Increasingly communications teams want to produce regular video content in-house using smartphones or DSLR cameras.
I’ve seen this strategy used to great effect to connect with internal and external audiences on a regular basis. I’ve also seen first hand the obstacles communications teams face. Sometimes before they’ve even got their video dreams off the starting line.
A closed company culture, lack of access to equipment, strained budgets, poor ICT support, and most of all – lack of time.
We all know video is now a vital tool in PR strategy but these frustrations can stop the most determined communications leader in their tracks. Teams become bogged down with the scale of the task and projects simply don’t get finished.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! To help out, I’ve compiled a quick top 3 of the most common obstacles and some simple solutions to get you uploading content in no time.
Lack of a clear goal
Many video projects stumble before they really get going. And the problem is rarely lack of ideas. Quite the opposite.
Effective pre-production requires you to set clear, manageable goals. It demands that you are picky about what ideas you take forward and you are realistic about your capabilities. You can’t do it all. So deciding what content will work most effectively on video is the first step.
Start by focusing on your overall PR or HR goals: raising awareness of good practice, streamlining the onboarding process, changing attitudes towards safety. Pick one of these goals and decide how video can help you.
Be realistic about the time and skills you have and choose the style of video you create accordingly. There’s no point in interviewing multiple employees for a ‘talking heads’ style video, if you don’t have a decent microphone. Poor audio is very off-putting to viewers. If you know your computers run slow, don’t shoot 5 hours of interviews. You simply won’t have time to edit it (more on that later).
If you don’t take these small steps to set goals and limits at the start, the scale of the project will overwhelm your team. Projects will be left unfinished or stutter at the starting line. And you’ll be left believing that video doesn’t really work for you.
That is simply not the case. Keep it simple, focus on one goal, and get shooting!
Top Tip: If you find your ideas snowballing in that first meeting, consider using the free software Trello. This tool lets you organise your ideas on boards, splitting them into sub-groups, and prioritising what you take forward and what gets put on the back burner. It’s a really popular tool for video collaboration and it could help your team find the focus they need.
Access to equipment
This shouldn’t really be a problem anymore. There’s no need to invest in expensive video cameras or even DSLRs. A good smartphone is all you need. However, if management aren’t on board with video as a primary means of reaching your audience, this can still be a huge frustration.
Outdated phones, tight security, access to apps blocked, cluttered memory. These are all stumbling blocks to producing regular video content. And it’s particularly a problem in bigger organisations that are slow to change.
This is where your power of persuasion comes into play. Video is no longer an optional extra in the world of PR and communications. And a decent smartphone is an essential tool for any professional. You need senior management and IT to realise this.
Read up about why you need video, the phone specs that will get you to your goal, and what other equipment is needed. Invest in training for your team or for yourself so you can make a stronger case. If your team has the skills to do the job, it’s harder for whoever controls the purse strings to say ‘no’ to buying them the gear they need.
Top tip: If you already have a good phone, you can secure other necessary equipment really cheaply to start out. You can pick up a lapel mic for under a tenner and a simple tripod for stabilisation is just £15. They won’t be the best quality at this price but it will up your production value from a shaky handheld effort to something more professional. It will prove what you can achieve and help you build a case for greater investment.
Slow turnaround in editing
If you’re a bit further down the line in your journey to smartphone video then this is most likely your biggest stumbling block. It certainly has been in my experience of talking to communications professionals across a lot of companies.
To overcome this, you can start by planning simpler videos, as suggested in point 1. This reduces editing time. So instead of the ‘talking heads’ videos mentioned above, make a shorter video using no audio. Use a few creative shots of employees at work, background music, and text graphics to tell the story. You can edit a video like this quickly on a phone with KineMaster or Lumafusion. Both let you add a variety of text graphics and select royalty free music for your video. Try FilmoraGo or iMovie for quality free editing apps. If you’re skilled with these apps, this workflow can deliver fast turnaround. While Smartphone editing apps are really powerful, they do limit the complexity of the video you produce, largely due the the tiny screen you’re working on.
To advance your output the preferred workflow is to shoot on a phone and edit on a desktop. You need a powerful machine to make this a realistic possibility. All editing software recommends a minimum of RAM to run. However, you will usually find you need more than the minimum.
So even if you have the recommended 4 RAM for Adobe Premiere Elements, the programme is likely to run slowly and the editing process becomes so frustrating at this pace, most people give up. Ideally you would have at least 8 RAM for this programme. You also need a laptop with a dual core processor and plenty of storage to cope with the footage you’re transferring.
If you don’t have these minimum requirements, you will find yourself frustrated by painfully slow running speeds and lag as you try to edit your masterpiece.
Top Tip: To improve your turnaround time, consider outsourcing your editing to a professional editor. This is becoming an increasingly popular route. The YouTube community is full of advice to vloggers about how to outsource their editing needs. YouTube content creators and Communications professionals alike, simply don’t have the time to learn the art of editing or to devote their day to putting content together.
If you have the ideas and the skills to shoot video content on your phone, it is an easy next step to transfer that footage and a video brief to a trusted professional.
After all, a strong video strategy thrives on fast turnaround of content. Videos that are up to date and relevant are vital in today’s world and will help you build regular engagement consistent messaging.