During media training for a business trying to improve its public relations, I asked one of the company’s leaders, as part of a mock interview, to confirm something about his fees. His answer focused on how someone determines those fees, but he didn’t answer my question. I asked my question a second time. His answer focused on why fees vary, but he didn’t answer my question. I asked my question a third time. He explained the information I asked about is possibly true. I asked if I understood correctly that he, as one of his company’s leaders, did not have the definitive information I sought. His answer returned to how someone determines those fees. At this point, I let him off the hook. Some reporters will quickly let you off the hook if you dodge their questions. Other reporters will not give in. Businesses often enter interviews knowing they will not divulge certain information, but continuously dodging questions and hoping reporters show mercy is a PR strategy set to backfire. Plan ahead and either answer the question or explain why you can’t answer it. The third option is my least favorite: Don’t do the interview. Have you seen this awkward type of scenario play out? How would you handle it?
Organizations often include figures and statistics in their videos. The problem is many businesses do not put numbers in a proper context or translate their significance for viewers outside their industries. Consider people often look at the same set of figures and draw different conclusions.
We watched a commercial stating each year, people in the United States throw away 17 billion toilet paper tubes. That number sounds huge, but is it given the number of people who live in the country? The TV ad went on to explain 17 billion is enough to fill the Empire State Building twice. The video showed an Empire State Building made of toilet paper tubes. This approach hit home the number’s significance. The ad is for Scott and its tube-free bath tissue without the “wasteful” tube.
Make numbers stand out more by putting them in context. Make comparisons. For example, did your company sell enough bottled water to fill a stadium? Did you sell enough items to cover three football fields?
A video’s message gets watered down when it includes too many people relaying too many messages. We understand the sensitive situation, in which managers and employees may feel slighted not appearing in a company’s video. Some people will be disappointed.
While planning, we try to be thoughtful what people appear in videos. But pushing in extra sound bites for “political” reasons can make videos slow to a grind and less interesting to watch. Including more sound bites can weaken the essential idea, slowing down the video’s pacing and unnecessarily extending the video’s length.
President Obama’s economic speech offers media training lessons for business leaders.
- Share stories to help deliver key messages. Don’t just deliver facts.
- Explain how issues impact you personally. Don’t speak as simply a business leader.
- Use your location to enhance your interviews. Don’t settle for boring offices and conference rooms.
- Relay how the topic impacts the local community. Don’t speak in abstract generalities.
- Fluctuate your voice and use your hands. Don’t only say the words. Show you’re passionate about them.
After walking away from a CNN interview she didn’t like, comedian Joan Rivers jokes about the incident with David Letterman. A media training lesson for politicians and businesses: Don’t go into hiding after controversy. Note: Joan uses some strong language in this video. It is not appropriate for all viewers.
Clients sometimes send us more than one logo to include in a business video. The video tackles a topic involving the efforts of more than one organization. How those logos appear in videos and how they look in comparison to each other can be a sensitive issue. Ask the following questions:
- Should the logos always appear together?
- Should all the logos always appear to be the same size?
- Will the appearance of any of the logos seem random because the video doesn’t make clear how a particular organization is involved?
- Does it matter when and where the logos appear in the video?
- Are all the logos of equal resolution or will some look better than others?
I never caught her name. But she talked to me as if we had travelled the world together.
As we returned from a business video shoot, she noticed my idiotic confusion over where to stand before boarding a Southwest Airlines flight. She assumed I didn’t frequently travel, and before I conjured up a complete answer, she provided me her recent itinerary. She spoke with such peppy enthusiasm, some passengers waiting behind awkwardly smiled or casually turned away to avoid the conversation from somehow drawing them in. The mother of four recently spent five days in Orlando followed by a trip to New York. She loves to travel (and being single) and her resume includes trips to 40 states and two continents (Asia and Europe) other than her own. Her eyes lit up when explaining she was contemplating options for her next adventure. I wanted to share with her my own love of travel, but her words never made room for me to interject. I sensed others wondered why I continued to engage, but I didn’t need to do much. She just finished visiting her daughter and looked forward to an upcoming singles swim party. I asked, do you all swim together? No, she responded. They drink together. As we stepped aboard the plane, she asked a flight attendant to zip up her backpack. The flight attendant then asked me if I needed anything zipped. Best question ever from an airline.
While she struggled to fit her bag in an overhead compartment and a woman sitting below covered her head for protection, I considered sitting in one of the two empty seats beside my new talkative travel friend. But this, according to the crowd, appeared to be socially unacceptable and likely would have compelled others to shake their heads not only at her but also at me.
Bill began our airport shuttle ride clenching his cell phone with his Harley Davidson gloves. He then apologized. He momentarily thought his mom faced a problem, but she was OK.
He then sat behind the wheel of the Enterprise Rent-A-Car van and asked where we lived. We had traveled from Phoenix on business for a business video shoot. Bill, as custom requires, commented on Arizona’s heat then explained he frequently visits our state for golf.
He also once worked there, sort of. Bill explained in the late 1950s, for $25 a month, he played rookie ball for the San Francisco Giants organization. And that is when he encountered one of his life experiences he enjoys sharing with passengers he just met and won’t get to know very well.
In what sounded like a spring game that didn’t count, Bill was armed with his glove when the great Willie Mays stood over the plate. And although Mays’ legacy is that of a storied home run hitter, he made history, at least for Bill, for a far less significant swing of the bat.
The at-bat ended with a hit and Bill throwing him out. Bill says Mays later autographed a ball for him.
More than 50 years later, with a mixture of disco and 80s music playing above, Bill passionately shared his story while driving us to a car. A lack of perfect eyesight, he told us, prevented a long baseball career. But a game that didn’t count more than a half century ago counted a lot for Bill. And his tale made a short and otherwise routine ride from the airport a bit more memorable. And with no one else on the shuttle, we were a small crowd with a front row seat for Bill’s own historic and personal basement moment.