Ideas Lab: Shout Communications' top tips for branded video

As part of our Ideas Lab broadcast series, Shout Communications has put together tips on how PRs can make the most of sponsored online video.

Sometimes it seems that clients know that they want a video, they've read all the stats around online video and understand how important content is as part of a PR strategy, but they can't put their finger on the kind of video they want and what they want it to achieve.

We've put together a few top tips to help you to make a branded video that will not only enhance your campaign, but also engage viewers.

1. Prioritise pre-production

The importance of pre-production is something that we talk about ALOT at Shout!  By front-loading the work required by completing a fully comprehensive video production brief, you’ll avoid nasty surprises and roadblocks down the line.

  • Be clear on what your most important key messages are and ensure all decision makers agree
  • Ensure that you (and any production company you’re working with) have a clear understanding of the target audience and tone required
  • Write a script, however basic or bullet pointed, and even if it is just a talking head video.
  • Story board more complex videos.
  • Speak to interviewees in advance if possible, so you can incorporate their soundbites into the script and can begin to build a relationship with them.

Ask your producer, camera operator and editor for advice. They are likely to have ideas that will enhance your video, plus they may be able to identify technical challenges that you wouldn’t have thought of.

Once you’ve decided on your video goal, target audience and key messages you should then be able to use this information to dictate the style and tone of your video. Do some research and think about the different options you have – animated infographics, stopmotion and the use of drones are all popular at the moment, but only choose a style that fits your video goal and that will be engaging for your target audience.

2. Get the most out of your spokesperson

Think in detail about who you want to include as spokespeople in your video.  The CEO might be a great choice for a more traditional corporate film, but if you wanted to promote something for a youth market, a younger spokesperson will probably be a better option. Make sure your chosen spokesperson is both willing and available.  If they can only spare you twenty minutes, they might end up rushing and you won’t get the results you want, and if they’re not keen on doing the video then don’t make them – it will be obvious once they get in front of the camera that they don’t want to be there, and that can make for awkward viewing.  You may decide not to use a spokesperson at all – a voiceover, or simply some music may be enough to tell your story.

If you’ve identified who you want to film, it’s also essential to think about where you are going to film them. Consider what will be in shot behind them and also how they should style themselves. If you’re using lights or it’s a sunny day, it’s likely to get quite hot during filming – so make sure you have powder on hand to fix any shine. You may feel awkward telling your spokesperson that they need a little powder, but you will end up feeling much more awkward if they look sweaty and shiny in the final footage.

3. Think pictures

One quick fix to improve your branded video content is to up your production values, and therefore the quality of your video.  No one minds watching wobbly Vines or fuzzy home-made virals, but if you’re watching something that promotes a brand or organisation, viewers expect a higher level of production values.

More people than ever are watching on mobile devices – in fact, 15 percent of all time spent watching online videos is spent watching them on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, according to a report from BI Intelligence.  So make sure whatever you’re filming will translate to the small screen which is less forgiving when it comes to poor quality filming.

Scope out ‘wallpaper picture’ opportunities beforehand. This is the footage that you – or other broadcasters if you’re making B-roll – can use to cover up edit points and is absolutely essential. A talking head on its own will not give an editor enough material to create a package.

Think about relevant pictures – if your spokesperson is a corporate CEO perhaps appropriate footage would be of them in their office at work, if your spokesperson is talking about a specific initiative then you would need to capture footage of that initiative to support what they are saying.  If you identify in advance what the ‘wallpaper pictures’ will be, then you won’t waste time on the shoot day trying to think of something appropriate.

4. Less is more

People are impatient and research shows most of us won’t spend more than a couple of minutes watching any one online video. We recommend keeping branded videos as short as possible ideally under two minutes and trying to keep the attention of viewers by making sure that the content is compelling. If you’re concerned that your content many not be the most scintillating then use distractions such as graphics, special effects and text on screen to keep viewers visually engaged.

Don’t try to cram your video full of messaging.  You might think that it’s a good opportunity to mention every key message in your whole year’s campaign, but that will ultimately end up being boring, pluggy content.  Stick to up to three key messages (we would actually say one is ideal) and do your best to present the messaging in a fun and creative way so the viewer doesn’t feel like they’re watching a blatant ad for your brand or organisation.

There’s no doubt that demand for video is growing – consumers are watching more video and brands are making more video. The challenge is to create content that stands out in a crowded marketplace and delivers results. As branded video specialists at Shout! we know how to deliver videos for broadcast and online that will bring results, so why not get in touch next time your campaign calls for some PR video, call 0207 240 7373 or email


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