Every 7 Seconds Matters – How To Move the Masses with Invisible Children Co-Founder Jason Russell

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This episode is presented by Feathr – Nonprofits of all shapes and sizes use Feathr’s digital marketing tools to increase awareness, engage donors, promote events, and hit fundraising goals. Feathr provides a central place to manage digital advertising, email marketing, and peer-to-peer campaigns, as well as build ads, landing pages, and more. Click here to learn more.

Jason Russell is a creative director powerhouse and the visionary behind viral videos for Invisible Children’s KONY 2012 which amassed a staggering 103 million views on YouTube, and charity: water, which skyrocketed their monthly donors from 800 to over 70,000.

During our conversation today, Jason gets into the nitty gritty of his video creation process, including the key components that make up a piece of content to inspire action. We also debunk the myths about video length and how to be really creative with your marketing and media budget. It was an honor for me to host this conversation – let’s go!

How to move an audience and bring a story to life

When Jason starts a new project, he’s always looking for the most compelling narrative. What will it take to move people?

As storytellers, we may shrink at the idea of showcasing our missteps, vulnerabilities, and failures. But it’s these exact elements that create connection, a deeper meaning, and a more epic story.

At the very beginning of a story, you want to make people laugh. Laughter creates relatability and cracks your audience open to embark on a rollercoaster ride. Then you want to move into a low point. Bring the hero and the characters to a stuck place where they can’t get out. By the end, there should be a moment of redemption or success – a victory they can celebrate after overcoming their challenges.

In the discovery phase, Jason invites his clients to share 10-30 different people who can reveal why they’re involved with the program, what challenges they see, and their vision for a brighter future. By uncovering these perspectives, commonalities emerge and the possible narrative for a story starts to take shape.

Short form marketing and maintaining your originality

We’re living in a crazy digital age where our attention spans are not quite what they used to be, especially in younger generations. At the same time, we’re glued to our phones and are frequently binge watching shows on Netflix, or a longer form series like Game of Thrones that somehow holds our attention!

Jason highlights that short-form content is almost always better. You can make a super compelling 30 second piece, but you can also make something just as engaging that’s longer.

The first few seconds of your story are mission critical. Get to the heart of the story as quickly as possible and skip the rhetorical questions.

Jason’s other piece of advice?

Think the opposite of what everyone else is doing in your space. Really good marketing is risky. If everyone in your space is talking about a global issue in a particular way, how can you talk about it differently?

That’s not to say you can’t forge inspiration from others. Gather all of the videos, campaigns, and social media posts that have recently inspired you. Soak all of that in to create your own, original spin on it. 

And remember, pulling back the curtain is what your audience wants. More than ever, we crave that invitation to get a peek behind the scenes.

Leveraging your audience and taking a grassroots approach

When your beautiful film documentary is ready for its debut, there needs to be a clear launch and distribution plan.

The best first step is to leverage the audience you already have. Reach out to your biggest supporters and personally tell them how they can help. Beyond that, you have politicians, news outlets, influencers, and celebrities you can tap into.

Consider hosting a personal screening at a University or a local business to build more buzz. This type of grassroots approach is how Invisible Children grew. Over ten years, they built up a crew of over 5 million people who became so attached to the movement and knew that their efforts were making a difference.

Invest in an amazing creative team who will do the work for you. It matters.

Notable Quotes from Jason

“You have to think the opposite of what everyone else is doing in your space. It’s scary to do, and it takes a risk, but most good marketing is risky.”


“The biggest mistake individuals make when they’re creating content is making it long. You can always make it shorter, and the shorter one is almost always better because you get to the point.”


“The movie will tell us what it wants. It might be 8 minutes, it might be 24 minutes. If the content is compelling, it can be whatever length it needs to be.”


“The greatest thing you can do is invest in your story.”

Resources & Links

This episode is presented by Feathr – Expand your reach, further your mission. Use Feathr’s digital marketing tools to increase awareness, boost online donations, promote events, recruit volunteers, and ultimately do more good. Learn More. 

FREE Webinar: The Top 5 “Set It and Forget It” Marketing Tips for Building Momentum During the Summer on May 19th at 2 pm ET | 11 am PT with Feathr’s President and Co-founder Aidan Augustin and Dana Snyder. Click here to RSVP!

Follow Jason at his agency, Broomstick Engine, where he partners with brands and organizations to tell their story and learn more about his children’s book, A Little Radical. Want to work with Jason? Email him at jason@broomstickengine.com

Watch Invisible Children’s viral KONY 2012 campaign video, The Spring, a charity: water story, and Preemptive Love’s Love Anyway.

Jason’s book recommendations include Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite by Paul Arden and Purple Cow: Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable by Seth Godin.

Check out my NEW $27 mini course, Visible Reach In A Week. In 30 minutes, you’ll learn how to create a $3 a day ad campaign that will drive brand awareness with your supporters.

Want to make Missions to Movements even better? Take a screenshot of this episode and share it on Instagram. Be sure to tag @positivequation so I can connect with you.

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