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Q: I run a PR and marketing company and one of my clients, a charity which runs care homes for elderly people, wants to produce a DVD basically giving a tour of the facilities and interviewing staff.

A promotional tool if you like to tell people about who they are and what they do.

What ideas can you suggest?

Managing Director
PR Agency
West Midlands

A: Looking at retirement homes and promotional DVD.

The promotional video needs to be persuasive enough to convert Mum (daughter Mum) from a brochure reader to an active enquirer needing a personal visit.

Since you have a few care homes, it’s the brand as much as the homes that do the selling job.

It’s a brand is supported by a choice of locations.

You only need an 8 minute video programme to get this marketing message across in a convincing way.

Showing more runtime often results in less.

And you end up with dilution, less gunpowder in the fireworks, stretching video runtime in order to please your client who may think “more is more”.

What will help is to see younger self-referring patients and Mums speaking on camera as voxpops, testifying to the fact that the homes really are as caring and quality-driven as they’re cracked up to be.

As a video storyline, I’d be tending to wrap it around a Day in the Life because:

> It pitches real life, helping Mum (the daughter) to imagine what it’s really like

> It doesn’t hinge on retirement homes. It hinges on brand, care and medical levels.

> It provides a clear start and end to the story, from morning to night.

> Meals / medication / activities are the real daily story for the elderly, especially those with dementia.

I would also advise against the owner-to-camera route, where we hear the owner and maybe staff talking on camera about how good they are.

Even with a teleprompt, these talking heads often come out looking very middling, as they rely on non-TV professionals to make a promotional pitch.

Better to hear Mums and patients, with professional voiceover (female, soft, caring) guiding us through the story.

Day in the Life

I’d advise hiring one or two actors, a male and a female to play the part of elderly people in the “Day in the Life” video production.

The reason for suggesting professional actors is that many old people tend to look a bit decrepit on close camera.

They’re okay for a mix of shots, but not for closely following around.

Genuine old folks often look quite creased and unphotogenic. They gasp a lot. This isn’t meant as any way unkind. It’s just the experience I’ve had in filming the elderly.

By contrast, with actors you get old people who look more vigorous, happier, and more suited to their life in a rest home.

Actors can speak to camera too:

“I was unhappy living at home because things were getting to be a bit much for me to look after.

It’s much better now. I haven’t the the worry.

And I already had 2 friends here who I knew, which made it less of a jump into the unknown.

They even let me come and visit a couple of times in the afternoon before I moved in.

Nothing was too much trouble for them”

What price lines like these?

They prove the client’s business claims, and eliminate the doubts that care homes are secretly stalags in disguise”


You could add a few Mum voxpops too:

“As soon as I first came in the home I could feel it was a caring atmosphere.

I could sense it.

And I’d been worrying that they wouldn’t look after Mum as well as they said they would.

But they do.

And I’m ever so glad.

I have no hesitation in recommending them to anyone who’s worried about their Mum”

or things like

“My Dad needs a lot of care. There’s not much he can do any more for himself.

Here (waves arm) they have the staff and they have the facilities that Dad needs, so he can enjoy more of what time he’s got left.”

Voxpop soundbites like these are priceless.

They prove the case. QED, Bang. Done. Sorted!


A small cast of actors, and a few Mums on camera will do all the selling you need on your promotional DVD.

This can be packaged into a Day In The Life storyline set in a retirement home.

You’ll make more sales this way because when the buyer (Mum or Mum’s Mum) is sitting at home comparing brochures and DVDs from competitors, a number of things will stand out:

> Your client’s retirement home looks happier

> They talk to Mum about the issues she cares about about, instead make the same old me-too promises.

> She’ll like your DVD. It’ll be more watchable.

In a word, Mum will TRUST you.

These are the sort of ideas that spring to mind for a retirement home promotional video.

© Studio Rossiter 2009

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