We Don’t Do Boring Email Newsletters: How To Rethink the Genre
How does Storyhunter successfully create content for its multiple social media channels and blog? We use the power of our network to help us ideate, produce, and serialize engaging short-form content on a regular basis.
Creative Challenge: Email newsletters just weren’t cutting it. We needed to reinvent this genre that reflects what we do best: video.
Solution: We defined the goal and structure of the Video Newsletter internally and then leaned on a trusted creative partner to come up with an easily-replicable template.
How did we start the creative process?
Storyhunter CEO and Founder Jaron Gilinsky wanted to showcase the top projects completed through our platform and the news at our company in a fresh and exciting way.
He wanted a repeatable format, something that was plug-and-play. But, what is a Video Newsletter? What is the structure? What is the length? How can we engage viewers right off the bat?
We engaged in creative conversations internally and once we identified the details, we created a posting for a production company that could use animation to bring the vertical Video Newsletter to life.
The posting went up on December 2, 2021 and within a day we started receiving dozens of applications. Forty-six creative professionals, from India to Spain to the USA, applied for the role. We shortlisted people based on their familiarity with the Storyhunter platform and our mission, new ideas for the structure of the Video Newsletter, and animation skills.
We hired Volt Films, based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. They had worked on the post-production of our Stories of Tomorrow series and closely understood our brand style. In addition to coming up with the format from scratch, we contracted them to edit the video every month based on the latest assets that we gave them.
“We were very excited to work on this project, especially because we, as freelancers and long-time Storyhunter’s members, feel very connected to the platform and its purpose,” Lucas Haas, director of Volt Films, told us. “It’s definitely rewarding to be able to showcase these great projects and freelancers around the globe and help communicate with the industry.”
How did Volt Films build the Video Newsletter format?
Volt Films, run by Lucas Haas and Patricia Maccioni, sent us a visual treatment presenting options for graphics and lettering. “The visual treatment is a tool that we always use to express our mood references to our clients. Since all of our work starts with a blank screen, we must show our clients all possibilities that we think would work for a specific project, and then create something new and customized for them,” Lucas explained.
It was important to choose visuals that not only adhered to Storyhunter’s brand style but also popped on social media.
In terms of music, we were going for a “futuristic” sound. The production company sent us a list of tracks to choose from based on our preference.
Lucas provided a breakdown of the workflow for this project: “We hear from the client on their needs and expectations, spend hours researching and developing a visual treatment, share this visual treatment, re-align expectations, start working on animation and music, the overall structure of the video, and adding each story to its placeholder, adapting graphics, maps, and other animations as well as inserting all text information to each segment. Once our cut is approved, we move on to sound fx, audio mixing, and final deliveries.”
The posting went up in December but it wasn’t until early March that we hired Volt Films. The team took two and half months to deliver the final asset: We published the first Video Newsletter on May 26.
Once a couple of the Video Newsletters were published, we realized that the opening page showing the latest monthly stats was repetitive. Storyhunter Marketing Director Elizabeth Filimonova suggested creating an opening montage from the featured brand videos, serving to hook audiences.
What were the results?
We published the videos across our channels including YouTube, Facebook, and Linkedin. The Video Newsletter performed best on Instagram and TikTok in terms of views and engagement. This is not surprising as the vertical format and eye-catching visuals lend itself well to these platforms. There are several other videos that have exceeded expectations on Instagram and TikTok, including a series of three vertical videos we published based on our most popular blog posts (For example, “How To Make Your Videos Ads Environmentally Friendly.) The Video Newsletter is also a powerful sales tool, as it showcases the breadth and depth of the Storyhunter network.
What did we learn?
If you have an idea for something new, you can bring it to life through creative partnerships (Read more about how creative partners are crucial in the Story Economy.) We also learned that once you lock down the animation style and structure, it is difficult to go back and make any changes. So, communicate clearly with your production team in the beginning stages.
What was Volt Film’s takeaway? “No matter where you are at or where you need to shoot, Storyhunter helps bring people closer to each other,” Lucas said. “It makes us very happy to see how many great shooters, producers, writers, and other professionals are creating wonderful stories and sharing their experiences with everyone.”
By Shivan Sarna, Head of Stories