- Posted by Poston Communications
- On May 12, 2020
- public relations, video
Thanks to social distancing, many journalists are using video conferencing services in lieu of face-to-face, on-camera interviews. And because journalists are spread thin and are pressed for time, COVID-19 is a great time to produce your own Video News Release or VNR. A video news release is content you produce that is ready to roll (pun intended!) for journalists to use as part of their storytelling. Perhaps you have expert advice about how office designs will change in a world with social distancing or guidance for employers on returning to the office. These are perfect opportunities for VNRs that deliver content right into a reporter’s inbox.
It may sound daunting, but creating your own VNR from home is simple, and we offer this five-step guide:
- Deliver message points in soundbites. Write out your key three to five points you want to deliver and practice, practice, practice! Keep in mind that the journalist on the receiving end of your VNR will use your interview to convey information about a complex topic, and you want the viewer to be able to easily synthesize it. To that end, keep it conversational. Avoid technical words or industry jargon – just speak simply and plainly and pause for a few seconds after each soundbite. This will allow the editing process to be a lot easier for the newsroom.
- Find the right background and light source. You want to find a neutral background in your house that provides a nice backdrop, but one that is not distracting. Avoid setting up right in front of a wall; instead, put things behind you – perhaps your fireplace or a nice piece of art. Do not set up with a window behind you, or you will become a silhouette. Instead, turn around and let the window light you. (See our previous post with lighting advice, too, and consider investing in a small ring light if you’re going to take on more than one VNR.)
- Set up the right angle. You want the camera lens at eye level, not below and not too far above. If shooting on a phone (which is preferable), record in landscape versus portrait and use a tripod. Sure, a reporter would except an interview where you are looking at the camera, but ideally, for interview purposes and a creative element, utilize the rule of thirds. One note: This shot will feel awkward because you would have to look off to the side of the camera at an imaginary person to deliver your messages; but this is how traditional interview shots produced by broadcasters are framed. (Pro tip: Ask a family member to stand to the side to engage with you to make the experience more natural.)
- Sound check. Your shot ,might be perfect, but if the audio is poor, it won’t be used by a newsroom. Minimize background noise and use a lavalier microphone positioned just below the chin (on a lapel or collar) and tuck in the mic cord. If you do not have that option, try to do your recording in a carpeted space or bring in an area rug from another room, if needed, to reduce the echo.
- Package for a polished product. Instead of just sending raw footage to reporters – in other words, your outtakes and video of you turning on and off your camera – send only what you would want to air. Every computer comes equipped with a basic editing system where you can trim your clips easily. We also recommend putting a black slate or title card at the beginning, spelling out your name, company or firm and your title (as you want it to appear on-air) and leave it up for about :05 seconds.