Category Archive: Web

How to Work Down and Dirty with DIY Video

There’s no substitute for experienced professional video production and post-production. The quality you get from a professional director, crew and top-notch gear goes a long way and can make your messaging really stand out.

However, making movies isn’t cheap by any stretch. Often times you might not have the budget for a professional crew. It also isn’t quick — with writing, scouting, shooting, editing, and final delivery make up a long, tedious process. That won’t cut it if you need something on a really tight turnaround.

If that’s your case, here are some tips and best practices you can follow to produce a DIY video — whether it’s a video abstract, didactic slide presentation, on-demand speaker training module, or training for users on a new portal — that can pass as professional and get your message across.

Writing Your Script

  • Don’t wing it
    Make a script and get it pre-approved by all stakeholders, especially legal review.
  • Practice, practice, practice
    Make sure you can recite it comfortably and comprehensibly.
  • Convert it to bullet points
    Come shoot day, put your laptop up as close as possible to the camera and use it as a confidence monitor.
  • Start with a nice intro
    Then, after you’ve recorded the rest, redo the intro over again. Why? You (or talent, if you’re filming someone else) be warmed up already, and this time will feel (and be) smoother, and more personable.

Getting and Using Your Camera

  • These days, there are lots of options
    There are laptops’ built-in webcams, DSLR digital cameras — even the iPhone 11 can film 4K video, the standard for TV and movies. This will largely depend on what you have available — or, if you’re making a long-term investment in video-making, go for it!
  • Always use a tripod
    This is true no matter what you use, so the video looks stable and professional. And if using a cell phone — have it in landscape orientation, this will avoid the black bars on either side.
  • Frame yourself or the talent nicely
    Shoulders and up is ideal, as you don’t want too wide of a shot — again, personable! Try to keep the camera level with whoever your subject is and not too high above or below.

Lights and Sound

  • Make sure the room is well lit
    The more lights the better, without your subject getting overexposed.
  • Pick the same color lights
    Each type of light has a different color, so don’t mix light types. This ensures a smooth and consistent light tone.
  • Make sure the room is quiet
    Chances are any background noise will be picked up. Lawn service mowing the lawn will be heard. Phone ringing down the hall will be picked up. That can’t be edited out — so be cognizant during filming!

And…Action

  • Don’t expect perfection 
    Let talent (or yourself) take their time, and encourage them not to get upset if they mess up a few times. The great thing about digital is that you can keep doing over and over as many times as needed. If they do mess up, just have them redo that section or slide over, and you can then edit out the bad take afterwards.
  • Avoid jump cuts
    If the whole video wasn’t done in one take (and it won’t be — even professionals mess up) you’ll need to do some editing, and deal with cuts. A jump cut is when there’s a cut in the video, but the camera or talent doesn’t move — it’s jarring, and won’t look professional. Here’s how to avoid that:
    • Record your video twice from two different angles. One close angle, and then a wide angle.
    • If you’ve got a short script, two angles isn’t too much work. But if you have a longer script — One possible workaround might be to put up a graphic or slide on-screen to cover that edit.
    • It’s a good idea anyway to work in some graphics, stock photos, video, or slides in your video to add some visual interest and to help complement the key messages for your video — that could be a great chance.

Post-production and Editing

  • There are a lot of options for software too
    From iMovie to Camtasia to Lightworks, etc., how do you know which is best? Our two cents is that we’re pretty partial to Adobe, so we use and recommend Adobe Premiere — but yes, there are plenty of other low-cost options out there you can explore.
  • Avoid hokey transitions
    Unless you’re being tongue in cheek, try to steer clear of star and clock wipes. Less is more. A simple fade, or no transition at all (as long as it’s not jarring) should suffice
  • Export your video
    Once you’re all done, export it out a MP4 video file — there are also a lot of options for that file, but MP4 is as close as there is to a universal format nowadays.

And then…it’s a wrap!

Creating a compelling, professional-looking video on a budget and time constraint, without a crew or much equipment on hand, can seem like an enormous task — more effort than it’s worth. But if you’re willing to get resourceful, and follow the above suggestions, it’s not impossible.

Thanks for reading, and let us know how your videos turn out — and what came in handy for you working on it!

This is a Great Subject Line: Latest Email Marketing Trends

It’s nothing new that the world is pretty much fully digital.

That’s obvious everywhere you look. But that doesn’t mean it’s something to take for granted. One thing that we (and pretty much every business in the world these days) have found increasingly effective for us is leveraging email to communicate with our clients, prospects, and other interested parties. So I just wanted to reflect on five of the trends that we see going on in email marketing today. If you need to communicate with your clients, prospects, etc. – these can help you reach and engage with your audience in a way that gets results.

  1. Quality > Frequency. Hopefully (just like I’m hoping for this one!) your emails are worth reading. If they’re not, it doesn’t matter how often you’re churning them out. A really solid, informative read once a week sticks out more than a half-baked blurb every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, even if that feels like you’re reaching your audience more. Now, don’t be afraid of frequency if you really have something to say — but having something to say comes first. How do you monitor this? That scary little “opt-out” link. You shouldn’t take all opt-outs personally. A reader may no longer be interested not because you’re not interesting, but because things have changed for them. Or, maybe their inbox is just too cluttered — we’ve all been there. But opt-outs are still essential to monitor. Get too many and there may be something to improve on your end.
  2. Consistency: Frequency’s second cousin. So if you’ve got quality emails worth opening, hopefully people start opening them. That’s when consistency comes into play — if you gather a following, they should come to expect your posts on a reliable, consistent basis. If you have a Wednesday blog, post on Wednesday. Even if you’re unsure of the kind of following you have — post like you have a devoted one! Chances are it’ll help you get there.
  3. How much content? You’ve got some strong posts that you’re sending out every Wednesday at 9 AM that your followers know to expect. But one day, you’re drafting up a new email, and you find yourself having a lot more to talk about then you previously thought. You’re paragraphs and paragraphs deep. It’s all kind of related though, right? That’s up to you. It’s important, though, to examine every post and see if it’s worthy of 1 piece of content, or 2 or 3 pieces of content…what’s going to keep your audience engaged? In a fast-paced, mobile world, you don’t want to lose people with posts too dense and verbose, but you also want to say what you have to say. Be sure you’re breaking up your content in a way that remains dynamic and economical for a reader.
  4. Mobile-friendly design. Alright, perfect: you’ve got a high-quality post. You’re sending it out every Wednesday. It’s Part 1 of a 3-part arc that your readers can avidly follow. It’s in a clean, engaging, eye-catching email, with a photo or graphic, important links. Somebody on your email list is checking their email on their phone, they see it, open it up…and it’s white squares, chopped up text that’s too small to read, and files that didn’t load. Of course the one thing that does load, front and center among the mess, is your logo. People don’t check their emails when they get into work anymore, they check their emails on their phone on the bus to work. So you want to be prepared by having a design compatible with both a clicking mouse and a scrolling thumb.
  5. The final test. No matter how much time you spend mapping out your posts, tracking your followers, developing friendly design — the truth is, nobody can tell you what works better than who you’re actually selling to. That’s why an increasing number of companies are sending out A/B emails. Email A is flashy, colorful, funny. Maybe the subject line is “Help! We Couldn’t Think of a Subject Line!” Okay…I’ll leave the jokes to you. Email B is a couple paragraphs of texts, minimalist design, strictly professional. Email A goes to half of your email list, Email B goes to the other. You keep track of what gets the best response, and you design future marketing accordingly.

We see engaging with clients and customers effectively and consistently as key in growing your business, and paying attention to your email marketing is a huge part of that. In today’s world, email lists can reach an unparalleled number of eyes, and you need to make sure those eyes are hooked. Now can somebody help me come up with a subject line for when I send out this blog?

Keys to Success: CMW’s New Website Design Process Infographic

Hello once more! CMW here again. When we shared with you our Website Beta Testing Checklist, we discussed the impact that the explosion of the Internet had on our company after its founding in 1989, when the first commercial dialup Internet service provider was just being opened. Since then, of course, web design has become one of our featured services. From KOL/speaker portals to slide libraries to video production, we’ve seen it all, which is why we’re giving you a look at our website design process.

It goes without saying that a lot of layers are involved when creating the perfect website. But even if you have an idea of everything that needs to be done, keeping track of it in an orderly way can be difficult. We’ve broken down the process into 6 simple stages: Develop Project Plan, Planning and Research, Design, Development, Deployment, and Maintenance. Following this formula can solve common problems of disorganization, rushed or missed work, and unneeded stress. Our infographic also includes tips on user preferences to optimize the effectiveness of your site — as well as a handful of other helpful references and statistics. Know the territory! Use it all to your advantage.

Your website is one of the most important reflections of your company. Streamline its design with our Website Design Process Infographic. These critical phases of website development will help you manage your next website project with authority.

Keys to Success: Beta Testing that New Website of Yours!

Hey there! It’s CMW again. A lot’s changed since CMW started back in 1989 – we found our industry niche in life sciences, for instance. But the most significant development wasn’t in our own company – but in the world: the Internet, of course. Adapting to the new frontier, we learned how to optimize our clients’ online experience, as well as offer them our own web design service to optimize their clients’! Because this area is so important to us, and is essential to everybody today, we offer you our best tips to keep in mind when website beta testing.

One of the best tests of your customer service quality is the “blind shopping” simulation; a third party stands in for a potential client and you watch how efficiently they’re able find what they need to find on your site, to make sure they’re not jumping through hoops to get answers, or giving up before they do. This is basically the same logic as a website beta test, only this beta test goes deeper. Every functionality of your website needs to be checked and double-checked; its web browser compatibility needs to be seamless. At a base level of design and coding, your site needs to be airtight. Beta testing can avert a lot of risks: audience confusion, company misrepresentation, and even security failure. You can solve these problems before they become problems.

In a brave new world, make sure your online presence is up to the task, any task. Use this Website Beta Testing Checklist to cover all your bases – from assembling the right review team to avoiding dangerous security breaches.


Keys to Success: CMW’s Guide to Email Design

Keys to Success: CMW’s Guide to Email Design

Hello! It’s CMW here again, with something we think you’ll appreciate. As you probably know, we have been working in the design/production space for life sciences for a long time. Along the way, we’ve found many processes and problem-solvers that have improved the way we do business – and the way we deliver quality, on-time and to spec. Drawing from that pool, we’ve put together a series of tip sheets with our best tricks and suggestions to better your work. Today’s advice is on email design.

We’ve found leveraging email to communicate with our clients incredibly effective at CMW, and in a digital world, we think you should too. People get a lot of emails on a daily basis — a lot. Spam, subscriptions, spamming subscriptions — and that’s before you even get to the hundred important things. You want to circumvent short attention spans and the bumpy bus rides where people are checking email on their phone. Slick, professional, and functional email design – with something valuable for the reader – is how you won’t get lost in the shuffle. It solves miscommunication, losing a reader’s interest, and — the nail in the coffin — winding up with a lapsed subscriber or in somebody’s spam folder.

Don’t let those problems weigh you down or hurt your business. From images to fonts to layout, make your email pop, and say exactly what you need to say. For email design tips that will help you optimize user experience and ensure compatibility with multiple devices and email applications, download our Email Design Tip Sheet today.

Create Compelling Video Abstracts

Your scientific study is perfectly written and complete. With complex subject matter and extensive information included in the printed abstract, expand your reach and showcase it with a video. The goal – to be engaging while increasing the visibility of an author, their work, and to enhance the user’s experience. Take your study, compress the content into a short video, and make it accessible in a format that will expand your reach by putting it on a homepage, YouTube or anywhere on the web.

While the luxury of hiring a fancy video crew and shoot on location would be marvelous, it isn’t necessary to break the bank to create a fascinating product that hits home and effectively gets your message across. Click here to read more »

Is Your Speakers Bureau Management Software Outdated?

The introduction of online platforms into speaker program management has enabled medical communication agencies and life science professionals to keep up with the increasing regulations of pharmaceutical speakers bureaus while providing more efficient service to their customers. But if you find yourself working with speakers bureau management software that is poorly  designed, difficult to use, or requires additional platforms or programs to compensate for workflow inefficiencies, it may be time for an upgrade. Still not sure? Here are 5 clear signs it’s time for an upgrade. Click here to read more »

Video Abstracts

As life science associations and journal publications seek to increase their digital channels, we wanted to take a look at the value of video as a medium for abstracts. Are video abstracts helpful? Or are they just another way of using technology for technology’s sake?

Click here to read more »

Custom Speaker Bureau Management Software

Speaker bureau management software helps streamline program management for agencies who manage life science speaker bureaus. It serves as one centralized repository for administrators, sales reps and speakers. And they can access it any time for real-time data and status information. A platform that tracks aggregate spend, budget allocations, speaker honoraria limits, and speaker contact information helps everyone stay within compliance.

Click here to read more »

Online Event Registration

Online Event Registration

Online event registration enables meeting planners to easily track attendance, streamline communication with attendees, and run detailed reports. Developing a custom platform enables you to offer your clients a proprietary online event registration solution that meets the strict regulatory requirements of the life science industry while accommodating the individualized needs of each client. If the idea of building an event registration website from the ground up seems out of intimidating, there are ways to streamline the process. Click here to read more »

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