Lights, camera, action or no action?

Lights, camera, action or no action?

Ben Brigham

Ben Brigham

Have you heard of the ‘Corn kid’ trend on TikTok at the moment? Yeh, neither have I. My background is in corporate video and that’s more my bag.

But whatever type of video we’re talking about, our world is becoming dominated by it. Smart phones and social media have transformed the way we ingest our media, and as a society we are increasingly looking to video to keep us informed and entertained - the average person watches 100 minutes of video every day. The corporate communications world is no exception, with 86% of businesses using video as a marketing tool.

Be aware of optics

This focus on video content may lead to firms attempting to utilise it at every opportunity, constantly looking for ways to get spokespeople on film, whether it be informal interviews, or formal pieces to camera. However, it is crucial to always take a step back and ask, is a video appropriate here? In the wake of Prince Andrew’s car crash of an interview with Emily Maitlis in 2019, I can imagine there being a certain amount of regret from his entourage as to the path they chose to take.

Often, putting someone in front of the camera to discuss a sensitive topic, such as one that could negatively impact a firm or a person’s reputation, opens you up to many things that you may not be able to control and as a result can be extremely damaging.

Different circumstances, different needs

The key is to be very clear about what you are trying to achieve. When a message needs to be delivered to provide reassurance, confidence or even hope, a connection with the audience is critical to its success. Think of that fateful day back in March 2020 – if Boris had sent everyone an email telling us to stay in our homes, I’m not sure it would have had the desired effect. In this instance it is imperative to be prepared, confident and to the point. This is where a carefully crafted script and lots of practice comes in, as well as ensuring that whoever is delivering the piece, especially if tools like autocue are being used, is adequately media trained and charismatic enough to deliver the message effectively.

However, other instances, such as a video to raise a business expert or company profile, call for another approach. For example, this may work as a sit-down interview where often the mistake that is made, counter intuitive as it may be, is to be too prepared. Everyone reacts differently on camera – sometimes the most confident and polished people do not transmit that same aura when being filmed. The key is authenticity and audiences are increasingly adept at noticing a rehearsed line or a lack of passion.

These few tips will help keep your spokespeople confident and engaging, regardless of their experience:

  • Keep the interview conversational. A strict Q&A can feel like an interrogation, putting the interviewee on edge, and not able to open up
  • Beforehand, send prompts and broad topics, not a set list of questions. Your spokespeople are experts at what they do, and if given the chance to speak openly, will bring insight in an accessible and informative way. If strict questions are sent, the tendency is for people to overprepare, meaning their answers can come across as wooden and uninspiring
  • Make sure to warm up. You wouldn’t dive straight into a strenuous workout without giving your body prep. An interview is no different. The trick is to ease into it
  • Think about setting. If you are wanting the audience to connect with your spokesperson, consider filming them in their home, or in a place that resonates with them, in order to create that bond

Every day we see videos of all forms done well and done badly. I won’t be giving you advice on the latest TikTok trends, but to produce inspiring video content, always be sure of who you are dealing with, the audience involved and what you are trying to achieve.

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