Starting a Relationship With Video

Video. The mere term may conjure images of pricy production studios, onsite filming and months-long timeframes — but video has come a long, long way. Today, it is an essential tool in communications overall but especially so in our neck of the woods: social change communications.

Consider this: A 2015 video of a sea turtle inspired a global movement against single-use plastic, like straws. In 2018, shaky cellphone footage from classrooms inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School sparked a nationwide movement led by young people that helped change gun laws in Florida. A 2020 cellphone video of a Black man dying under the knee of a white police officer sparked a national movement against police brutality and systemic racism. What would those issues be without video? More text for people to process and potentially ignore. The visual was everything.

As PR practitioners, we always embrace the strategies and technologies that help our clients’ messages be heard, and the data show that video speaks volumes. Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video, compared to just 10% when reading it as text. This is important for public education campaigns where there may be a learning curve among the audience about the issue (e.g., the latest treatments in stroke care). When it comes to reach, 92% of mobile video viewers say they share what they watch with others. So, a video designed to reach one audience may in fact reach many, many more … for free! And the fact is that, depending on your expectations, videos can be developed almost on a dime these days.

Although Vanguard isn’t a video production firm, we have been integrating this digital strategy into our campaigns for years. Lately, the demand for video assets has been escalating. Here’s why:

Clearly, video has incredible power in communications, but where do you start?

Not All Videos Are the Same

Whether it’s an animated explainer video or a documentary-style call to action, our firm’s creative talent knows how to identify video formats that are best suited for the needs of our clients — and there’s quite a lot we can do in-house. In many ways, video production has never been easier, thanks to new software, online image databases and other tools that are a video’s building blocks. When the production needs call for it, we also work with a small and trusted group of partners to bring a concept to life.

Our approach is collaborative, building in opportunities for our clients to understand the process, ask questions and provide feedback on a video from concept to final cut. We consider audience, tone, style, length, where the video will live, how long it will be relevant and other factors that make it worth the investment. We also apply best practices based on research, such as how long the average human’s attention span is. (Hint: It gets shorter each year.)

If you’ve been flirting with video for a while but may now be ready to start a relationship, take a look at how we’ve been courting this tool for our clients.

Why Get Involved in Communities Talk?

Underage Drinking Prevention Education Initiatives, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration


This video outlines how the program supports local prevention efforts and helps keep youth engaged in the prevention movement. It is used to inspire communities across the nation to participate in Communities Talk.

VOTE411: Election Information You Need

League of Women Voters of the United States

Developed to promote a website launched by the League of Women Voters Education Fund (LWVEF), this video incorporates an animated show and tell approach to demonstrate the specific ways voters can use This video was also translated into Spanish to extend its reach to Latinx audiences.

Solving Problems Through Team Building

American Psychological Association

Developed to support APA’s “Psychology: Science in Action” campaign, this video was part of several multimedia elements designed to educate the public about how the science and application of psychology benefits society and improves daily lives.

The Other Side

National Council for Behavioral Health

Developed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Community Mental Health Act, this video provides first-person accounts that outline the benefits of seeking behavioral health services.

Suicide Prevention in Tribal Communities

National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

This is part of a series of videos that touch on how communities across the country develop “systems of care” to support local-level mental health needs.

Prescription Drugs: What’s the Harm?

Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

This video was developed as part of a series of more than 40 short videos called “Prevention Conversations,” which featured interviews with substance misuse preventionists from across the country.


Vanguard Communications

This video was produced to celebrate the 100th birthday of the LWVUS. This video was not created for a client, but rather an opportunity for Vanguard’s team to flex our creative muscles.