August 17, 2017

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

If CNN can use Skype for video, why can’t you?

If CNN can use Skype for video, why can’t you?

I frequently talk to people who seem scared to explore video content because they think it’s too difficult or too expensive. When I suggest using a cell phone camera or Skype video chat or a Google Hangout, they balk at the quality.

Yet if you turn on CNN or other cable news channels today, it’s quite common to see interviews conducted over webcams. Sometimes we even see grainy video from cameras over cellular connections. Some of this occurs when there’s breaking news and any imagery of the event is better than nothing.

But it’s increasingly common for CNN and others to have “talking head” interviews with people who are on webcams, simply because it’s more convenient and cheaper than booking studio time and getting the guest to travel to a location other than their home or office to do the hit.

As communicators, we should learn from this and embrace the possibilities of webcam interviews when we generate content for our own websites. Ultimately, the people who will view these pieces of content care more about what’s being said than whether the lighting is perfect or the video is in pure HD.

Quality Still Matters

Of course, you don’t want to produce horrible video content just because you can. You still need to make sure that the audio can be easily understood. With better microphones built-in to most modern laptops, this isn’t a huge issue, but it’s still something to look for. The person you’re interviewing should be in a quiet place so that the audio track isn’t riddled with barking dogs, screaming children, highway traffic, or emergency vehicle sirens.

You should also ensure that the Internet connection used on both ends is as good as possible — you don’t want to record lots of drop outs, pixelated images, or other errors. An occasional hiccup isn’t a big deal, but if it interferes with the consumption experience of your audience, you’ll need to redo the video.

Your guest should be looking into the camera — they may need to raise up their laptop on some books so they’re looking straight ahead rather than staring down at it. If there’s a window behind them, ask them to cover it with a shade, drape or curtain if possible. The lighting should be as good as possible, but you don’t need to set up professional three-point arrangements or anything like that. It’s not that hard.

So don’t shy away from video. Embrace it because it can be a great way to communicate with your audience. Use whatever tools you have available — whether that’s a full-fledged production studio or a simple Skype connection. If it’s good enough for CNN, it’s probably good enough for you.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Franeo blog.

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About The Author

Chip Griffin is the Founder of CustomScoop. He writes and speaks frequently about data-driven public relations. You can follow him on Twitter at @ChipGriffin.

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