A TV News Reporter’s Guide to Creating Interesting Videos Quickly

A TV News Reporters Guide to Creating Interesting Videos Quickly

Television news reporters often turn around a story in just a two or three hours. Their process is extremely efficient and hasn't changed in decades and it's an easy method of creating stories with impact very quickly. This process can be applied to video production as well. The storytelling method is much more efficient than complicated storyboards, developing a script, and writing out testimonials before you shoot. Here are a few tips straight from the news business that might help you with some of the videos you produce.

Tip #1: Let the interviews tell the story

A news reporter never writes the story first and then conducts the interviews. They do a little research, line up the interviews, and go. The reporter might have some idea about which questions to ask, but they do not come with a list and simply read the questions. News reporters intensely listen to the interviewee and ask questions based on the person's response. This can sometimes cause the story to go in a new direction.

Tip #2: When conducting interviews try to elicit emotion & opinion

Good stories always need emotion. So, look to your interviews to give your story the emotion it needs to be memorable. I always interview my client and my client's customer. I look to the customer to show their excitement and happiness about the product or service, and I want my business owner's soundbites to reveal passion, concern, and integrity. The business owner, as well as the customer, can also offer opinions. But I, like the reporter, never want to offer an opinion. Those opinions will come across much better through the interviews. Remember, the soundbites you select should show emotion or opinion. You can use narration to convey the facts.

Tip #3: It's all about perspective

Often in news, the story opens with one person who is affected by the overall issue. That person is the angle that makes the story interesting and emotional to all of us. The story might be about say a new tax that will increase our grocery bills. The reporter won't interview three people who say wow, that's gonna be tough. He or she will introduce you to one person who will exemplify how hard things will be. That person might be on a fixed income. The reporter wants you to feel the emotion, the worry or desperation of that one person. Later in the story, you will hear from the legislator who is sponsoring the bill.

The audience relates to that one person. The same is true when you craft your story. Always start with the customer. If the client sells remodeling projects, he or she is targeting the video to potential customers. The homeowner watching the video will relate to the customer, not to the remodeler. So, start the story with the customer who is thrilled with her kitchen remodel.

Tip #4: Keep the soundbites short

The videos I create that have the same structure as a news story, and not all of them do, follow this rule as much as possible. In news, we kept soundbites to no more than seven seconds. Although I do work to keep soundbites short, I don't stick to seven seconds. But, I try to keep the soundbites concise and to convey one point, rather than several thoughts.

If you use this system, you will save an enormous amount of time. It's not for every client and every video. But, when it does appeal to the client, it's a beautiful thing. Your client doesn't have to spend time in the project. They don't try to write a script. They can simply set up the interview with their best customer. The videos we produce using this formula usually take about two days rather than several weeks. They require almost no prep work. In six years of this, we've had almost no revisions. The story ends up looking like a beautifully produced feature story. Since it doesn't come across as a sales pitch, the client uses the video for years and blogs often pick up these features. They make great marketing tools.

One quick note on the process: We pitch the client, ask them to set up the interviews. We shoot everything in one location, usually at the home of the customer. We do the interviews. We send the audio files to a transcription service. We use CopyTalk.com, and they do a great job. The transcripts have timecodes. The transcripts are sent to a writer, a former news reporter, and she turns them around quickly. I do the narration, but if you don't have an in-house person, I would recommend SpeedySpots.com. They have all types of demographics represented.

Below is an example of one of our feature stories. This one ran on my television show, but not all of them do. This one also used a designer rather than a business owner, but you get the idea.

Free Internet Seminar – Video Marketing:

The Atlanta Internet Video Marketing Association are holding a free live streamed seminar titled, "Three Steps to Creating a Successful Video Marking Campaign," this Thursday 12th September 7-8pm EST about video marketing strategy. You can find out more details from the Marietta Video productions site.

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About Our Contributing Author - Donna Davis
Donna Davis Founded the Atlanta Internet Video Marketing Association and is the owner of Marietta Video Productions and Bizspokesperson.com. She spent 20 years covering news as an anchor and reporter before starting her own video production companies.

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What do you think? ▼
  • Randy Hansen

    Donna- while useful, your article didn't address the aspect of the visual angle. Using the images to support the sound bites, writing to video, editing and audio features to enhance the interviews, the use of proper lighting and interview placement, camera technique and pacing. The items in your article are useful for writing and producing the video, but not for shooting and editing compelling video to go along with it.

    How do I know this? 24+ years in TV news, multiple awards, 11+ years as a chief photog, teacher and video production magazine author (30+ articles)

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