STEP tries multimedia with video campaign

Giving up their Valentine’s Day was not the only sacrifice STEP volunteers made for their newest video. The students also had to clear their set — the Sigma Phi Epsilon house — of empty beer cans.

The Student Taskforce for Environmental Partnership will release the second video in its three-part series, “Take the Pledge,” on Wednesday. The humorous and lighthearted series, which debuted last month, goes beyond STEP’s traditional publicity efforts to promote energy-conserving behavior by using new media such as YouTube, producer and STEP coordinator Victoria Charette ’11 said.

The second installment in STEP’s video series enlightens students about how to defrost their refrigerators.
Courtesy ofSTEP
The second installment in STEP’s video series enlightens students about how to defrost their refrigerators.

“Instead of postering and inundating students’ inboxes with e-mails, [the STEP energy team] is seeking out new and exciting ways to reach the student body to convey the very simple message: It’s easy to save energy,” Charette said.

Although all five STEP coordinators interviewed said they thought the first video was successful, Bolhack said she hoped more cohesive e-mailing and strategic Facebooking would draw more attention to Wednesday’s release.

Out just in time for spring break, STEP co-Director Sophie Wolfram ’10 said the newest video will show students how to defrost their refrigerators before leaving campus.

But the videos are not just dry, inaccessible how-to manuals.

Instead, they show students pledging a fictional “green” fraternity, combining humor with a serious message.

In addition to providing practical tips, the video series highlights two ongoing sustainable campaigns: the Pledge, an initiative started last spring by the Office of Sustainability to encourage students and faculty to take pledges to reduce their energy use, and Project Lux, an intramural competition designed to reduce electricity consumption.

The idea for the video campaign began with a conversation over winter break, as STEP co-directors Wolfram and Jessica Bolhack ’11 pondered new ways to reach students.

“When you feel like you sound like a broken record, it’s time to reach people in a different way,” Bolhack said. “So we decided to mix up our approach and make it creative and goofy.”

Two weeks of script-writing — followed by two Saturdays spent filming and close to 20 hours of editing per video — has not deterred Charette and her team.

Steve Winter ’11, who plays Rushmaster Ronnie in the series, described the process behind making each video “a real marathon,” adding that the second video took seven straight hours of filming.

But actors and producer alike agree that the series — and even the filming process — is worth it.

“The time that we’ve invested in this project will be reflected in the impact the videos have on students, no matter how many or few,” Charette said.

The Office of Sustainability, which reviews and approves each video prior to its release, said STEP’s decision to communicate through a new medium will help them engage more students.

“None of it is rocket science,” said Robert Ferretti, education and outreach manager at the Office of Sustainability. “But STEP has been able to take the message and put it into a humorous, funny, engaging form.”

But Heather Soleau ’11, who watched the first video in the series, said the video’s length may have deterred some students from getting through it.

“I thought it was an interesting use of new media,” she said, “but I wasn’t sure that students would be able to find it or take the time to watch the whole thing.”

In addition to purely Internet-based publicity, Wolfram said STEP coordinators will table outside dining halls and pass out cards containing the video link as well as further instructions on defrosting refrigerators.

The third episode in the series will focus on saving energy used by computers, cell phones, iPods and other electronics, Charette said, and will debut on April 14.

Comments

  • umm

    What is a "STEP volunteer"? STEP coordinators are most defiintely paid.