Video as a communications tool

We’ve been talking a great deal about the power of video lately. At AHA, we believe that video can be a valuable tool to help tell an organization’s story – but it is just one component. In Wednesday’s blog post, I am going to talk about other tools that are important when it comes to telling your organization’s story.

For today, I want to focus a little bit on how we, at AHA, approach public relations using video. Prior to opening our PR agency, I worked for both a larger PR agency and in-house as a director of communications and had many opportunities to work with videographers. One of the challenges that I often found was that the videographer showed up on the day of the shoot and asked: “What am I shooting?” It felt disconnected to me.

We do quite a bit of videography here at AHA – especially through our brand journalism services – and we have a different approach to video production. The video crew is an important part of the team and from the first planning stages of the project they are involved and engaged. The entire team meets and we outline the client’s needs, expectations, budget and objectives. Then we brainstorm ideas and concepts. There are often other aspects of the project such as articles, white papers, social media or traditional media outreach and all of that is discussed so that the initiative has a common theme or thread that ties it together.

Prior to the shoot, we develop messaging and positioning, we do a story outline or storyboard and we work with our client to identify the different audiences and whether we need slightly different versions of the video for the various stakeholders. Our clients receive draft speaking points, a shoot outline and schedule and are updated regularly on the status of the planning. For the people who will be interviewed, we run through the questions, make sure they are relevant and help the person to develop succinct and interesting answers for the interview. We don’t put words in their mouths; we help them keep their answers focused, brief, relevant and credible. If there are questions that we believe need to be answered, we ask them – even the tough questions. Not every tough question or answer makes it to the final product, but we’ve seen a real shift in how open and transparent organizations want to be. It’s a culture change and step-by-step, we’re seeing positive movement.

On the day of the shoot, our video crew is prepared. They know the story, the background, they understand the objectives of the client and they know the audience. They know where the video will be shared and when. And there is always a field producer with the videographer. That way, the videographer can focus on their role – which is to get great video (and sound) – and the field producer deals with any on location challenges, asks the questions, and makes sure the interview subject delivers a good interview. There is real teamwork in how we produce videos at AHA. On location, there are often issues that no one could have predicted and it’s here that our team really shines. They are flexible, quick thinking and, if they need to, they will switch the shoot location or figure out creative ways to get the shot they need.

Once the shoot is over, it doesn’t end there. Then the editing process begins. And I can tell you, without a great editor – no matter how great the videographer – you end up with nothing. The editing process is also a team effort. Telling a story is a collaborative effort – and the best part of the AHA Brand Journalism Crew is that they are always focused on creating the best results. It’s about the results, not whose idea it was. Once we have a rough cut, we show it to the client for their input. Then, based on input and approvals, the video is delivered to them on time and on budget.

We hear from clients all the time that they are incredibly impressed when they work with AHA on brand journalism and produce a video. Our approach delivers what they need and exceeds expectations. I believe that’s because our crew sees video as a communications tool – not just as a camera on someone’s shoulders.

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