This week in New York, we had the pleasure of working with over a dozen journalists from Haymarket Media, the group that publishes several marketing, media and PR trades, including one of leading publications in our industry, PR Week. These outlets are increasingly offering great digital content, including video, for their readers in the form of in-office interviews, conversations at big industry conferences as well as Periscope roundtables. With PR Week Editor in Chief Steve Barrett aware of my background in broadcast journalism, he extended an invite to lead a two-hour session on how to become more comfortable and confident on camera, as well as how to make video content look top notch.

Here are some tips I shared with the group:

PRINT JOURNALISTS SHOULD EMBRACE VIDEO
Video helps build a reporter’s brand by putting a face and personality to a byline. Just like the “voice” of one’s twitter account, a video presence makes a journalist more relatable and distinguishes his or her voice from that of colleagues or competitors. The presenter can make their words truly their own by delivering them in the tone and with the emphasis they intended when they wrote a piece.

ACE THE ON-CAMERA INTRO AND WRAP

Transitioning from the on-camera intro to a live interview with the host and guest sitting right next to one another can be awkward if the host hasn’t done it before or isn’t comfortable on camera. Same for transitioning from the final answer to the on-camera wrap. As a rule, the host should get to the interview as soon as possible—especially in a short three minute video. After introducing himself, the host should introduce the guest by name, title and organization, then capture the essence of the interview in one sentence before asking the first question. When wrapping, the conversation should be summed up in a sentence or two. At the very least, the host should thank the guest and viewers for watching before a simple farewell, such as “We’ll see you next time.”

CONSIDER YOUR AUDIENCE

Who is the audience for a particular video? If it’s a wide consumer audience, it’s best to skip the jargon. If it’s an industry or business-to-business audience, including some jargon will be expected and elevates the content in the eyes of viewers.

Everyone on camera should avoid doing anything the viewer may find distracting. That means the host should face the camera when speaking to viewers and look at the guest when engaged in an interview. To be a gracious host, wait until the guest is done answering before asking the next question so not to step on their words. Also, a lot of interviewers forget to listen. Ask smart follow-up questions, otherwise the host is doing viewers a disservice.

As a prompt for names or questions, I recommend using an index card or even a smartphone or tablet. Paper is flimsy and can make unwanted noise, nor does it look professional.

MAKE VIDEOS LOOK PROFESSIONAL

Shooting video indoors is almost always more ideal than shooting outdoors, as there is no wind, sun or precipitation to contend with. When indoors, a newsroom is typically better than a plain, white-walled, sterile conference room. An active environment can also help establish credibility when the viewer expects to see a busy newsroom.

I, personally, am a big fan of the wireless lavalier microphone over the more traditional “stick” mic to promote a more natural environment and conversation. Lastly, if there is natural light flowing into the room that is being used for a video shoot, make sure it’s on the guest’s face and that they’re not backlit. Better to have someone squinting and well-lit than having their eyes wide open with shadow falling across his or her entire face.

PRACTICE AND PREPARE BEFORE GOING ON-CAMERA

It can be in the shower, but better in front of a mirror and even better on smartphone video that can easily be played back. That way, one can see what works and what doesn’t work in order to perfect on-camera delivery.

We hope you find these tips helpful. Thanks again to the journalists and editors at Haymarket Media!