These days, every media outlet is a multi-media outlet. Sure, your radio station personalities may be focused primarily on audio content, but in the social media age, people want to see them on video, too. While technological improvements have made it increasingly easy and affordable to post video online, that doesn't ensure that all the videos created are compelling. Creating great video requires a different set of skills and, for many of us, it doesn't come as naturally. [Insert cliché “face for radio” joke here.]
With that in mind, here are some things to pay attention to when you're creating your videos:
1. The Final Destination
When you're creating your video, you'll want to know its final destination — YouTube, Facebook, the Instagram Feed, Instagram Stories, etc. Different destinations require different sizes and different lengths. For example, a 45-second square video might be best for an Instagram feed, while a 3-minute landscape video would be better suited to YouTube. Don't assume that you can post the same video on every single social network.
We're audio professionals, so make sure the audio quality on the video is good. Even if you're just using a phone to record short videos, if the built-in mic isn't getting the job done properly, get an external microphone designed to plug into your phone.
Ideally, you want the camera to be at eye level or slightly above. Avoid having it below you whenever possible.
Watch this video from Dave and Mahoney of X107.5 in Las Vegas and pay attention to how well the shots are framed:
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You don't want a video that's too dark. If you routinely create videos in the same location, such as the air studio, have your engineers invest in proper lighting. These days, it's even possible to purchase an inexpensive selfie ring light to ensure that your videos are well lit.
5. Screen Resolution
Nobody wants to watch a grainy video. Know what resolution your camera can record at and what the ideal resolution for your video's destination is.
6. The Background
Be aware of what's behind you when you're recording videos. Sometimes, the air studio equipment provides a nice DJ-in-their-natural-habitat vibe, but other times it looks cluttered. When you're setting up the air studio or gathering equipment for a promotional appearance, think about how the backdrop will look on video.
The backdrop can provide a great opportunity to display the station logo, as it does in this video of a press conference with 21 Pilots from 105.7 The Point in St. Louis:
Dress the part. A DJ from an Alternative Rock station should look different from a DJ from an Urban Rhythmic or a Hot AC station.
Here's a fantastic example from Alyssa of Alt 94.9 in San Diego, who went all out for her Comic-Con videos:
8. Eye Contact
Look at the camera. And if you're not looking at the camera, do so with purpose.
Here's a video from Krys Stewart of CJAY 92 in Toronto. Notice that the way her eyes move adds to the confessional tone of the video.
A little action goes a long way. Watch how Mo from Alt AZ 93.3 in Phoenix uses her hands to give this short video a lot of energy:
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SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SUNDAY! Homegrown with Mo has now moved to Sundays for an hour long specialty show 🌵 starts at 9pm! Feel free to submit your music to be featured: firstname.lastname@example.org TELL EVERYONE! • -@mororadio! • • • #Supportlocalmusic #phoenixaz #mesaaz #scottsdaleaz #tempeaz #altaz933 #gilbertaz #chandleraz #homegrown #theformat #jimmyeatworld #themaine #thetechnicolors #authorityzero #themoshow #arizonasalternative
Speaking of Mo, check out how her blue hair and yellow tank top pop off the screen. The bright colors are eye-catching and draw people in.
11. One Idea Per Video
In radio, when we say, “one idea per break,” what we really mean is Call Letters / Backsell / Say Your Name / The One Main Idea / Tease / Frontsell / Call Letters. With online video, “one idea per break” should be more strict. Aside from a quick introduction (“Hey, this is Johnny Fever from WKRP”), you really should limit your videos to a single idea.
12. Call to Action
Know what you want people to do after they watch the video. Perhaps you want them to check your Instagram bio and click on a link, subscribe to your YouTube channel, or leave a comment on Facebook. Say so explicitly at the end of your video. Keep in mind, a call to action that people can do immediately from their phone or computer is more effective than asking them to take a bigger step like “come down to the car dealership” or “listen weekdays at 8am.”
13. Thumbnail Image
Most social networks will allow you to choose the static image that appears on the video before somebody plays it. Take the time to select a thumbnail image that conveys what the video is about and entices people to press play. For example, here's a video from Preston and Steve at 93.3 WMMR in Philadelphia. Notice that the video includes footage of the jocks as well as John Travolta, but they made sure that the thumbnail image depicts John Travolta, because that's what makes this particular video unique.
14. Radio vs. Video
Unless you're a radio morning show or filming an in-studio interview, the video content you create probably shouldn't be footage of you doing your on-air breaks. Instead, create video-first content: content that is intentionally designed to be presented in a visual manner.
There is, however, one DJ who is exempt from this rule:
— Broadway Bill Lee (@BroadwayBillLee) October 10, 2018
Creating compelling video isn't easy. You'l have to hone a new set of skills. But if you pay attention to these things, your videos should start to improve. [Close with a cliché “Video Killed the Radio Star” joke.] Good luck!