toniparras's blog

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Coming off the heels of the Hawai‘i Conservation Conference, I am left with mixed emotions. On the one hand, I was even more devastated than usual by the evidence experts laid bare about the seemingly insurmountable problems facing our natural world, our oceans in particular. On the other hand, I encountered some of the most passionate, optimistic and – this is what makes all the difference – radical thinkers, that I slowly began to feel a small stirring of hope. But still, I feel that it is going to take more than that to help lift me out of my state-of-the-environment depression. I have become quite jaded over the years, and I have been all too aware that I was becoming frighteningly despondent, nearly giving in and giving up. Just like much of the world.

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By Toni Parras, Communications Professional, toniparras [at] yahoo.com

Since the beginning of my career, I have been asked to help organizations “tell their stories” and “get their stories told.”  What does that mean exactly? 

In every culture, stories are used to educate, entertain, and convey genealogy.  Whatever its function, storytelling is an art.  A good story is entertaining, moving – it can make us laugh, cry, ponder and, sometimes, lead us to take action.

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By Toni Parras, Communications Professional, toniparras [at] yahoo.com

I know, it sounds like the title to a self-help book, but it’s true.  I’ve seen it time and again – organizations expend vast amounts of resources to promote themselves before they’ve even cultivated and internalized their image within their own organization.  In this age of fast, and often social, media demands, it may be that we are rushing headlong into campaigning without fully understanding what it is we’re promoting. 

Branding is not just something for big corporations like Coca-Cola and Microsoft.  NGOs – whether in the marine or terrestrial realm – have to think about their image beyond simply having a nice logo.  Their image, values and messages must be well-integrated into the organization's operations and staff’s mindset. 

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By Toni Parras, Communications Professional, toniparras [at] yahoo.com

One of the first posters I ever bought when I was younger (aside from teenage heartthrob pop stars) was the one of a harp seal pup, its luminous eyes pleading at the camera, seemingly begging the viewer to stop the slaughter for their fluffy white fur.  Almost everyone I knew either owned or had seen that image. 

And then there was the mock commercial of a glamorous woman getting out of a limousine at a red carpet event, decked out in jewels and a mink boa. When she slung the boa around her shoulder in slow motion, blood squirted out and splattered onto the crowd, who cried out in horror.  It was a PSA against the fur trade, and was ultimately pulled for being too disturbingly graphic (even though that was the whole point).  That video came out before its time.

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Posted on October 17, 2012 - 1:48pm, by toniparras

By Toni Parras, Communications Professional, toniparras [at] yahoo.com

Inform. Demonstrate. Persuade.  Assuming your purposes for filming are similar to ones I’ve encountered in my years of marine conservation work, the following are some tips for documenting project activities (issues, site overview, workshops, interviews, etc.) on video. 

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Posted on September 4, 2012 - 4:05pm, by toniparras

By Toni Parras, Communications Professional, toniparras [at] yahoo.com

Are you a marine resource manager?  Are you a filmmaker?  Who says you can’t be both?

Many conservation efforts today use imagery in some form, at some level, in support of their efforts.  From high-end, high-definition video and photography down to the point-and-shoot variety, cameras can greatly aid in getting your message across.

But where to start if you’ve never taken to the shutter before?  Not to worry: with today’s advanced camera technology, even the most shutter-shy can produce credible results with a basic, inexpensive point-and-shoot camera. 

It’s really more about the technique than the gear — the message more than expertise.  With a few simple tips to help you get started, you will be on your way to advancing your marine conservation efforts:

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By Toni Parras, Communications Professional, toniparras [at] yahoo.com

If a picture says a thousand words, then video says….well, you do the math.

Despite being dependent on marine resources for sustenance and livelihood, many coastal residents don't ever see the state of the underwater habitat on which those resources depend.  All they know is that the fish, shellfish and other marine species that are coming up out of the water are smaller and scarcer than in times past.
 
The story of a colleague I met through the Locally-Managed Marine Area Network — a group of practitioners working on community-based marine management efforts throughout the Indo-Pacific — offers a particularly good example of the power of video to inform people’s understanding and even change minds.

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