4 common PR video blunders

Are your videos getting less attention? Here are four likely culprits and how to fix them.

Video first is the big trend of 2018.

That means video is now the public’s preferred method to consume information. It also means competition for eyeballs is greater than ever.

Here are four reasons why your videos might not be enjoying as many viewers in today’s content glut—and how to win back your audience:

1. Shooting without intent. “Too many people just grab a phone and start shooting,” says Drew Keller, a video producer at StoryGuide and content developer at Microsoft.

“That may seem like an ‘authentic’ thing to do,” he says, “but the only way to create a truly moving story with your video is to write it out first and shoot second.”

That doesn’t mean you necessarily have to write a script (sample) or storyboard (sample). “Just create a plan that tells you what to shoot,” says Keller.

Start by answering these questions before shooting:

  • Objective: What are you trying to accomplish with your story?
  • Audience: Whom are you trying to reach?
  • Top message: What is the simplest idea at the core idea of your story?
  • Essential shots: What concrete details and images can you include?
  • Evidence: What gives credibility to your story?
  • Emotion: What about your story would evoke an emotional response?
  • Proposed story narrative: In a short paragraph, write your story .

Register for Ragan’s Feb. 2 virtual summit “Video and Visual Strategy: Plan, Shoot and Share Like a Hollywood Studio” for more tips from Chris White and Sukhi Sahni (Capital One), Drew Keller (Microsoft), and Charlene Sarmiento and Mary Speed (Goodwill International).

2. Erring with audio. “Audio can be more important than video quality,” says Keller. “In fact, bad audio is a leading reason viewers stop watching.”

Smartphone mics don’t cut it. “They pick up wind and background noise,” says Keller. “At minimum, consider an inexpensive lavalier mic for about a hundred dollars.”

“Good audio is especially critical if you’re interviewing someone,” says Charlene Sarmiento, manager of marketing at Goodwill Industries International. “That’s why we use a lavalier mic for video interviews and this Rode smartphone lavalier mic when we’re recording audio-only for webinars.”

3. Skimping on editing. “Editing is the biggest time sinkhole,” says Drew Keller, a video producer at StoryGuide and Microsoft content developer, “but it’s critical, because it can save a so-so shoot if you have the right tools.”

What are your options?

“Adobe Premiere Elements and Sony Vegas are good easy-entry solutions,” he says. “Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro X, DavinciResolve and Avid Media Composer are more expensive professional options.”

The team at Goodwill uses iMovie, Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere. That doesn’t mean, however, that staffers have the time to edit all their own b-roll.

“We use freelance video editors because it saves time and stretches our video budget,” says Mary Speed, a digital media specialist at Goodwill. “We look for someone with good technical skills, good people skills and experience working with similar clients—not someone who will just stitch our videos together.”

She advises against working with student video editors or interns just to save money.

“Look instead for recommendations within your network,” says Speed. “You can also contact organizations with videos you like to see who they’d refer.”

4. Not checking the gate. “Checking the gate” traditionally meant clearing potential obstructions from an aperture before the film cycled through the camera. Today, it means ensuring your shot is free of distractions.

“Get in close to the viewfinder, and double-check your focus,” says Malone Media videographer Brian Malone. “Otherwise, you could zoom in on your footage in the editing stream and discover it was slightly out of focus. That’s hard to fix [in post-production].”

Also be aware of everything that’s in the frame.

For example, “A calendar or clock in the background can cause plenty of problems later,” Malone says. “That’s why you see videos where it looks like a minute hand is bouncing around in the background. The video was edited, and it’s distracting.”

Brian Pittman is a Ragan Communications consultant and webinar manager. Chris White and Sukhi Sahni (Capital One), Drew Keller (Microsoft), and Charlene Sarmiento and Mary Speed (Goodwill) will reveal more video tips in PR University’s Feb. 2 virtual summit, “Video and Visual Strategy: Plan, Shoot and Share Like a Hollywood Studio.”

(Image via)

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