Phone video opens new horizons for charity

All charities relish a spot of publicity and fund raising, and Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice in Gloucestershire recently found itself with a gift of a subject. An 89-year-old supporter who was up for a wing walk on a vintage biplane!

But the story of the octogenarian’s aerial adventure set a high bar for hospice PR and marketing Officer, Hayley Clemmens.

A week or two before, Hayley had been on one of my comprehensive smartphone video courses learning how to shoot and edit simple, punchy videos using just a smartphone and a few inexpensive accessories and apps.  Now her first outing as a professional video producer involved a great story but a big challenge!

First steps

“I have often overseen TV crews covering hospice events or stories or managed external video production companies coming in to shoot professional video, but I have never got behind the lens to shoot or edit a video myself,” says Hayley.

“My previous experience of taking video has been capturing my children blowing out the candles on their birthday cake to share with friends and family on Facebook. The thought of picking up my smart phone and creating a video to effectively tell a story and communicate the charity’s key messages felt something way beyond my reach.

“I must admit I felt a bit daunted before the training session with John,” says Hayley, “I was worried about getting to grips with the new way of communicating, the new equipment and the new editing software too. It felt a lot to get my head around.

“I needn’t have worried as John broke everything down into easy to understand bite size chunks packed full of practical tips.

“After just one morning of training he sent us off shooting and editing our first video – amazing really considering this was something none of us had done before.”

Test flight

So, when two weeks later one of Sue Ryder’s supporters, Betty, said she was planning to wing walk 500 feet above the skies of Gloucestershire to celebrate her 89th birthday and raise funds for the hospice Hayley knew immediately this was a wonderful opportunity to put her training to the test.

“I interviewed Betty in her home about her upcoming wing walk using my smartphone and tied in some ‘B roll’ footage from different angles to overlay against the interview. I had the opportunity to pop along to the airport to speak with the pilot who would be flying Betty and take photos of the plane.

“The following week I was back at the airport for Betty’s flight, smartphone in hand. As the day unfolded I found myself looking for different opportunities to capture short video clips thinking about different angles or focusing on different activities and people. While shooting I found myself thinking about the sequence I would edit together to capture Betty’s incredible flight.

“Luckily, I had access to two Go Pro cameras capturing footage of Betty in flight, one on the wing of the plane and one strapped to Betty’s chest. I had great fun stitching the clips together into the final video capturing and sharing Betty’s story.


Hayley’s debut video drew over 2200 views on Facebook and a local radio station asked to use the audio from the video in their news bulletins, meaning Hayley could demonstrate the training was already resulting in increased media coverage for the hospice, one of her main aims in going on my course!

Smartphones can produce outstanding video that in many ways rivals the quality of conventional video, but with additional advantages.

Phones are supremely portable.  So, if you shoot and edit on the same device you effectively have a video studio that will slip into your pocket or bag.  The apps are easy to learn and use, the accessories you need are few and low-cost.  And if you couple the phone with professional shooting and editing techniques you have a new and powerful way of communicating with your audience, telling stories and imparting messages in an attractive and easy-to-digest way.

Video literacy

Suzanne Ostler is PR and Marketing Officer at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice in Peterborough.  She explains why the charity regards DIY smartphone video as so important going forward:

“Video is becoming more and more important in every aspect of external and internal communications, from marketing and media relations through training to reputation management.

“Facebook is a key communication channel for us and the one format driving significantly higher shares than any other is video. There’s been a shift in the way supporters consume media – moving towards a preference for more visual platforms.

“The landscape of local media has changed dramatically in the last five years particularly. In the regions our local evening and daily newspapers are now weekly or disappearing altogether. We have fewer opportunities to gain column inches. But if we provide video we secure online space – they publish, they share on social media and that encourages further engagement online.”

“I think within regional marketing and PR there has been a fundamental shift in emphasis. The demand is now for good video rather than a beautifully crafted press release.

“The great thing about smartphones is we already know how to use them and the video shooting and editing apps are intuitive to use. It took us no more than a day’s training to get on top of the basic principles of phone video and after that it’s just practice makes perfect. What’s more you can practice at home or on holiday; it’s fun as well as a professional tool. So, for us phone video is a win-win.”

Or as wing walker Betty might say, the sky’s the limit!

Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash


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