Taken from: www.citizen-times.com
"When Jared Kay decided to use a video camera to create a livelihood in 2005, he could barely justify the effort. It was a "glorified hobby," he said.
But that same year, YouTube was created. The online video sharing platform would eventually disrupt the media industry, creating an international content streaming obsession.
Kay's company, Amplified Media, has been on the right side of that disruption. Today, Kay spends his days in a sleek, spacious office in the River Arts District, and he's motivated to share the benefits of his success with others.
Through a new initiative called StoryShare, he's giving away $30,000 worth of videos to nonprofit partners and offering judiciously priced services to Asheville.
“We’re a voice for anyone, really, who has a story to tell," he said. “I think consistent content on a regular basis where you’re staying top of mind — you’re planting seeds.”
The StoryShare initiative is a simple, streamlined, relatively low-cost way for people to create video. In some ways, Kay is competing with himself, charging hundreds of dollars for a stripped down service when he could be charging thousands for more features.
But the logic behind offering a low price point — and potentially selling more volume — makes sense considering the rapid rise of video over the last decade.
Back in 2005, Kay said it was almost impossible to break into the video production industry.
"It was kind of off limits unless you were a TV station," he said.
TV stations offered airtime packages with camerawork and production included, sidelining entrepreneurs like Kay.
But the one-two punch of YouTube and other social media changed everything, offering easy ways to post and share videos. And the content didn't have to be professional. Anyone with a camcorder or cell phone could post.
In 2015, internet users spent more time watching videos than performing any other online activity, according to market research group Forrester.
Courtney Money-McIntosh and Jared Kay of Amplified Media in their new River Arts District space. (Photo: Angela Wilhelmfirstname.lastname@example.org)
Earlier this year, the photo sharing app Instagram acknowledged the supremacy of video by creating a way for users to post one-minute clips.
In short, the consumer appetite for video is voracious, and Kay is finding new ways to feed it. His strategy: Offer frequent fresh footage.
“We’re producing genuine, authentic, organic content on a regular basis,” he said. “It’s relatable. You can feel the content in a different way than you can written."
Amplified Media typically charges several thousand dollars for video projects, putting regular new content out of reach for small businesses and nonprofits with limited budgets.
That lack of accessibility didn't sit well with Kay, so he envisioned StoryShare as an affordable subscription program through which businesses can generate the volume of video they need to satisfy their Facebook audiences. A one-year subscription includes 12 videos and costs $500 a month.
StoryShare takes place in a large, high-ceilinged area in Amplified Media's Depot Street office. The street-level retail space welcomes clients and saves Kay the chore of lugging camera equipment up stairs to a more traditional office space, he explained.
A white background and overhead lighting are permanent fixtures. A simple shoot can happen anytime in the crisp, expansive space, which Kay describes as "spa-like."
Courtney Money-McIntosh, StoryShare coordinator, directs each session, delivering prompts that she cuts out later in the process.
Courtney Money-McIntosh, StoryShare Coordinator, directs interview sessions. “It really is kind of a collaborative, cooperative experience with our partners," she said. “It’s just a conversation between two people. They can mess up. They can repeat. It doesn’t matter. It’s low pressure.” (Photo: Angela Wilhelmemail@example.com)
“It really is kind of a collaborative, cooperative experience with our partners," she said. “It’s just a conversation between two people. They can mess up. They can repeat. It doesn’t matter. It’s low pressure.”
After the recording is complete, the Amplified Media team edits the video to draw out clients' messages.
Kay wanted to work with nonprofits, so he asked each of the five staff members to nominate a nonprofit to receive free StoryShare sessions for a year. So far, Amplified Media is working with Homeward Bound, Welcome Table and Children First.
“I don’t have $30,000 to give to the community, but why not give our talents and our services?" he said. “That allows us the sustainability of partnering with really amazing people we otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to work with.”
Beth Russo, director of communication at Homeward Bound, a nonprofit dedicated to ending homelessness, said video promotion has worked well for the group in the past. Last year, its first video piece helped spread the word about a fundraiser that Russo called "incredibly successful."
"As a society, we’re really used to looking at screens to get information, but I think the reason (video) is most effective is because you’re looking at a human being talking," she said. “It puts a face to a story."
But because 92 percent of Homeward Bound's income goes to programming, StoryShare was out of reach — until Amplified Media offered it for free.
Russo recorded the first StoryShare video at the end of June, and she hopes to return with past and current clients. Finding clients who want to go on camera is a challenge, she explained. Many homeless people have jobs and families and don't want to draw attention to their housing troubles, she said.
But when they do speak, their stories move people. She hopes to connect with the right client for the StoryShare platform.
"Their stories are all just unique and different, and usually when people hear about those stories or see those stories they realize, one, that we can solve this problem and, two, we have to unite to do it," she said.
Amplified Media is at 372 Depot St. For more information about StoryShare and other Amplified programs, visit amplified-media.com/storyshare.