Top tips for using video for PR
You may have little experience, or just a year or two under your belt. You may not have an expensive camera. You may not know how to use the one you’ve got very well. This might be your first time making a video and you might not have a crew behind you.
But none of that matters. Because this guide will help you figure out what you need to focus on if you want to make a video for your PR campaign.
Whether it’s a piece to camera, vox pops, a corporate video production about your client’s culture and values or an animated explainer video extolling the virtues of their latest product or service, this advice will help you get to grips with the essentials.
Before you point the camera at anyone or anything, you need to think about your communication strategy and how your video fits into it. And in relation to your video, you need to think about the purpose, place, audience, content and success.
What’s it for and why is video the answer? What are you hoping video will achieve for you compared to other media formats?
- Video is the richest format for sure: it has sound, light and movement, but that doesn’t automatically mean it’s the right medium to convey your message.
Where is your video going to be seen and how will that affect how it’s made and its content?
- Creating a video for YouTube, or the About page on your client’s website is very different from creating a video for a major news network.
Who is your video for and what interests them? This can be very different from what you might think is interesting. You have to imagine what your audience will find interesting, and that means putting yourself in their shoes. Understand their perspective, then turn that perspective on its head, because that’s what makes it interesting and engaging.
- And think about who you’re pitching it to, as in, the person who might buy it or use it. They are a secondary, but critical audience.
The golden rule for content – especially news-worthy content – is that it must be interesting, new and relevant. Those are broad concepts, but they can be boiled down to one thing: why should someone care about your video?
How does your video shed new light on an issue, or explain something in a way that helps them understand? How does it surprise people? How does it relate to – contrast and complement – the existing perception of an issue or your client’s brand, product or service?
- What thoughts, feelings and actions are you hoping to elicit?
- And is it ethical?
How will you measure your video’s success? What outcome are you looking for when they’re done watching? Do you want them to click through to your client’s website? Cheer and laugh in delight? Change their mind? Take to the streets?
Equipment and Practicalities
You don’t need the latest hi-tech equipment
If you have an iPhone or iPad, that will do for now. You have to make the most of what you’ve got. Just be smart about it. Plus, the editing programs that come with your Operating System – iMovie or Windows Movie Maker for example – are incredibly powerful compared to what they were a few years ago and can do a perfectly good job if you know how to use them.
Do you need permission?
From members of the public, local authorities and anyone else who might not want to be filmed or who might need to give you formal permission e.g. if you’re filming on company premises, you might need to ask your client to inform any employees who might be in the background of your shot and ask them to complete consent forms to be filmed.
If you’re not sure if you need permission, ask.
If you don’t have a handheld microphone, boom or lavaliere, you can use your mobile’s earphones. Just tuck the ear pieces out of sight and leave the mic outside your shirt.
If you’re filming a Q&A with someone, but without an interviewer, you may need to ask them to repeat the question as part of their answer, because otherwise the audience might not have a clue about the context of their answer.
Where’s the sun or other light source coming from? Is that creating a weird reflection or making the presenter blink? Get the sun behind you and watch out for anything that reflects like badges and glasses.
Who’s in the background?
And what are they holding or doing? Sometimes passersby will deliberately try to photobomb your shot, and protesters and activists are well aware of what to do: holding placards with slogans on.
Scenes and editing
Don’t pan and don’t zoom unless you know this is essential to convey your message. If you want to get a closer shot, get closer with your feet. If you’re pitching the video to news teams, don’t add your own graphics with names and titles on to your footage, add it to the end using placards held by each person.
- Make it quick and easy for someone else – especially news teams – to use without editing if possible.
Pitching Your Video
- You can pitch it to more than one person at the same time.
- Keep your intro short: how would you describe your video if it were a headline and subtitle – what’s the one-line hook? Editors get hundreds of emails and calls a day and they want you to be direct and clear.
- Tell them if you’re offering it to them as an exclusive or if it’s for everyone and anyone.
- Don’t email the video – email them an FTP link to it e.g. via We Transfer or Dropbox to the footage.
- Only send your best edit and keep it to a minute and a half, unless you know a longer piece is needed.
- Tell them who is in the video and their role, to help avoid any bias or potential conflicts of interest.
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