May 04, 2011

Video Tips: Translating Great Stories to Video

Finding the story hook that will connect with your audience is crucial to any publicity campaign, and is especially important when creating video to bring a story to life.  Generally speaking, looking for the angles that will excite, entertain and/or inform your audiences will increase the likelihood that the content you produce is valued by your audience.

I had the opportunity to chat with Marc Newman, a divisional vice president with PR Newswire’s MultiVu division, and a 20+ year veteran of the video production industry, about things to keep in mind when you’re planning a video project.

Offer unique perspective (literally.)

Over the years, PR Newswire has created numerous video projects for Six Flags, many of which feature dramatic footage of the company’s bevy of roller coasters.  Footage shot from the vantage point of a rider in the front car is exciting and fun to watch, affording viewers at home a taste of the ride experience.  For a recent project, however, the perspective was changed to include shots backward, at the passengers, as they rode the ride for the first time – and for an extra twist, the live segments included reports in the front seats, providing commentary during the ride to the anchor teams back in the studio.

Facilitate ease-of-use and editing:

This change in perspective really worked, and the live reporting from the front of the roller coaster made great TV.  Reporters were handed USB memory sticks with MPEG4 video from their rides – including forward-facing footage as well – just minutes after the coaster glided to a stop. The resulting media coverage was tremendous, and the content was provided at no cost to the media covering the story, who could then edit the video as they desired.

Simplify (and illustrate) the complex:

Another example Mark gave was of a semiconductor company, whose communications are generally highly technical and complex.   Video featuring engineers offering simplified explanations of new technologies and an animations illustrating how new semiconductors work have been invaluable in making the company’s messages clearer and more accessible to other important audiences, such as mainstream media, investors and employees, who may not be engineers and aren’t terribly well versed in all aspects of semiconductor development.    In this case, the animations really make the difference.  However, if you don’t have access to animations,  infographics can be effective too.

Capitalize on common experience, and use it to showcase differences:

New York City taxi cabs.  If you have ever ridden in one, chances are that phrase conjured some pretty distinct imagery as you read it.  And that imagery probably doesn’t include spacious interiors made brighter by panoramic sunroofs, eco-friendly engines and non-intrusive horns.  The juxtaposition of what so many of us have experienced in a taxi in New York against the bright new reality unveiled this week by Mayor Bloomberg when he showed the world thefuture of the New York cab made for compelling video that made you stop and say, “Wow, that is cool.”  The unique vehicle, designed especially for New York City by Nissan, is a head-turner.

While it’s true that not every communicator is lucky enough to be publicizing fun new roller coasters or innovative new cars, keeping these tips in mind will help you make the most of the visuals you produce to support your publicity campaigns.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.

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