“No. You can't tell the story of the women's movement through the story of one person.”

Image: MAKERS: Women Who Make America, TCA Press Tour
Image: MAKERS: Women Who Make America, TCA Press Tour

That was Gloria Steinem’s response to MAKERS’ founder and executive producer Dyllan McGee’s request to make a documentary about her life.

That “no” launched a mission to create the largest collection of women’s stories ever assembled. The MAKERS initiative, produced by PBS in partnership with AOL, compiles the stories of influential women—both well-known and unsung. The multi-platform project also hosts an ever-growing collection of more than 200 original video interviews online at MAKERS.com. More than 5.2 million viewers tuned into the 2013 MAKERS premiere, and the online videos have garnered 58 million views to date. 50% online are males.

Last month, my colleague Lucy Muscarella and I had the pleasure of supporting the MAKERS: Women Who Make America documentary series at the semiannual Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour in Pasadena, CA.  MAKERS’ six new one-hour documentaries focus on a different sphere of influence: business, war, space, Hollywood, politics and comedy. Under a time crunch, Greenough helped the MAKERS team pull together an all-star panel of representatives from the first three documentaries. Standup comedian Kathy Griffin, former CIA agent Valerie Plame, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and series founder and executive producer Dyllan McGee wowed the audience of TV critics with stories from space, critiques of Homeland, irreverent humor and inspiring accounts of how and why this initiative began.

MAKERS goes beyond the stats we use to describe women. It captures and celebrates inspirational stories that change the way we look at each other; that excite and encourage all of us to look at where we came from and we are going. This type of initiative has a ripple effect that significant, compelling, media content can, should, and does have.

Karen Laverty is an account director at Greenough. Send her an email: klaverty@greenoughcom.com

Visual Storytelling: Style versus Substance

Photo: Knight Digital Media Center 2011
Photo: Knight Digital Media Center 2011

We’ve all seen them… action-packed, special effects-driven movies with empty characters and a vague plot line.  These “blockbusters” always leave you wanting more (and not in a good way).   And as I see use of video marketing exploding among businesses, I can’t help but worry that brands will fall into the same trap.

According to a 1to1 Media post, videos are 50 times more likely to appear on Google’s first page results than non-video pages, presenting marketers with an immediate SEO advantage.  Viewers stay on sites with video five times longer than text-only sites and 80 percent of business execs watch more online content now than they did last year.

So how do companies capitalize on an effective visual storytelling plan without blowing their whole budget on one expensive, effects-driven production?

The right video crew understands the balance between style and substance.  They focus on telling a meaningful story and use animations and effects to enhance the original message.

Take Next Step Living for example: This video utilizes one of the hottest video marketing tactics right now (whiteboard video) while clearly conveying the company’s mission and commitment to making New England homes more energy efficient.

On the flip side, Geemmodity’s videos look great, but without any well-written copy to support the visuals, the “how to” productions fail to explain the product and ultimately end up confusing the viewer.

Flashy videos might be a creative way to grab a prospect’s attention, but without a substantial story to tell, even the prettiest productions will flop.

Christine Williamson is a senior consultant at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter @ChristineDBW

The Streaming War is on – Pass the Popcorn!

Gone are the days of going to the movie theater or renting a DVD especially now that Blockbuster has filed for bankruptcy.  With the rise of Netflix and other companies that stream movies and television shows online, it makes it easier to watch new releases at home – and has subsequently started an online streaming war.

The New York Times recently reported that Netflix is the front runner in the online streaming world with its subscription service, Watch Instantly. With the ability to watch movies on a computer, television, iPad or iPhone, a whopping 61% of Netflix’s 15 million subscribers streamed movies in the second quarter.

Netflix CEO CEO Reed Hastings - living large in the streaming wars.The only downfall is that Netflix’s catalog of 20,000 steaming movies doesn’t include many recent hits because the company hasn’t been able to negotiate rights from all the Hollywood studios. Most of Netflix’s deals require the movie to be on store shelves for 28 days before it can be available on DVD or online.

Not having the most anticipated movies and television shows available to stream when they are released makes other options very tempting. For example, “Robin Hood,” is available to stream on Amazon, but will not be available on Netflix until mid October. The online video hub, Hulu, which recently launched the subscription service, Hulu Plus has the current season of “The Office,” while the most recent episodes on Netflix are from last season.

What side will you take in the streaming war? Will you stick with the leader, Netflix, or the up-and-comers who offer the most recent releases? I’m voting for the underdogs!

-Contributed by Jena Coletti. Follow her @jmcoletti.