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6 Tips for Writing a Successful VNR

By Steve Slaunwhite

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 budget.

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.

Steve Slaunwhite is an independent copywriter and consultant specializing in marketing communications. He can be reached at or 905-846-2620.

See also:
Successful news releases: 7 must-know tips

News releases that work -- and those that don't
The Princess and the Press
Put it in writing
Using History to Write Powerful Leads
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Video News Releases
How to Make Your B-roll Work
Sources News Release Service