How to make a Video News Release and get your story told
by Ben Curry
Video News Releases (VNRs) are a way for government departments, not-for-profits and businesses to gain TV and online media coverage for events, programs or products. They are sometimes called Electronic Press Kits (EPK). Where a media release is used to provide text copy and background information to media outlets, a VNR provides photos or video content to accompany the story. VNRs aren’t designed to be used as is, but edited by the media for use in their own programs.
VNRs are most useful in three situations:
- To publicise a story that the media may have difficulty covering. News outlets today have fewer resources, especially at night or on weekends.
- To provide footage that may be impossible for the news media to capture themselves, because of technical or safety constraints. Examples include construction, demolition, crash testing, and labs with hazardous materials.
- Security and secrecy: you don’t want a media pack filming in your most sensitive areas, but using your own photographer/videographer you can keep control of what is released.
Interview “grabs” can also be included especially if the “talent” is hard to get hold of. Some media outlets will prefer to do their own interviews to ensure they are not being fed a particular line of spin.
Tips for a successful Video News Release:
- Don’t “over-edit” the footage. Supply a good variety of angles of sufficient duration so news outlets can edit in the way they choose.
- Don’t cover everything with your logo or branding. This is supposed to look like news footage, not a corporate video.
- Include the questions with interviews to provide context.
- Include background audio on general footage (but make sure no-one is saying anything unsuitable).
- Provide a basic text description embedded on the video, describing the footage. This is very useful for video editors who may not have the media release at hand, and ensures proper labelling when the footage is archived.
- We generally aim for a vision duration of about 5 minutes, which makes for an easy download.
- Check if your media outlet requires a specific format for the video file. Some broadcasters may demand interlaced footage whilst online outlets use progressive formats. Your video provider will know how to do this.
Finally, give the video one last check before release. Once it’s out there it could be archived forever.
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