Are You Content With Your Content?
Until last month, I didn’t usually teach people TV production techniques. I know all about them, for sure. I worked in BBC News & Current Affairs for fifteen years, so it would be a bit odd if I didn’t. Usually, my work with clients focuses on advanced communication, presentation, influence and persuasion. But it just so happened that three times last month, clients asked me if I could lend a hand to some of the people who work in their content creation teams. I did – and here’s what I found …
Each time, I was dealing with an established journalist. Businesses are, quite rightly in my opinion, hiring print journos to generate professional, industry standard material for their own digital outlets. But in every instance there was also a huge knowledge gap. And it was this: they just assumed that these people knew how to turn their well written words into great videos. Why on earth should they?
Making good, engaging, memorable video material is not about looking at a camera or phone lens and talking. Nor is it about preparing a script and then trying to memorise it first. Don’t get me wrong – it is a part of what we do when we make a film. It’s called a Piece To Camera (PTC) – but it’s only a fraction of the final product. The rest of it requires a structure, a script, a shot list and a story arc – all of which is (roughly) put together before you go out to film, so that you know what you want your camera to do when you get there. After that, you record your track, edit in your interviews and Pieces To Camera – and bang: before you know it you have a proper, polished, professional looking vid. Even better, you can do it all, really quickly, on your smartphone.
Yes the digital world is edgier than most TV. Yes you can break a lot of the stodgy rules of traditional TV and have a lot of fun doing it. And yes, any business can and should be a broadcaster these days in their own right and on their own channels. But the ‘grammar’ of telling good stories, making sure your words and your pictures play off each other for maximum impact, is there for a reason. And that applies just as much now as before. However big or small your screen.
Scott Solder is a communications consultant and business coach.
His new half-day module, ‘TV production – The One Show Way’ is now available to content teams in businesses of all sectors.
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