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What is a video press release?

August, 2019

A video press release, or a video news release, is filmed as a news report to then be issued to the media. 

Much like the written version, a video press release should be produced in a style that will make it easy for the media to use. At Kent-based PR agency Maxim, we work with a former reporter and cameraman to ensure the end product aligns with the media’s news values.

Why do I need a video press release?

Video can be an excellent way to explain a complex subject or story. It’s often possible to fit more information into a one-minute film than several pages of copy, and if done well, it’s usually more engaging.

Newsrooms – both regionally and nationally – are often short staffed. Unless you are planning a huge event, the likelihood of securing TV press attendance is fairly remote. Even if it’s in their planning diary, breaking news could suddenly prevent a reporter from turning up. If you can present the media with footage they can easily use in the correct format, there is much more chance of securing press coverage for your story. 

More and more video is being used on news websites so a release won’t just be distributed to TV channels. You can also use the footage on your own website, either in full or edited to tell different stories. It’s rarely possible to do that if the media is filming your organisation, sometimes due to copyright and often because they simply don’t have the time to send footage to everyone who requests it. News programmes often disappear quickly from ‘watch again’ sites, making it difficult to share footage on social media channels.

An example 

Maxim works with the Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex which is using the video press release to good effect. Filming in an operational environment can be challenging, especially when your interviewee could be called away to an emergency at any moment.      

Equally, assembling key personnel from an organisation can be extremely difficult. If a TV reporter only gives you a few hours notice of an interview, what are the chances of the chief executive and the chairman, and perhaps a third party or project lead being available in a location that also makes good TV? Handy hint: that’s not a bland office. 

Producing a video press release allows you to plan well in advance of filming. Drafting the storyboard and scripting the interviews are all part of the pre-production. Preparation is key; the client needs to be properly briefed, dressed appropriately and in a location that will look good on camera and convey the story. 

What will the reporter ask me?

We get asked this question all the time when briefing clients for print, radio or TV interviews. More often than not, the reporter will only give you a vague idea of the topic they want to cover and they certainly won’t list every question they want to ask – that’s not the journalist’s job.

Our role is to think through the story and the surrounding topics and to consider what the media could ask, which then helps us to prepare appropriate answers for the interviewees. In video, it’s even more important to think about soundbites. Most news reports are a maximum of two minutes – not long to get a complex story across.

It's also important to select the best spokespeople for the topic you want to cover and ensure they are confident in front of a camera. Again, preparation is key and it may be that some media training is required beforehand. 

The end result

As with the written version, a video press release isn’t an advert and it shouldn’t be full of puff about how amazing your new service or company is. Ideally, you should end up with a series of talking heads and a good selection of shots the media can use to explain the story. Once distributed, newsrooms will often hold on to footage to illustrate future stories, hopefully enabling even more media coverage. 

If you’d like to talk to Maxim about producing a video news release, or for advice on media training, get in touch.

Obligatory selfie from Maxim Director Andrew Metcalf

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