A few tips on making sure your video captivates from some pros at engagement

Gravitylab is happy to share 5 video tips from The Wall Street Journal’s John Crowley and Lucia Adams of The Times and Sunday Times.

Here are some key take aways as they talked about how they are consistently putting up engaging streaming video.

1. Think video quality, not quantity

Prior to 2010, streaming video content at the NYTimes was “very much following the news agenda,” said Adams, and the amount of pageviews it received was “hit and miss”.

The paper changed their footing and adopted a video strategy of “less, but better”.

“In two years we went from producing 15 videos a day, to producing half that number but doubling the number of video views,” she said.

2. Streaming video assets are not post-script

“Multimedia cannot be an afterthought,” said Adams, who manages an organization wide team of developers and video media staff.

However, considering how video might be used to tell a story from the very outset requires an understanding of what makes good video, she added.

Adams defined this as content which features “emotion, humour, action, or insight”.

“To a video journalist, that might sound quite obvious, but for a newspaper journalist quite often the thought process goes something like: ‘we’ve got a good story, it’s got to go online, let’s put some video with it’ – the thought process needs to be much more evolved than that.

3. Always emphasize your business strengths

The NYTimes had its tablet app available since 2010, and its focus became more about engagement, said Adams.

Readers were engaging with the app for “up to 40 minutes”,a huge amount of time for their web platforms, and changed the direction of its video content to be “much more considered”.

“For us it’s about taking the really big exclusive stories,” for example, the revelations Qatar’s bit to host the World Cup in 2022 that the Sunday Times published recently.

“That was a massive story for us, so video was absolutely the right medium.”

4. Video should separate you, not group you with your peers

These days, many people go to Twitter for updates, noted John Crowley, digital editor EMEA at the Wall Street Journal.

So how do 2 traditional news outlets make themselves the 1st stop for breaking news amid competition from new media competitors?

One of the ways the WSJ gets video out is through their WorldStream platform, which launched in 2012, allowing its reporters around the world to shoot and upload video straight from their smartphones in just a few minutes, via a customized version of Tout.

The workflow is simple and efficient both in terms of time and resources, enabling the WSJ to get reliable, on-the-ground footage from breaking news situations online so quickly it is “almost live”.

“There is demand for this content out there,” said Crowley.

He added that, as the digital branch of a legacy news organisation, “we have to cut our cloth accordingly, and what we can do is this – we can arm our reporters out in the field with iPhones.”

5. Don’t worry if it’s rough around the edges

Online video content does not have to be polished and professional to be engaging, said Crowley.

To demonstrate, he showed a WorldStream clip of protesters being tear-gassed by police in Taksim Square, shot by WSJ’s Istanbul bureau chief Joe Parkinson last year.

The shaky footage is “pretty raw,” Crowley noted, and was also shot vertically. Shooting with your camera vertical is considered bad form in journalism.

The panic and confusion of the video draws the audience in. The viewer’s experience and experience of what the situation is closer to what it must have been like, he said.

“[Parkinson] was right in the midst of it, being tear-gassed,” said Crowley. “We left that in because we thought it was compelling, we thought people would want to see what was going on, and it was hugely engaging.”

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