Reaching for a Fundraising Goal Through Custom Video Production

video production about homelessness

Each year we produce a custom video for the local United Way to ultimately communicate “the need” and help raise money for the annual fundraising campaign.

We had some solid ideas on the table for this year’s video, but through completely open communication with our client and within our team, we agreed that our first idea wasn’t going to achieve the main goals of the United Way:  to make people aware of the growing need in the area, and to help compel people to give financially. After talking with the leaders at the local United Way, we decided it was the right time to focus in on the issue of homelessness. And while this is just one area where the United Way concentrates it resources, it felt like the right story to tell at the right time.

Ultimately, we wanted to hand the United Way a DVD that quickly and effectively explained a complex topic. And through creative video production, that story was told.

Here’s why we think this video works:

1) It’s real.

There are tears, there are honest opinions, there is genuine concern. These elements were captured on video through interviews. Many times we will capture 20 minutes of an interview and maybe use only 45 seconds in the final video. Spending lots of time with people and getting to know the real story about their cause, organization, company or school is the key to a memorable custom video production.

2) It’s validated.

We talked to many people who deal directly with the homeless population every day. Each person had a personal story to tell, but the common thread was that every person debunked popular misconceptions. The people who appear in the video are mostly recognized leaders in the field and come across as very natural and believable. Not everyone in a video has to be a known commodity. Sometimes the most compelling parts of a video come from the most unlikely of people. But, as we have come to find out in our time of interviewing countless people, everyone has a story. How that story translates into the camera comes from making a person feel comfortable while being interviewed.

3) It’s raw.

Within the first minute of the video, the biggest misconception about homelessness is addressed head-on. You see where some portions of the homeless population live while trying to get back on their feet. You hear straight-forward talk about how homelessness doesn’t discriminate. As for the style, the video was shot to match the content of the interviews. We felt the high definition video needed to be captured in a way that felt as though the viewer was behind the camera with their own eyes.

4) It’s local.

When the topic is related directly to where you live, it literally hits home. We shot video of recognizable landmarks and not necessarily in the same ways they have been seen before. Using unique camera angles and motion graphics can contribute greatly to the overall emotion of a video.

5) It’s emotional.

Ultimately, a video is effective if it raises your emotions. A video without emotion is rarely memorable and doesn’t make anyone want to take the next step. Through interviews, footage, music and motion graphics, this video comes together to tell the tough story of homelessness.

Every fundraising effort is unique, and every goal is different. What doesn’t change is the need to effectively and emotionally communicate your cause in a short amount of time. To find out more about how we can help you, click here.

Five Stars for Corporate Training Videos

training videos for restaurants

Muriale’s Italian Restaurant is a family tradition in North Central West Virginia.  For years, Muriale’s has been known for great food, service, and atmosphere.  The history of this establishment is an American story: a story of how hard work, dedication, a focus on customer service, and a commitment to excellence can lead to success.  Today, owner/operator Rocco Muriale continues the tradition by practicing these core values on a daily basis and passing his beliefs and values on to his staff.

Rocco Muriale is certainly an effective communicator and leader.  So how could a video possibly help such an established and effective restaurant owner?

Rocco (Muriale’s Owner) will tell you that, done right, mentoring takes time.  It’s hard work, and there’s no way around that.  However, if new or potential employees can sit down, watch a training video, and through that video get a feel for the rich history of the establishment, witness the synergy between staff members, see the respect they have for their manager and the system in which they work, and learn exactly what it means to be part the company, then in a very short amount of time, you’ve started everything off on the right foot.  You’ve set the tone, set expectations, and laid a solid foundation for the future.  You’ve clearly stated how things are going to be at this place of business. You also generate a sense of pride among existing staff members, motivate new employees, and maybe even make them want to be part of the team.

Granted, that’s a lot to accomplish in a short video, but we had a plan. For years we had worked with Rocco to communicate his message through TV commercials, web design, and print on many occasions, and we knew about his beaming personality.  So when the idea of creating a training video surfaced, we knew exactly what to do… get Rocco on camera.  We interviewed Rocco and his senior staff and formulated a short story–the story of Muriale’s.  The interviews were the first step and served as the foundation for the video.  The interviews were shot on location at Muriale’s, where we used HD video and special lighting techniques to compliment the atmosphere of the restaurant.  We then included custom video graphics to finalize the piece.  All of these ingredeints: the interviews, the lighting, the beautiful footage, and the graphics, helped communicate the tradition and excellence of Muriale’s Restaurant.

Five Questions Clients Ask About Promotional Video Production

Promotional video production can be an overwhelming experience for someone who’s not familiar with the process. Take a deep breath; while producing a commercial may seem overwhelming at first, it can actually be a very enjoyable experience. Like most things in life, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. To try and help build your confidence, here are the five most frequent questions we hear from clients:


Producing a commercial can range anywhere from hundreds of dollars to over a million dollars. Both of those numbers are obviously extremes. Let’s use a car analogy here, would you like to buy the Tato Nano (the world’s cheapest car) or the Lamborghini Reventon (the world’s most expensive car)?


We’ve found the best way to determine a budget is to show a variety of examples of our work in creative video services. From those examples a client will usually find one that he or she can say, “That’s what I like and that’s what I can afford.”


I was raised in a grocery store. One of my early lessons learned was that you cannot put five pounds of onions in a three pound bag. Translation: keep it simple. The reality is that a viewer will take only one message from your commercial. Don’t overload your bag, uh, commercial.


As a college freshman I received an A+ on my first speech of the semester. It was a funny speech and I don’t remember the topic, but I do remember my professor’s note that came with the grade. He wrote, “Comedy is like love, fleeting in the beginning and volatile in the end.” In short, you might be funny once, but it’s hard to continually be funny. You should approach being funny with the same level of care used by a tightrope walker. It’s hard to do, but if you pull it off you’ve done something very special.


A spokesperson can legitimize your business and bring credibility. A spokesperson can also hurt your business. Sound confusing? Much like humor, a spokesperson’s effectiveness can go either way. The number of business owners who can serve as their own spokesperson is a much smaller number than those who think they can perform the role. Just because you sleep in a garage doesn’t make you a car, and just because you own a car dealership doesn’t make you a car spokesperson. We’ve all see painful examples of well-intentioned dealers pitching their products. It doesn’t work.

Here’s an example of a restaurant owner we know who does a wonderful job of serving as his restaurant’s spokesperson. It works because he’s honest, he’s passionate, and he’s totally unscripted.


The average production time can last anywhere from days to weeks. Depending on the level of complexity and number of different locations, a commercial can normally be produced and ready for use in three to six weeks.

These are just a few of the questions that we receive when meeting or speaking with clients. If you have questions about our digital video production company and how we can help you, please feel free to contact us.

Creative Video for Online Consumption

increase business with online video

Come into the light and be found.

If you’re not creating video for your corporate website or for online consumption and applications, then you’re missing out on a digital revolution. The explosion of the digital storytelling age is where the interactive/online and traditional broadcast mediums merge into a dynamic, immersive, and inbound world where the customer finds you. That’s right…the customer finds you.

And when the customer finds you, what will they get? Hopefully, they get something engaging that will make an impression and give them the information they need to make decisions. Studies are showing that the best way to do this is with creative video. With creative video you can make your point in a short amount of time. You can think about what you want to communicate, get your thoughts together, and give Internet users the information they need quickly and easily. You can further establish your brand, exhibit your personality, and effectively make your point. And once you get a rhythm going, you can keep them engaged and informed with more video content. As Tobi Elkin, of eMarketer put it, “Creating an online video presence helps marketers facilitate an ongoing dialogue with consumers, boost brand equity, lure prospective customers and solidify support among brand loyalists.”

People are using the Internet to make decisions, and who wants to read when you can sit back and watch a great video and quickly get the information needed? Given the choice between watching a video that communicates a message well or having to read through an extensive document, article, or technical data, most people will choose the video. I’m not even sure why I wrote this article… where’s our lights and camera?

A competitive edge.

You already know the impact that the Internet and social media has had on our economy and culture in recent years, but complimenting that power with digital video is growing just as fast. In a recent article on, Paul Verna points out that customers are increasingly consuming more and more online video and that custom video production is becoming more important for driving sales. also predicts that by 2014, the number of US online video viewers will represent 77% of internet users. In short, the advertising and marketing world has shifted and online creative video is the new weapon of choice. Retailers and other businesses and organizations are now increasing the amount of money they spend on online video content as opposed to more other mediums and they finding increase ROI as a result.

So, are you ready to join the digital storytelling revolution?

Good. Here’s what you’ll need to consider:

Creative Strategy.

This means that you evaluate your situation, consider how creative video can work for you, and develop a plan for producing and implementing your new marketing tool.

Creative Ideas.

It’s not about a template, or even polished video with amazing visual effects and graphics. It’s about a complete, well-planned and well-orchestrated work of art that completely expresses the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs an organization or business. And it’s not about being flashy, edgy, or even beautiful. Just because something is beautiful doesn’t mean it’s good. After all, it’s what’s in the inside that really counts, right? When you get down to it, effective communication is about compelling, engaging, and real stories. You need an idea. You need to cut through the clutter and communicate a clear and concise message. As you know, Internet users have short attention spans. It’s important to get their attention and keep it.

Creative Video Production.

Production is about fulfilling the ideas formulated in the previous step. This requires talented and experience professionals that know how to visually represent and produce products that will work. In some cases, production can be accomplished in-house and without a professional studio. You have to consider whether or not you have the time and ability to accomplish what’s needed. And, of course, your budget is a big concern.

Creative Execution.

Once you have the plan, the idea, and the creative video(s), you must stay the course, stick to your guns, and execute, execute, execute. This can be challenging for most businesses… especially small business… because it’s just one more thing, right? You may say, “This all sounds great, but I don’t have time for this!” Relax. In most cases it makes sense to partner with a reliable professional that can help generate the content and provide guidance.

If you would like to learn more, please contact us for a free, no-obligation discussion of your video and marketing needs…

Custom Video Production for Legal Commercials

legal video production

Four Keys to Successful Legal Commercials

I’m not an attorney and I’ve never played one on TV, but I’ve seen lots of them pitching their firm in television commercials. I can tell you for sure that most of the time I don’t like what I see. It makes me uncomfortable, like the time Roseanne Barr sang the national anthem. I have nothing against lawyers, in fact a large percentage of my closest friends are lawyers. However, being a lawyer and being a television spokesperson for your law firm are two very different things.

Just because you’re a lawyer doesn’t make you the best spokesperson for the firm. Ryan Seacrest of American Idol fame is a silky-smooth host who is wonderful in front of a camera. However, I wouldn’t want Ryan Seacrest making the closing argument in my defense at a murder trial. You get the picture. We all have our strengths and our limitations.

Over the years, we’ve worked with lawyers in various areas of custom video production and have come up with four key elements to successful legal commercials:

  1. Credibility: The lawyer or firm must be able to communicate a genuine, personal honesty and passion to help those who have been wronged.
  2. A Story is Told: The “story” could profile the attorney and his motivation to serve clients or detail a specific client’s case that led to a positive resolution.
  3. High Quality Video Production: The look and “feel” of a commercial non-verbally communicates so many different messages to a viewer. Pristine video is the product of detailed planning, professionally coordinated lighting, shot composition, and color correction. Nothing good comes easy and that holds true in video production. If you spend 30 minutes taping a commercial, you’ll get a commercial that looks like it took 30 minutes to produce.
  4. Call to Action: A successful legal commercial must include a client offer or direction to obtain more information. It may be as simple as a website address or it could be a specific product-related offering which provides value to the potential client.

Here’s an example of how we combined these elements for attorney Brian Prim. A large percentage of Brian’s cases deal with victims suffering from the fatal disease of Mesothelioma. There are a number of national firms who solicit cases involving Mesothelioma. Their shotgun approach can be termed impersonal and corporate. Prim’s approach is completely opposite; he builds relationships and becomes an advocate for the victims and their families. Those relationships last long after a settlement has been reached or a verdict returned.

Rather than forcing Brian to deliver scripted comments, we conducted a long form interview that allowed him to be totally natural and confident as he addressed his passion of caring for victims of Mesothelioma. The result is a commercial that contains all four keys mentioned above, and one that directly led to an increase in the number of Mesothelioma cases at Prim Law.

You’ve seen our four keys to successful legal commercials; do you have any others that you think are essential? Let us know.

Can Custom Video Production Promote Clear Skin?

dermatologist - video production - commercial - local business

Yes… By telling a great story with professional custom video production. It’s sounds like a simple idea, but it’s an often overlooked method of communication. Gimmicks, trickery, pointing fingers, and even deception are common practices in the field of advertising. But people aren’t stupid and they know when something isn’t real. Most people have resorted to recording TV shows and skipping the commercials, mostly because they are tired of seeing the local garbage that is communicated. They’re tired of getting some silly jingle stuck in their heads. That stuff doesn’t work anymore. “Real” works in advertising. The truth works.

Recently, we had the great pleasure to work with the folks at Appalachian Spring Dermatology in Fairmont, WV. The lead dermatologist, Beth Santmyire-Rosenberger (MD, PhD) is one of the top doctors in her field and new to the area. She came to us to help her develop a strategy for increasing her business. When you are dealing with folks of this caliber, the solution for how to help them is easy–get to the heart of the matter and tell the story of what makes this place different without getting in the way.

Pikewood’s capabilities cover the gamut of the forms of communication: video, radio, print, social media, etc. But we knew if we could adequately capture the story of Appalachian Spring Dermatology in a series of 30-second commercials on local TV, we could get Beth the business she needed.

So we learned about her business, talked to the right people, and it was lights, camera, action. We produced a series of TV commercials, put them on the air, and they really worked. Her business quickly increased, appointments were scheduled, and people have been helped. So much so that the TV spots were suspended because the demand was too high! Not a bad problem to have. There is some talk out there about how TV advertising is giving way to online advertising. Well, it’s not dead just yet. Just ask Beth. The trick is to have a great product and talented people telling your story. That’s what it’s all about.