A Big Bowl of Memorable Content

A Big Bowl of Memorable Content

Getting lots and lots of presents can make a person feel wonderful. But who wants lots and lots of crappy presents you didn’t want or ask for? Furthermore, it’s a colossal waste of time and money for the person giving the gifts.

That’s exactly how I feel about the video content we provide for our clients. As we all keep hearing, video content is king. But who wants a bunch of content with no substance and no clear direction or storyline? I can answer that quickly…nobody.

As video marketing has increased and evolved, I’ve made it a point to build a team that is second to none in modern day video marketing. That’s probably a bit of a bold statement, but I truly believe we are the best at combining expertly produced TV commercials and equally impressive web and social media video content.

The example that is on my mind right now is the work we’ve done for the Cactus Bowl and Fiesta Bowl these past few months. We’ve produced TV commercials that will air during both games, but we’ve put just as much thought and planning into all of the social media and sizzle reels we’re producing.

By January 1, 2017 we will have shot, edited, and produced 34 different videos for this client in just 3 months. Moreover, in the next 2 weeks, we will crank out 17 different videos for the Cactus Bowl and Fiesta Bowl. They will all be beautifully shot, produced, edited and memorable. If they’re not, then why are we doing them? After all, the goal is to get those who view these videos to get excited and take action. This is how our clients increase revenue. It’s something we take very seriously.

Please allow me to wrap this up by saying Happy Holidays to each and everyone one of you. If I haven’t met you yet, please give me a call, send an email, or just come on down to Manley Films.

Watch Cactus and Fiesta Bowl Videos by Manley Films & Media

Take me to the videos!
5 Insider Questions to Ask Your Social Media Agency

5 Insider Questions to Ask Your Social Media Agency

Wondering if the social media agency you’re considering hiring (or have hired) can be trusted with your brand? Obviously you need to grill them on why they are qualified, how often you can expect them to be posting, review samples of their work and check references. However, if you still feel like they’re missing something, check out our insider questions that you definitely need to be asking.

1. Do your employees actually write the social media postings and blog content?

One of the biggest loopholes in the industry is for a media agency to hire someone cheaper to write content for them. They will then resell this content to you, the client, at a higher price. This practice is called “white labeling” and it is responsible for vast amounts of content on blogs, video channels and media of all kinds. There are arguments for and against white labeling. We prefer original content generated by someone close to the business and plugged in to the relevant audiences, rather than an unknown content generator. We also believe that readers/viewers can sense the difference. If you are considering hiring an agency that provides white label content, be sure they also have good insights into your business and customers, and that you’re generally okay with the practice.

2. Do you track analytics?

A company that is posting across social media platforms but not analyzing the success of each and every post is only doing half the job. Each and every post needs to be under a microscope so that the strategy can be tailored to what is working. You should expect quarterly (if not monthly, as provided by Buzzly Media) analytics reports detailing the success of the agency’s efforts.

3. Are you using scheduling tools to schedule out all the content posted? If so, how far out do you schedule?

While scheduling posts is not necessarily a bad idea, it does have a couple downfalls. First, if an agency is scheduling weeks and months of content out in advance, that means they cannot be using analytics on previous posts to improve each one that comes after. The furthest out day to day posts should be scheduled is about a week. You want your agency to be constantly adapting and reanalyzing their strategies online. Additionally, we have pretty good evidence to indicate that scheduling on certain platforms (we’re looking at you, Twitter) is punished by the platform itself. Of course, social media platforms prefer unique, off the cuff content. They know that’s not what they’re getting when content is scheduled. While it’s fine to have a separate bank of approved content ready to go, it’s advisable to have a real, live human post it at the time you want it to go out. Another advantage to this is that a real live person can be watching various platforms for things that are “trending,” and can post something relevant on your profiles that may surge if it’s in line with what’s going on at that moment.

4. Is this your full time job?

Okay, okay, a little personal. But important. You want the agency you hire to be at the ready at all times to post fresh content, respond to people who comment on things, and monitor what’s going on. If you’re hiring an agency with a bunch of part-time staffers, things can get lost in the shuffle and you know they’ll be leaning heavily on things like scheduling content way out in advance. This is a question closely tied to the amount of work each employee is responsible for. No one person should be managing more than five clients at a time. It just won’t be good, believe us.

5. Where do you get the images/graphics you will be posting on our profiles?

If you want to post something about dogs and just google “dogs” you will get an abundance of adorable pictures. But you can’t just download the first one you find most adorable because copyrights exist! Even if a picture is on the internet, it can still be protected under copyright, and you can get in huge trouble for using someone else’s picture to promote your brand. Agencies should have a few solid sites or resources at their disposal for quality photos and should ideally be creating their own graphics. Our favorite source for license free photos is Unsplash!

EMMA TOTTEN is co-owner of Buzzly Mediabee_circle2

Not getting the answers you want from any of the agencies you’re thinking of hiring? Buzzly Media is a social media marketing agency with an expertise in nonprofit branding. Drop us an email; we’ll respond with surprising speed.

Never Let Words Get in the Way of Memorable Script

Never Let Words Get in the Way of Memorable Script

In our business, sometimes the best script has no words. In fact, some of our most successful videos have very few words or no words at all. I learned a long time ago to never let art get in the way of a memorable story. After all, the number one goal of telling a story in our business is to inspire those who view it and compel them to take action because they were moved in one way or another.


When I first started writing scripts many years ago, I crafted them with what I thought were eloquent, smart, poetic words. But, my scripts read more like a novel than a memorable video story. Then, I attended a lecture where the legendary reporter Bob Dotson had this to say about writing for television and video:

“Writing is nothing more than stitching one great sound bite or one descriptive frame of video to another. Any more than that and you’re just trying to show off.”

That was the moment I stopped trying to show off and I began telling the story the way it was supposed to be told. As a result, heart found a path into every video we make. I’ve never forgotten the lesson. It’s something we teach everyone here at Manley Films & Media. But, we don’t just mention it and move on; we constantly remind each other that every single video we produce has to be memorable. Not just some of them, all of them.

If we don’t do that, we’re wasting our clients’ time and money.

Yesterday, as we sat in our weekly planning meeting, our team watched this new Amazon commercial, modestly titled the “A Priest and Imam meet for a cup of tea.”

Just like we don’t let words get in the way of telling a good story, we don’t let ego get in the way of learning and improving. We didn’t have anything to do with the production of this video but I sat my team down to watch it. It was quickly dubbed the “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” video for the new era, with a decidedly more urgent appeal that the world needs more than words to heal.

Amazon’s video is beautifully scripted, but it has no words. It doesn’t need them. It tells a timely story in gestures, smiles, eyes and hands which weave a tale of acceptance, kindness, faith and unity. It’s a timeless novella of human compassion and benevolence. I don’t know, nor do I care, if Amazon is making a political statement with this commercial as some have theorized, or if Amazon is simply making a statement that allows the viewer to decide their own takeaway.

Here’s my takeaway. This story of unity will always drive marketing messaging. But, over the next year we will see an increase in the theme of unity. Some will be memorable, some will not. Not everyone who uses the unity theme will be up to the task. Telling this story will become more and more challenging, because commercials like this aren’t happy accidents. It takes a tremendous amount of planning by the production team and the client to pull a memorable concept like this together. If both sides aren’t totally committed, the end result might end up being a mere shell of what could’ve been. Or worse, incite a negative outcry.

We just finished two months of shooting, scripting, rewriting, drafting, storyboarding, location scouting, selecting actors, pre-shoot testing and crew coordination for three :30 commercials for one of our largest clients. Post production editing is happening as I write this and our client will come to Manley Films & Media HQ to view the first drafts of the commercials today. If you’re wondering if these commercials have words, they do. But, just enough to help stitch one memorable frame of video to the next. We take this and every client’s street cred seriously, so we will tweak every word and every second of film to tell their story the way they need and want it told. That’s a promise we make to our clients.

I started my company many years ago because I truly wanted to make a difference in this world. At Manley Films & Media, we are excited for this renewed focus on unity. Thanks for lighting the fire, Amazon Prime. Now, give us a call and we’ll take care of your next commercial.

View Amazon Prime’s video here.

Photo from Amazon Prime’s “A priest and imam meet for a cup of tea.”
Why Video is the Undisputed Champ of Marketing Versatility

Why Video is the Undisputed Champ of Marketing Versatility

I am in my third decade working in marketing. That means I’ve been through the turn of many tides and trends in the business of promoting businesses. In the 90s I was a writer and self-taught web developer introducing brave early adopters to web marketing. I built dozens of webpages that began as “your brochure on the world wide web” (those are cringe-worthy words today) in a world that still viewed “casting the widest net possible” as a viable strategy. I wrote and designed email newsletters and spent late hours breaking code on web sites so I could learn how to fix it and make it better. I juggled emerging options with traditional marketing while guiding clients through difficult decisions and transitions in their marketing approaches.


The days of being a Swiss Army knife marketer are behind me – I’d guess those days are behind everyone who works in marketing, simply because they don’t make Swiss Army knives with that many tools. Marketing is so vast that everyone declaring themselves a marketer is forced to specialize, or at least narrow their focus to a spectrum of skills in order to serve clients responsibly.

After an entire career built on creating marketing messaging in the midst of unprecedented change in information science, I’m declaring with great confidence that there is one content type that rises above the others. There is one type that has grown to embrace versatility, economy, intelligence and speed. One that supersedes all others in quickly getting the message out, specifically targeting its audience, evoking engagement and response. Unlike the traditional marketing of bygone days, it’s entirely measurable. And frequently credited for making overnight successes (or failures) out of unsuspecting businesses.

For all it’s good and bad results, video content reigns supreme and here is why.

  1. Video is versatile. It thrives on any distribution platform, is consumable in every environment from desktop to mobile. It can be long form documentary or a micro-short six-second blip. It can be repackaged, repurposed, and republished to fit the content need of the day.
  2. Video is easier than ever to obtain. You can call us today and have a video to review tomorrow. That’s one benefit of using a seasoned professional production company. Most of our clients opt for long-term video production because it fits their budget, addresses their needs for powerful messaging that generates immediate response, offers measurable results, and doesn’t take a lot of work on their part.
  3. Video has lasting impact, but it doesn’t have to be evergreen. One video shoot can spin off multiple videos with different messaging and calls to action. Working with a production crew who knows how to plan for the long-term helps. In our experience, being an integrated part of our client’s marketing team ensures that we’re also thinking about the next video a client needs as well as ways to improve upon a video’s performance.
  4. Video stimulates emotional, intellectual and visual senses. Video is evocative and speaks on many levels. Humans are hardwired to act when they see and hear something that grabs their interest. Video provides many ways to engage viewers on different levels.
  5. Video is the perfect tool for outreach to audiences on every social network, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Easy to share and instantly engaging, video is the closest thing to a face-to-face introduction that a company can get next to being there in person to deliver a message to an audience.

Let’s place these five reasons to use video in the context of today’s typical viewer: Viewers have the ability to filter the messages they see and block ads altogether. This happens in a world where the average viewer is hit with over 5,000 brand messages daily. Where viewers see your message, how viewers respond, and scripting those responses are key considerations for everyone with a marketing budget.

It is the power of video and the response of viewers that is driving the marketing industry to align on definitions of performance measures like engagement, which takes many shapes depending on its sharing platform. Video may be easier than ever to use, but it isn’t uncomplicated.

It is the most powerful tool for communication that exists today, with some of the most startling and exciting developments in tools and techniques (robot drones, anyone?) Paired with the affordability and accessibility of video, we have a hard time coming up with any type of business that wouldn’t want to rely on video as their bread and butter marketing strategy.

Ready to budget for adding video content? We’ve got you covered. Download our budgeting worksheet and Video ROI eBook.

What You May Be Missing About Your Video Audience

What You May Be Missing About Your Video Audience

If you are an active part of the social sharing culture, whether business, personal, or both, you already know that video and images get far more attention than text alone. Social media is language at a new level – it’s a cultural shift in the methods we use to communicate (with visuals) and sort information (with hashtags) that we want and need. And it’s evolving very, very quickly.

AOL (now owned by Verizon) researched what drives people in different parts of the world to engage with social media and found that people wanted social media content for these reasons:

  • To be in the know
  • For comfort
  • To make connections
  • Entertainment
  • To feel good
  • To find
  • To inspire
  • Be updated socially

All great reasons to reach out to your potential audiences with the number one response-getter: video. (Need 29 reasons? Read this.)

We are always discussing with our clients about the importance of knowing their target audiences on multiple levels. That’s never been more important than it is now. Not only is it important to segment your audience by characteristics such as age, gender, income, interests and geography, but research by Yahoo! (also now owned by Verizon) showed that the nuts and bolts of video production are also drivers of response. This includes techniques such as:

  • Vertical portrait alignment (easier viewing on mobile devices)
  • More calls-to-action (another of our favorite drums to beat)
  • Use of logos and brand alignment (don’t be modest)

People will watch your video content because it fulfills. It fulfills one or more of the personal needs like being in the know or feeling inspired. It accommodates their viewing preference and lifestyle. It acknowledges their place in the world and pushes them to take meaningful actions. It’s about THEM. It’s not really about YOU.

Example: Here’s a video we did for Phoenix Theatre that uses spectacular visuals and energy to promote a new show, tapping into the known drivers for the fans of shows like Hamilton. What you won’t see in the video is the supporting promotional efforts around the Phoenix area, such as billboards and strong social media, but all are key parts of the plan that made this show a runaway success:

In a nutshell, video content in 2016 is way more complex than video content in 2015. More than just creativity is required. The checklist of considerations gets increasingly longer as more companies clamor for attention from viewers on the top four platforms: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The platforms are shaking out and new platforms are emerging (such as 360° video/virtual reality).

It pushes video producers like us to balance on the edge of what’s known and what’s new, gently nudging our clients forward into new territory so they can stay competitive.

Consider yourself nudged.

Raw and Real: A Storyteller’s First Documentary

Raw and Real: A Storyteller’s First Documentary

I have always been drawn to documentary film. There is something about the narrative being raw and real that sets it apart from other movie genres. When I graduated from college with a degree in film, I was hungry to find a project for my first documentary.

My good friend, Maria, invited me to join her as a volunteer at Camp Tatiyee in Arizona’s stunning White Mountains. I was vaguely familiar with Camp Tatiyee, a camp for those with special needs, mostly because many of my close friends spent summers working there. I also knew the family that ran the camp. Jake, who studied acting with me for a time, and his mom, Pam, the Camp Director.

I decided to take Maria up on her offer. I figured it was only a day and it would probably be a rewarding experience. My job: I would be one of several actors portraying different individuals with specific needs (based on real campers) so that the camp staff could practice fire drills and safety protocols.

The overwhelming feeling of love and support you get at Camp Tatiyee is unlike any other. During the process of making this film we fell in love with this place, all of the Tatiyee staff, and of course the campers!

The overwhelming feeling of love and support you get at Camp Tatiyee is unlike any other. During the process of making this film we fell in love with this place, all of the Tatiyee staff, and of course the campers!

It was incredible.

I had never experienced such passionate counselors and staff. Even though we were merely acting (and probably not all that accurately) the staff treated these drills with intense seriousness. But what challenged me was the opportunity to step into the shoes of a special needs person. At one point, I was to act as a “total care” camper. That meant my body was paralyzed, although my mind was 100% engaged. I lay helpless against an imaginary blazing fire that was creeping through the cabin. I couldn’t even speak. All I was allowed to do was scream for help in my mind. It soon dawned on me as to why the counselors treated this exercise with such sincerity. It was my first realization that these campers are Just Like Us, and I hadn’t even met them yet.

Later in the day, as we were preparing to leave, I was speaking with Pam, Tatiyee’s Director. She was asking me about my plans now that I was out of school. I informed her that I was freelancing. I had a few video gigs. I went on to tell her about my drive for creating documentaries.

“That sounds great. Maybe you can make your first one here,” Pam responded with a smile and a wink. And that was it. That was the birth of Just Like Us.

Shortly after that, Jim Manley hired me to work for him at Manley Films & Media. One day, we chatted about the idea and he agreed to support my efforts. Jim has many years of experience with documentary film-making. He’s extremely passionate about storytelling.  To him, it was an easy decision. Just Like Us was going to happen.

I will never forget that summer. We went up to camp over 20 times, filmed over 2 terabytes of footage, conducted 22 interviews, and partied like rock stars with the campers. The staff was like family and we were able to capture it all on film. But what was even more amazing was witnessing how camp impacts the campers, an experience the film will illuminate for the magic it is.  

The final edit is almost finished. Looking back, I’ve realized a few things. I am definitely not qualified to direct a film about the special needs community. I started out this project knowing nothing about autism, cerebral palsy, cognitive delays, the deaf or blind. I never knew about their struggles, talents, personalities, ambitions and extraordinary abilities. But that may be exactly why I had to make my first documentary Just Like Us. As a guy who is a fervent activist for social justice, I want to help educate others who might be just as ignorant, or even dismissive, of people with special needs.

It is a privilege to call Just Like Us my first documentary short. It’s message may be simple but it is critical and I cannot wait to share it with you all.


Just Like Us, a Manley Films & Media Production, directed by Adam Benavides, is a documentary short about the Arizona Lions Club Camp Tatiyee in Lakeside and the importance of empowering those with special needs. Here’s how to learn more:

  • Visit the Just Like Us Facebook page to watch the trailer and show your support for this incredible community of individuals.
  • Subscribe to Manley Manuals to be among the first invited to the screening (date TBA) of Just Like Us. 

Do you have a documentary idea? We can help. Visit our video gallery to see some of Manley Films documentary projects.


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