Published: 10 May 2013

Ready for our close-up: Gingerbread’s Mother’s Day video

To celebrate Mother’s day we decided that rather than send out a press release we’d make a video, in-house and on a practically non-existent budget. We felt it was important to show real single mothers talking about their real experiences, especially on a day which can often leave single parent families feeling side-lined.

Lights

Gingerbread is currently running a three-year campaign, Make it work for single parents, aimed at breaking down the barriers to work facing single parents.
We decided Mother’s Day was the perfect opportunity to shine a light on just how multi-talented single mums really are, and why the government and employers need to unlock their potential by changing the way employment works for (or in many cases, against) single parents.
We put a call out to our members and the single parents on our Facebook page to ask for volunteers to be filmed. We received a good number of replies from mums keen to help us dispel the myths about their lives.

Camera

Using our compact video camera (which also doubles as our organisational camera for taking photos) we set out to film with three single mums, two in work and one looking for it. It was incredible to see their initial nerves melt away as they spoke honestly, inspiringly and humorously about their lives and the journey becoming a single parent has taken them on.
We knew instantly that their voices and their faces would truly speak to other single parents, louder and more realistically than any blog post or webpage we could have put up.

Action!

After editing our footage, again in-house, and agonising over how to cut down an hour’s worth of interviews to just a couple of minutes, we launched the video on our Youtube channel and embedded on our website, on the Friday before Mother’s Day. Then we just had to make sure people saw it.
The video went out to over 30,000 of our members via our monthly members’ e-newsletter, and we posted it to our Facebook page and Twitter feed. We called in the help of some of our favourite single parent bloggers who shared the video. We also Tweeted celeb single mums, like model Jade Parfitt and actress Laila Rouass, who shared the video with their followers.

The review

Video is one of the best ways to bring your cause to life. When you’re working with people who experience marginalisation, it’s the perfect way to get their stories into view. Here’s my favourite comment about the video, from one of the single mums we interviewed:
“Feel so happy and very privileged to have taken part in this, thank you Gingerbread for this INCREDIBLE boost for single parents like me. Your encouragement and support for us means a LOT, Thank you!”
We’re really excited about using video more at Gingerbread and, with Father’s Day just around the corner, it’s the UK’s single dads’ turn to set the record straight next. We can’t wait to help them do it.
Watch Gingerbread’s Mother’s Day video:

Our top tips for venturing into video

  • Be flexible and put your interviewee first

We filmed our participants when and where it was convenient for them so they’d feel more comfortable, even if that did mean more travel time for us.

  • Always have at least two of you going to film

For safety, and also because you’ll need one of you to operate the camera and the other to ask the questions! Remember to ask your interviewee to repeat the first part of your question in their answer, so you can edit out the interviewer’s voice without losing coherence.

  • Think about your shot

Set up the camera so you make the most of your location. Avoid filming against the light, and try to get a variety of angles and different backgrounds in your film. Try to get participants to make eye contact with the interviewer rather than looking into the camera – it’ll look more natural and also help settle their nerves.

  • Make sure you cover all the legal stuff

Ensure you have release forms and make it clear to your participants where the video will be going and what you will be using it for. Also make sure you have the relevant permissions to film in the locations you’ve picked.

  • When editing, remember the overall message

Try to weave a cohesive narrative through your video and make sure everything that goes in contributes and leads up to the key message you want to push.

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Check out CharityComms' Best Practice Guide to portraying beneficiaries.


Anna Pietrowski, senior content manager, Age UK

Anna has been working in charity sector communications for the past 10 years. She’s currently senior content manager at Age UK.