Dear Radio: How to use video with radio campaigns
by Paulo Dias (@therealptp) Video and radio have been willing but uncomfortable bed fellows. It makes sense that an audio medium would want to take advantage of video to allow listeners to see the magic behind the scenes but how can you use video on radio campaigns that not only reward listeners with a unique experience but also help the aligned brand get the audience and views they expect?
We’ve all seen the compelling evidence that shows online video works and is only going to get bigger. All the major social media platforms are introducing ways to make video easier and quicker to load, as well as making changes to ensure advertisers are able to benefit from social video.
Here are some of the lessons I’ve learnt after much trial and error.
1. Don’t treat video like you treat radio
Radio people, for all our eulogising about pre-prod, spend very little time doing pre-prod. The medium is quick, easy and cheap to produce and, because there are so many competent people in the game, we get away it.
When you don’t plan video properly, you don’t get away with it.
Put some thought into what you are shooting: too many videos from radio stations are of the presenter doing exactly what he or she did on air. Radio is notoriously boring to watch — so why make people do so?
Treat the video as if you are looking for an entire new audience. You catered for the on-air audience while you were on-air; rethink what made that piece so good and repackage it for a viewing- and social-media audience.
2. Face for radio
We love radio presenters because they’re good at radio. The ones who are good at TV…are already on TV. I’ve put presenters in an awkward situation by plonking them in front of the camera when they don’t want to be there. I often see radio presenters on camera, even the most-experienced ones, looking like a deer in the headlights. Not sure what to do with their hands, not sure how to stand.
If you are going to film an uncomfortable presenter, put them in their natural habitat. Set up the shot in studio and behind the mic. However first prize should be to appoint a ‘video-only’ DJ — someone who has the charisma, ethos and sound of your station and is great on camera.
3. All the gear, no idea
While video is becoming cheaper and cheaper to make, it’s about getting the balance right. It’s inexcusable for big commercial radio stations to shoot client-funded video on mobile phones but, at the same time, there’s little need for full on, in-house sets with all the bells and whistles.
Get the right gear for what you want to produce; however, make the investment in people who know how to bring a story to life on camera. You may have the world’s best gear but, if you don’t have the eye for the shot or are able to translate a story into something people want to watch, that gear is going to gather dust.
4. Now, not just now
Video for radio is caught in this weird trap where we think it’s important for a video of an event to be available online as soon as possible, often compromising production quality and storyline in favour of being live “just after the show”.
These videos notoriously get very few views because, not only is it often uninteresting to watch and share, we also put it online without knowing if there is an audience for it.
If you need to make a video live with a deadline, use your social media and website stats to make sure you are posting videos when your audience watches videos — this will often help guide you on the content of the video and buy you more time to craft it.
5. One-take wonders
On air, we don’t get a second chance. Once you say it, it’s out there. Video gives us the opportunity to do as many takes as we need to so that we get it right. Take advantage of it. Your extra time spent planning could be the difference between someone scrolling past your video or hitting the all-important share button.
6. Don’t bribe for views
I’ve been guilty of it and I can’t scrub enough to get rid of the shame. There is no value in a view that is just after a prize and, while lots of views look great in a debrief, it doesn’t mean anything to the audience.
Rather put the time, effort and money into your distribution plan, as well as producing a piece of video content that resonates with people, is truly interesting and is something they want to share.
Paulo Dias (@therealptp) is the head of creative integration at Ultimate Media. He works closely with the programming teams at leading radio stations to help implement commercial messaging into their existing formats. He contributes the regular column, “Dear Radio”, looking at the changing radio landscape in South Africa, to MarkLives.com