After a recent afternoon at “Video Boot Camp” at the University of Washington School of Communications, I am determined to do more to help our clients tell their stories in ways that have impact and get noticed. That means shooting more and better video and photos. Just to be clear, three important forces have made this more important than ever.

  • First, technology has made it possible for us to capture what goes on in words, sounds, and pictures in real time.  The news media has adapted to this change, but too many organizations and individuals (like me) can’t seem to break through this barrier in telling their own stories. We’re still looking for “perfect.” That explains why the content on so many company websites is static, boring and outdated and why companies miss chances to be seen.
  • Second, the attention span of audiences continues to shrink as we bombard them with information in a variety of channels.  We have to tell our stories in ways that push the limits in terms of creativity, innovation and brevity.
  • Finally, the decline of the mass market means we have to reach critical audiences in smaller groups.  We have to appeal to their specific interests and passions; engaging them in multiple conversations about our story in multiple places like Facebook, Twitter, and our websites.

At a recent social media presentation, representatives of national PR firm Edelman said public relations will take place with “micro-interactions.”  Public relations pros will need to focus on many conversations and concluded that audience mind set is less important than individual mindset.
This idea is full circle to “Video Boot Camp.” To get there you need to start shooting, editing and posting.   So here are some random common sense tips from the pros. Use the ones you like and ignore the others, but grab a camera and a microphone and get to work. I’ll be out there with you.

  • Shoot at face level – it looks more natural if you are on the same plane as your subject.
  •  Leave space between your subject and the wall, fence or other background.
  •  Look for an uncluttered background and find one that will feel comfortable.
  •  Have the subject look at you, not the camera.
  •  Help them by giving encouraging verbal cues so they know they are doing ok.
  • Ask two part questions so they can get into the flow of the conversation.
  • Pay close attention to sound quality. That usually means having a secondary mike and testing it before you start.
  • Think about your script, audio and video as separate elements.
  • Even if the subject doesn’t have a written script, outline what you want to accomplish.
  • Shoot lots and lots of “B” roll to make the shot more interesting.
  • Engage your subjects by shooting up close and personal. That’s not just a good tip for video. Even for print interviews, make sure you are connecting with the person you are talking to.