If you're like most business communicators, you've written your
share of press releases, backgrounders and media kits. So scripting
a Video News Release (VNR) can be an exciting change of pace.
That is until you realize how high the stakes are. If your VNR
isn't picked up by the media, thousands spent on production will
go down the drain.
Don't panic. A VNR is essentially a press release on video. The
key difference is how it is planned and written. Here are six tips
that can help.
1. Start with a treatment. This is a one-page description
of what you envision seeing and hearing. A treatment helps you
and others determine if the VNR is newsworthy and worth the investment.
It also helps your production company establish a preliminary
2. Get the interviews right the first time. In a press
release, you can edit a quotation for clarity and impact, and
delete the ums and aahs that infiltrate everyday speech. On video,
however, what you see is what you get. So carefully review questions
and key messages with interviewees. Be there during the shoot
to ensure you get the sound bites you need.
3. Write for the ear, not the eye. Just because a voiceover
reads well on paper doesn't mean it will sound well on screen.
Here's a tip I use: Read your script into a tape recorder and
then play it back. When you do, I guarantee you'll rewrite it.
4. Stay with the fundamentals. Given all the sight and
sound possibilities of video, it's easy to get carried way. However,
don't forget your public relations 101 lessons. You're not scripting
a Hollywood blockbuster, you're writing a newsworthy, broadcast-ready
press release. Keep it simple and informative.
5. It's a release, not a commercial.We all know that
a press release should not be overly promotional. The same holds
true for a VNR - times ten. In general, broadcast journalists
are even more sensitive to hype than their print and online counterparts.
6. Don't forget the B-roll. This is additional footage
that broadcasters use to customize the news segment. If your VNR
is an automotive launch, for example, your B-roll might include
shots of the car in the driveway, on the road, surrounded by a
happy family, on an adventure trek. As the writer, scripting the
B-roll is just as important as the VNR itself.