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Making the video connection.

Making the Video Connection

What's in full color and "read" all over?

Few people will read an entire publication, but most will sit through a TV show. With the growing use of VCRs, the National Telephone Cooperative Association (NTCA), Washington, D.C., decided to create a video magazine as an alternative way to communicate with members.

Today about a third of the association's 490 members subscribe to The Video Connection. Many use the quarterly video magazine to inform and educate their boards, employees, or community service organizations. Others like to keep in touch with association work, and unlike print publications, video carries a sense of being on the spot.

The magazine's 30-minute format usually consists of two features plus updates on legislative or industry topics. Ideas come mostly from staff and occasionally from members. We focus on ideas that members can use or from which they can learn something. Recent stories include

* a telephone cooperative in rural Oklahoma that built an interactive video system to link far-flung schools, enabling one teacher to reach students throughout the districts; * how a cooperative in Kansas attracted a large telemarketer to its area, bringing badly needed jobs; and * the U.S. visit of a delegation of Polish policymakers with whom NTCA is working to establish small telephone systems in rural Poland.

One full-time staffer handles the entire production, from concept to finished tape. NTCA's video producer conceives and usually writes each script; creates the story boards and hires freelancers and, if necessary, actors; and plans, shoots, and edits. He and his manager together work out the stories for each issue. The manager helps the video producer locate the right people and resources, works with him on the scripts, and keeps an eye out for political landmines. Lead time from concept to viewing is usually two months.

Video does cost. NTCA has a top-of-the-line camera, a monitor, decks for half-inch and three-quarter-inch tape, complete lighting and sound kits, battery packs, boom mikes, and more--about $40,000 worth of equipment. On top of this is the video producer's salary and benefits.

For The Video Connection, members pay $275 a year, and nonmembers pay $375, which recovers basic production costs. The annual production budget is about $30,000. We find ways to economize. For instance, most studios force clients to use studio editors; our producer struck a deal to do his own editing. We use the Library of Congress and Department of Agriculture archives for background photos, and on every trip the producer shoots stock footage. NTCA also produces several special videos each year, and sales go a long way toward covering the cost of a producer.

If you consider doing a video magazine, keep these points in mind:

* Hire the right person. Our producer has a master's degree in film and video and 10 years of experience. * Decide whether to use video as a money-making tool or a member satisfaction tool, or find a balance. * Don't skimp with cheap equipment or buy too little of it. * Copyright your work. * Remember there are other rewards than the bottom line. Great member feedback is not quantifiable, but it's important. Hundreds of copies of the interactive education piece have been shown to industry meetings, politicians, universities, and economic development councils all over the nation--each one carrying NTCA's name.

Marlee R. Norton is manager of public affairs, National Telephone Cooperative Association, Washington, D.C.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Society of Association Executives
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Good Ideas; National Telephone Cooperative Association creates a video magazine titled The Video Connection
Author:Norton, Marlee R.
Publication:Association Management
Date:Oct 1, 1991
Previous Article:COBRA update.
Next Article:A matter of fax.

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