Oct 26, 2012

Ask PRN: How to script a PR or marketing video

Every Friday afternoon, we’ll answer a question we hear commonly from our customers about some aspect of public relations or marketing. 

Planning a family vacation?  It’s unlikely you’re just going to jump in the car or show up at the airport and literally wing it. Instead, you’re going to plan, pick your destination, make sure the kids are off from school, and book a hotel that has something for everyone in your clan.

Successful videos are similar in this regard. It’s essential to plan the trip you want your audience to take before jumping into a script— destination unknown.

Creating a good PR or marketing video campaign requires the same attention. It’s essential to plan the trip you want your audience to take before jumping into a script.

As a producer, I’m used to fast turnarounds where a client hands me his materials and  ideas and I whittle everything down into a script with b-roll and sound bite.  But as we in the industry are faced with more and more clients in search of content that evokes real emotion, rather than just a news report, I’m finding myself looking at the creative GPS, searching for the Valhalla of creative content.

Enter The Creative Treatment – a tool script writers have been using for years, and why? Because it works.  A treatment is a one page concise compilation of an idea– the itinerary for the video you will eventually create. The reason why it’s such a useful tool is because it allows you to present your idea to the client creatively without assembling a script that may not be what they’re looking for.  The treatment is a client check point, if you will.  Many of us have been in the position where we’ve sent our client a script or an edit we’ve worked on for days only to find out they don’t share our enthusiasm.  These things happen of course, and while the treatment doesn’t guarantee it won’t happen again, it does at least give everyone the ability to work out the kinks and get to the core of what is desired before getting too far along in the process.

The treatment consists of four parts (see example above) and with this we can present our ability to conceptualize a unique idea, respond to client needs, and be, hopefully, better producers.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one,” said Mark Twain.  It’s good advice for anyone building a content strategy.


Type of Video (Webisode, Training Video etc.)

Prepared for: (Job name/client)


A short summary of the background information client provided on a call or with background materials


A bulleted list of the videos behavioral objectives aka the goal you wish to accomplish with this video…It can begin with “After experiencing this video our audience will be able to: and then the list


A bulleted list of what will be done in terms of structure, devices and techniques. For example: Create the behind the scenes feel using several GoPro cameras etc.

Creative Approach:

Finally the place to present your creative idea. Should be a one paragraph present tone narrative using detailed descriptions to set the tone and the style of your video. For example: We are bombarded with the sounds of a busy city street as the faces of its hurried inhabitants stop to stare in curiosity etc.

Like the idea of using online video, but need some help getting started? Our free white paper, Building Engagement with Online Video, is loaded with ideas and case studies to help you get your video projects underway.

Author Jill Wax is a producer for MultiVu, a PR Newswire company that specializes in multimedia creation, production and distribution.

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