Don’t let the hair fool you. I know about video – a lot about video. Aside from my decades in a television newsroom as a reporter and news anchor, I’ve also run a video production company since 2006. My company has shot hundreds of hours of video – we even have it distributed. Our shows have aired in over 50 countries. And as someone who’s interviewed everyone from hurricane victims to US Senators – thousands and thousands of people… (I know, I know, I’m starting to sound like Carl Sagan as a teenager) – I’ve found there’s a consistent, fundamental difference in the way “PR People” do video. And it’s not good.
MUST STOP #1: Stop Making Your Executives Memorize Their Lines
Unless your CEO is a former television actor, stop making him or her memorize their lines. You can give him “talking points” as a guide, but keep in mind this is not a live television interview, and you can always start over, or simply keep the camera rolling and edit out what you don’t like. If you don’t get what you need in an answer, or if she stumbles, just ask the question again in a different way. You will eventually get what you need and your executive will come across looking relaxed and genuine – as you would if you were sitting down and having a conversation with her right now.
MUST STOP #2: Stop Shooting Your Subjects from Below
Your boss isn’t heavy, but for some reason, looks so on camera. Why? Does he or she not have a face for camera? Frankly, the only reason your boss looks heavy, dull-eyed, drunk or confused is the fault of the videographer. Let me tell you – unless your boss is, in fact, a chubby alcoholic, then it is entirely possible he could look much, much better on TV.
Ask your video production company, or photographer, what kind of lighting kit they have. You can skimp by with just one light if you have to, but it can’t be the light on top of the camera, unless you want it to look like she’s being hunted down in her office as part of an investigative story. If the answer from your photographer is, “Uh, you want lights?” then get someone else.
Keep the camera at the proper angle. Have the lens – not the eyepiece of the camera (which is a few inches shorter depending on the camera) but the actual lens – an inch or two above eye level for your executive. That way, they will look like the professional they are without the “crazy eyes.” If you don’t believe me, hold up your iPhone at your eye level and take a picture. Move it down two inches and up two inches and repeat. Compare the three pictures and you will see what I’m talking about.
MUST STOP #3: Stop Undressing Your Executives
There’s a saying in TV – to make sure you “dress the mics” or “dress the set.” What does this mean? That you hide the mic wires, make sure there is no makeup on your exec’s shirt (bring an extra one, please), and don’t leave that ugly garbage can in the background.
How many times have you seen a squiggly cable hanging down a shirt, or a wayward hair sticking up? It’s hard not to notice these things, since the standard for TV is a well-kept person who brushes their hair and wears a clean shirt.