

December 18, 2015

10 tips for your next college promotional video: Don’t just tell prospective students why they should choose you. Show them.

Is your college marketing where your audience is?

Further Education marketers looking to target Generation Z (under 20s) are alienating prospective students if they don’t incorporate video as a core part of their marketing mix.

This generation prefer visual communications, expect high quality as standard and name their favourite website as YouTube; 93% visit the site at least once per week, while 54% use it multiple times every single day[1].

With video expected to account for over 69% of all consumer web traffic in 2017[2], get ready now by ensuring your next college promotional video maximises impact and gets results, using these top tips from the education sector’s video experts at Clearhead.

Click here to see the tips in action in Clearhead’s brand new educational showreel (

  1. Begin with the end in mind

1. Begin with the end in mindWhat strategic objective do you want to achieve through creating a video? This could be as simple as challenging outdated perceptions of your college, raising awareness of your facilities or celebrating a significant occasion. Identify who you will be targeting with this content, then decide what you want them to think and how you want them to feel as a result of watching it.

  1. Consider distribution options and attention spans

Videos can be shown at student recruitment events and school assemblies, at open days and on your website, to name but a few options. Although the same video can be published across a number of channels, the end use will shape a lot of its characteristics. For example, if your video will typically be shown with the volume turned off (e.g. in a waiting area or as part of an exhibition stand), then voiceovers and interviews should be avoided. If it’s an overall introduction to your college aimed at 15 year-olds who are comparing a handful of colleges online, then it will need to start strong, maintain momentum and get a compelling message across within a maximum of three minutes.

  1. Make it unique

It’s fine to replicate specific elements of style and content from videos of other colleges that you admire, but avoid a wholesale ‘me too’ approach. After all, what works for others won’t necessarily be as successful for you, and implies a lack of individuality and creativity. Instead, identify what is unique and special about your college and build the video around that. Your brand guidelines may not have been written with this format in mind, but the look/feel and tone of voice sections will provide essential guidance to ensure your video stays on-brand and sits well alongside your other marcomms.

  1. Keep focused

If you try to make a single piece of content communicate effectively about all aspects of your college with all audiences, you will end up saying nothing much at all. Select just one or two things that are aligned with your chosen strategic objective, such as the successful career progression of your students, or the hands-on nature of vocational qualifications, for example, and focus on communicating these exceptionally well.

  1. Tell a story

5. Tell a story copyBack-to-back scenes of students in classrooms will result in a dull and undifferentiated video. Instead, make the whole greater than the sum of its parts by introducing a narrative which builds up towards a satisfying conclusion or finish so that the viewer is rewarded for their time. This could be as simple as ‘a day in the life of…’, with subtly changing light implying the transition of sunrise to sunset, or by following the stories of a group of friends who are studying different courses, finishing with them celebrating their results and progression pathways together.

  1. Be a diva about your locations and your lighting

6. Be a diva about your locations and your lighting copyUse your very best rooms and resources as a backdrop for your video, making sure they are clean, tidy and in perfect condition on the day of the shoot. You may need to move equipment or even time the shoot for an academic holiday to make sure you can get access to the best rooms, but the hassle will be paid back in dividends with the final result. Experienced lighting experts can make the sun shine into your classrooms on the dullest day, flatter your staff and students by making their skin radiant, and add bags of atmosphere that helps to reinforce the emotive elements of your video, so do take professional advice. Otherwise, you’ll risk unsightly shadows from overly harsh lighting or dull, flat lighting that kills any sense of emotion and atmosphere.

  1. Use the best lens you can afford

The indescribable quality of out-of-focus points of light – called ‘bokeh’ in the film and photographic industries – is just one of several elements which is completely dependant on the quality of the lens used. Non-professionals often can’t identify why they prefer better quality footage, but they do pick up on the difference subconsciously. Every video is limited by the quality of glass it was shot through, so skimp on kit and you’ll get video that screams ‘cheap’ and ‘amateur’ – probably not the first impression you were hoping for!

  1. Maintain momentum

Videos are moving visuals, so keep your subject and/or your camera moving at all times. Continuously revealing more of a scene helps to maintain a sense of progression, increasing the chance that viewers will stay interested and pay attention right to the end. Pace your scenes so they feel balanced – if one scene is much longer or shorter than the rest, it will feel out of place.

  1. Use motion graphics to add detail

Motion graphics enable text and illustration to be overlaid into a scene in a visual, fluid and dynamic way. They can help to aid understanding and

bring things to life that are more difficult to capture in film (for example, the contents of a book a student is looking at or the inner workings of an engine that a student is adjusting).

  1. Finish with a call to action

What do you want people to do once they’ve seen your video? Examples are to register for or attend an open day, subscribe to your social media channels or even just leave a comment. Use a final message at the end of your video to incite action, ensuring that it ties back to the strategic objective identified in step 1 and 4.

Click here to see the tips in action in Clearhead’s brand new educational showreel (

Are you planning any video for your college in 2015-16?

Clearhead are the experts in creating world-class, cinematic promotional videos for colleges and universities. Call 01582 410 892 or email to ask any questions about the process and find out how Clearhead can help you.

The clear choice is Clearhead.

[1] Media consumption statistics taken from a 2015 report published by Sparks & Honey

[2] Cisco visual networking index: forecast and methodology, 20014-19 White Paper


Please note this feature does not constitute endorsement or recommendation of this company by the College Marketing Network.

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