Episode 41 – The Medium is the Message

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Episode 41 – The Medium is the Message


My guest of today’s show is Arthur RascoArthur is an award winning film producer and director based in North Carolina, who recently helped lead the efforts on a feature length documentary about the Ebola epidemic for Samaritan’s Purse called Facing Darkness. After working for Samaritan’s Purse for more than 11 years and filming in more than 30 countries, he’s now working on other feature length film projects independently. He has a passion for telling amazing stories, and quite often, those exist and come to us in the non-profit world as we encounter those who give and sacrifice so much for others.

Highlights from this Conversation

    1. What has worked well for you?
      1. The opportunity to tell stories
      2. 60 Second to 3 minutes video for social media.
        1. Enough time to build a character and tell a story about them
        2. The medium is the message, so you must understand the medium in order to craft your message.
        3. Don’t forget to get still photos, even in the midst of shooting a video



    1. What hasn’t worked well that we can learn from?
      1. Know the end game when creating a video or presentation
        1. How will what you are creating be used?
        2. Is what you are creating a part of a larger media project?
        3. How will you get traffic to what you are creating?
        4. Does there need to be a call to action? If so, what is it?
      2. What can we give to the audience through the stories that we are telling?



  1. What are you excited about?
    1. What drives people to work in difficult circumstances to help others
    2. Excited about people’s’ stories and what we can learn from them
    3. Related to marketing campaigns, who can you partner with?

Interview Transcript

Adam: [00:00:01] Hi, and welcome to the Good People Good Marketing podcast, a podcast about nonprofit digital marketing and how to make it better, so that good people at good organizations can have good marketing as well. I’m your host, Adam Walker, co-founder of Sideways8, a digital marketing agency that specializes in nonprofit work, and 48in48, a nonprofit dedicated to hosting events that build forty-eight websites for forty-eight nonprofits in forty-eight hours.

[00:00:25] My guest today is Arthur Rasco and he is an award-winning film producer and director based in North Carolina. He recently helped lead the efforts on a feature-length documentary about the Ebola epidemic for Samaritan’s Purse, called ‘Facing Darkness’. After working for Samaritan’s Purse for more than eleven years and filming in more than thirty countries, he’s now working on other feature-length film projects independently. He has a passion for telling amazing stories and quite often those exist and come to us in the nonprofit world as we encounter those who give and sacrifice so much for others. Arthur, thanks for joining me on the podcast.

Arthur: [00:01:01] Yeah, thanks for having me.

Adam: [00:01:02] Love your bio, love the storytelling – man, thirty countries, that is quite a few. You got me beat by large margins there, my friend.

Arthur: [00:01:11] Yeah, well, you know, my passports are a little bit full these days, but right now I’m working from home, so it’s been good to catch up and spend some additional time with my family.

Adam: [00:01:25] That’s great. I work from home as well and really enjoy it. So, I do the podcast out of my little office studio and it’s really a lot of fun. So, well, great! Well, let’s dive on it then. So, related to digital marketing and, I guess, in particular, nonprofit digital marketing, can you share something that has worked well for you.

Arthur: [00:01:44] Well, you know, what works well, I think, is the opportunity to tell stories, right. I’m a video producer. We’re working on films, and films and videos, I mean, they work well, especially in the  sixty second to three-minute length range for social media. I mean, that’s enough time to get a good story in and a time to get to know a character, get to know some people, get to know about what project or what organization you’re talking about, and enough time to get to know somebody, at least at a surface level to know about what challenges they’re facing and how they’re being helped through this project or organization at hand, and so that’s a great thing to be able to tell a story and understand that video or photography or the Internet, these are all mediums, right.

Adam: [00:03:00] Right.

Arthur: [00:03:00] These are all … and as the ever pithy, yet very true statement is ‘the medium’s the message’, right. And so, photography is used excellently for some things and brochures and print products are good for other things, and video is really good for telling stories and getting people emotionally involved at the heart level and sometimes I think people tend to use video for everything and try to cram too much information in, and especially in a minute to three minutes.

Adam: [00:03:45] Right.

Arthur: [00:03:46] And sometimes I think gosh, we need to focus on what the end goal is and really what the medium is best suited for.

Adam: [00:03:59] Right, yeah, I think understanding how a medium works, what it’s best suited for and how people engage with it, really begins to shape how we tell our stories and how we craft the different things that we’re crafting for that particular medium. So, understanding how Facebook works and what users are looking for, understanding Instagram and other social platforms as well. I love that.

Arthur: [00:04:21] Yeah and the other thing is, so many people  when they go out and they work on different video presentations or different marketing elements for their project or for their organization, a lot of times they’re working with these DSLR, these digital SLR cameras, and they take excellent still photos as well as shoot video, and that’s great.

[00:04:50] Sometimes people just kind of go out and they just shoot video with it, but I think that they’re missing an opportunity to just … if you’re setting up for an interview, that’s great, let’s shoot the thirty to sixty minute interview with your subject, but then, just before you wrap the camera and put the camera away, remove the microphone from the talon, and just have the talon look at the camera and let’s just snap a couple of photos. Those couple of photos can be used for on Instagram, they can be used for different print materials and you want to be able to have those high-quality photos for the different things that you’re working on.

Adam: [00:05:38] Right.

Arthur: [00:05:38] And you don’t want to have to pull still images from your video, because those still images from video are not nearly as high quality as the photos that you can get from just opening and closing the shutter in that still photo mode on your cameras. And so, that’s just a wonderful thing, very easy something to do. I shot a project last fall, and our cameras were tied up with filming, but I brought on a still photographer with us for a couple of shoots and I use those photos all the time…

Adam: [00:06:19] Right.

Arthur: [00:06:19] … in different print materials and promoting this particular project. That was one thing. You mentioned we did this film called ‘Facing Darkness’ about the Ebola epidemic, and that was one opportunity that I feel that we missed was we, on our first trip to Ebola to cover the documentary with Dr. Kent Brantly, who had contracted the disease, and we’re taking him back to Liberia. He’s going back, his first time back since he’s been sick. It’s a very emotional time. I didn’t have a still photographer with me.

Adam: [00:06:59] Oh, man!

Arthur: [00:07:00] And we missed opportunities to get some good quality still photos for social media purposes, for promotional purposes. And so, lesson learned. Now, I since went back a couple of other times and took still photographers with us, and so, but that one time with the doctor  it’s like you’re getting once in a lifetime stuff and the video cameras are rolling and we just missed an opportunity there.

Adam: [00:07:37] Yeah, yeah. Man, that’s really good advice. I like that. Don’t forget to get still photos, even in the midst of shooting a video. That’s really clever. So, next question, tell us related to nonprofit digital marketing, tell us something that has not worked well for you that we can learn from.

Arthur: [00:07:55] Yeah so, some of the things too that hasn’t worked well just some lessons learned is, if you’re creating a video or a presentation, just knowing what’s the endgame. What’s the goal in mind. Is this part of a campaign? Is this part of … is this going to be used on Facebook? And as you mentioned earlier, okay, so what are Facebook audiences like? You know, what do you do on Facebook? Do you just scroll through and like a few things, or what does it take for you to pause the scrolling, play the video and then even more so turn up the sound, right? So just knowing, okay, so what does it take to have your viewer stop scrolling and just having that in mind?

[00:08:56] You know, if it’s a YouTube … if you’re going to put a video up on YouTube, okay, how will you direct eyeballs onto it? How you direct the traffic onto it? And then, how do you handle the call to action? Or does the video or presentation need to have a call to action? Sometimes videos and presentations are done, and they’re shown at live events or donor dinners or different things hey, we’re getting a crowd together at this event and there will be a speaker that introduces our project or organization, and then we’ll roll this two to three-minute video, and then that person will come back up to the podium and wrap up. Well, again, like I mentioned earlier, knowing that video is a storytelling medium, let’s just tell the story in the video and then let that speaker make the personal appeal up there at the microphone him or herself, and then have the call to action there at that time, very, very personally.

[00:10:05] Another thing that I really, really appreciate, and that’s big on my heart, is this notion of giving. Of course in the nonprofit world, everybody is giving, and we’re hoping that donors and supporters will give to our projects and organizations. That’s all well and good, but what can we as storytellers or as marketers, okay, give to the audience through the stories that we’re telling, and just how can we give back to the audience. And if we kind of think about that, okay, well, what  if our beneficiaries are learning about self-worth or learning about God, if they’re learning about these different things, well, can we impart very lightly some of those lessons that our beneficiaries are learning, can we impart those on to our audience and can we give our audience something. That’s something that’s very, very big on my heart. When we worked on ‘Facing Darkness’, the Ebola documentary, that’s a story about Dr. Kent Brantly who contracted this very deadly disease, right.

Adam: [00:11:22] Right.

Arthur: [00:11:23] But we did the film when my father was suffering from a very deadly disease himself and he had cancer, and I wrote and developed that film largely as a gift to him about how to face a very deadly disease, yet, and the fear and uncertainty that that entails, but with faith and courage as we see exhibited in Dr. Kent Brantly, and so, I was in the writing room as we’re kind of developing and planning this project, and I said, “How can I encourage my father through this amazing story to face these difficult circumstances with faith and courage?”, and so that’s one thing that really inspired me and that was something that I, like I said, I wanted to impart to the audience.

Adam: [00:12:25] Right. Wow. That’s great. I love that. I wrote that down: what can we give to the audience through the stories that we’re telling? I’ve never, never thought of it that way, but I think that’s really, really brilliant. I appreciate you sharing that. So, last question, related to digital marketing, can you tell us something that you’re excited about?

Arthur: [00:12:44] You know, it’s a very tumultuous time. There’s lots of things going on. You know, what I’m excited about is what drives people to go out and to work in developing countries or to work in difficult circumstances and to help people. I’m excited about people’s stories and I think people want to know what is motivating people to go out and to contribute and to do these different things.

[00:13:23] And I think people’s stories are exciting and I think that’s, for an example, an organization like Samaritan’s Purse International Relief, what motivates, doctors to go out into very difficult circumstances, sometimes on the frontlines of a war zone, and to use their expertise in say a medical setting, to help people and those people could be from, it could be ISIS fighters themselves, they could be women and children that have been harmed in war zone circumstances.

[00:14:03] But what’s motivating those doctors and nurses to go and serve? What’s motivating different people to enact and take on these different projects or to lead these organizations be it for clean water or be it,  whatever benevolent purposes they’re looking to do. That’s what’s exciting to me, is people’s stories and what can we learn from that.

Adam: [00:14:31] I love that. I love that. And I’m excited about that as well. I think people have … I think everyone has an amazing story to tell if they sit down and really think about it, and a lot to offer to the world really, so. So, let me see if I can recap this conversation so far and just make sure that I’ve got everything and then you can sort of add to it and we can refine from there.

[00:14:54] So, as far as what’s worked well for you related to digital marketing, you said the opportunity to tell stories. You mentioned that sixty-second to three-minute videos are great for social media and is enough time to build a character and tell a story about them. You said, ‘the medium is the message’, so you must understand the medium in order to craft your message appropriately. I put that one in bold. You also said, don’t forget to get still photos even in the midst of shooting a video – which I think was really clever advice. That’s something I really never have thought of before, so I really appreciated that.

[00:15:27] For what hasn’t worked well that we can learn from. You mentioned it’s important to know the endgame when creating a video or presentation. How will it be used? Who are you creating it for? Is what you’re creating a part of a larger media project? How will you get traffic to what you’re creating? Does there need to be a call to action, and if so, what is it? And then secondarily you said – and this is in bold too – what can we give to the audience through the stories that we are telling? Which I thought was just fantastic and very, very insightful.

[00:15:58] For what you’re excited about related to digital marketing, you said what drives people and understanding what drives them to help in difficult circumstances and different parts of the world, and to understand people’s stories and what we can learn from them. Does that sound like a pretty good synopsis there?

Arthur: [00:16:14] Yeah, yeah, that’s excellent! And then just some other ways about as you’re creating marketing projects, marketing campaigns keeping in mind who can you partner with, who can you help, who in the world or what other organizations can you partner with that are doing similar things, not necessarily your “competitors” but who can help you get the word out about these different efforts.

Adam: [00:16:50] Right.

Arthur: [00:16:50] And be it other government organizations or international agencies that work in the countries in which you’re taking these projects or organizations, so just to expand your outreach of these, and just having … it’s part of that endgame mindset, but just also trying to think just a little bit bigger. Who can we partner with to help get the word out about our project or organization that we’re trying to promote here?

Adam: [00:17:24] I love that. I’m always a big advocate of thinking bigger. So, go bigger,  bigger and bigger and then, when you think you’ve gone big enough, go bigger than that and then go after that. And I think a lot of amazing things happen at that point, so.

Arthur: [00:17:37] Yeah, absolutely.

Adam: [00:17:38] Arthur, this has been an amazing conversation. Love to even have you back on the podcast again in the future. Really appreciate your time and thanks so much for joining me.

Arthur: [00:17:47] Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. If I can help,  anybody or anything, I’m at arthurrasco.com – A-R-T-H-U-R-R-A-S-C-O dot com – and people can find me there if they want to engage. But, yeah, appreciated talking to as well, Adam.

Adam: [00:18:03] All right, Arthur. Next time, man, next time. That would be great.

Arthur: [00:18:09] Thank you, man.

Adam: [00:18:09] Thanks for listening to the Good People Good Marketing podcast. To get more resources about nonprofit digital marketing, make sure to go to goodpeoplegoodmarketing.com, where you can find more podcasts, blogs and other fun resources. Also, if you want to find me, Adam, your host, you can find me on Twitter, @AJWalker, or on my blog, at adamjwalker.com, where I blog about leadership, productivity, habit building, and the craziness of having five kids. Thanks for listening and tune in next time.


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