online content

When Going On Camera Makes You Want to Vomit

Chris Garrett is a well known media consultant and a pro at content marketing (he also works with CopyBlogger, a software company with a blog worth checking out). He recently wrote a post about things that scare him:

“TV scares me so much I have never accepted a single opportunity. Not even pre-recorded shows.”

How does Chris deal with his fear of going on camera? He doesn’t…

“If you can’t face it right now, work around it - there are usually multiple ways to get the same or similar results. For example, I do webinars rather than streaming headshot video.”

I totally empathize with Chris. I have terrible stage fright. That’s one of the reasons I think I was able to break down the process of going on camera into small managable steps for my ebook Camera Ready. (And I would like to issue a challenge to Chris to follow my process and I promise he’ll not only be great on camera but he will actually enjoy it but I’ll throw down the gauntlet another day).

When TV was the only game in town, each appearance was a HUGE deal. But now video is being integrated into our daily lives...and you can practice on Skype calls and interactive workshops like the ones I’m holding on Spreecast (free!). Each week I help journalists and entrepreneurs take their on-camera appearances up a notch and shoot/edit better short videos. Last week child psychologist Heather Wittenberg joined me from Hawaii…

This week journalist Ashley Milne Tyte, host of The Broad Experience podcast, will be my guest. Wait, she’s a radio reporter? Why does she need video?

  • Because every panel she sits on and every conference she moderates is going to be recorded and posted online.
  • Because she is starting to share her expertise by appearing on HuffPost Live and other online video platforms.
  • Because eventually, she might want to have a crowdfuding campaign or market her podcast in other ways and she’ll need a video trailer. 

Integrating video into your website and any other content you create does these 3 things:

  1. Gets you found more easily.
    Brightcove says those webpages with video are 60% more likely to show up on the first page of Google.
  2. Taps into the rocketing video trend.
    According to ComScore, in October 182.5 million people in the US watched video online.
  3. Makes an impact.
    One video production company, Treepodia, even guarantees its clients a 4x increases in sales when they start using video.*

I’m going to find some easy ways for Ashley to use video. Join us.

For more video tips and ways to make everything you do on-camera look and sound great, check out my multimedia ebook Camera Ready, visit my website, and follow my on Twitter @manoushz.

*Thanks, as always, ReelSEO, for leading me to these insightful video stats.



Posted in conferences, entrepreneur, future of news, media tips, media training, On-Camera Tips, Popular, reporting work, tech, video ideas, webcasts
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How to Use Video As an Alternative to Pay-Per-Click

The New York Times had a telling article on small businesses.  The piece was called Small Players Seek an Alternative to the Expense of Pay-Per-Click and explained that, while Google Ad Sense was once a fantastic and affordable way of attracting web traffic, it’s become way too expensive.

It told the story of Tom Telford, who co-founded a company in 2001 that rents out vacation cabins in Georgia. He built the business with Ad Sense at 60 cents a click. 10 years later, he was working on a new company and the price for a click had doubled. He couldn’t afford to go down that marketing road again.

After doing some research into ways of turning up higher in a Google search, he realized there was an alternative to Ad Sense:

“The basic idea, Mr. Telford concluded, was that investing in social media content like blogs and Facebook pages could attract unpaid traffic.”

No kidding, you might say.

Writing blog posts about the best fishing holes in Georgia and other useful tips eventually grew Mr. Telford’s web traffic by 91% in 2012, compared to 2011, the article concludes.

I checked out Cedar Creek Cabin Rentals’ website and they have a nice welcome video too.  But it’s basically an ad.

We need to remember that the rules of good content apply to video too.

If you are doing a video promoting you, your product, and your company, how do you get them to stay past that first 5 seconds and keep coming back?

This is what members of the New York chapter of Ladies Who Launch, a group that helps women entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground, wanted to know when I spoke to them recently.


Like a blog post that promises to impart good information, the way to get people to click on your video is to show, tell, or teach something. And let’s not forget that Google owns YouTube so if you post it there your website is likely to jump up the page when you come up in any Google search.

 No one knowingly wants to watch an ad. So show them something, like my neighbor, attorney Andrew Smiley, does with his “Did You Know?” videos. Or guide them as child psychologist Dr. Heather Wittenberg does with her videos on rearing kids.

The proof that smart video gets results?  Heather contacted me and bought my book after watching some of MY instructional videos.

Still not sure? Check out Camera Ready- the guidebook to coming across well on-camera and make video that people want to watch.  The Foreword is written by Google’s Head of Media and explains more about where video fits into today’s publicity puzzle.

For more video ideas and updates from New Tech City, the segment I host on WNYC, follow me @manoushz on Twitter. 

This post was first published on Personal Branding Blog.

Posted in entrepreneur, future of news, media, media tips, media training, new york times, Popular, Publishing, social media, video ideas
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How to Write for Video: The Checklist for Your Script

Writing your script in a conversational style is key to coming across as relaxed and accessible on camera. It also makes comprehension easier and faster for your viewer, who is probably multitasking.

So take your press release or blog post and translate it into informal and intimate language. Write exactly as if you are speaking aloud.

Engage your audience with sentences that are: 

  1. In the present tense, even if you are recalling a past event. Tap your inner Ken Burns and set the scene vividly.
  2. Active, with minimal use of passive verb structure.
  3. Concise. Break up long sentences with but, so, or and. Keep up the energy by avoiding dependent clauses.
  4. Free of clichés. Phrases like “hanging in the balance” or “only time will tell” don’t describe what is happening.
  5. Linking. Guide your listener by repeating the noun from the previous sentence: “The members signed the treaty. But that treaty failed for several reasons…”
  6. Guided by the video. If you have amazing footage, write minimally to the pictures and let them speak for you.
  7. Friendly. Instead of “What can be learned?” try, “What can we learn?” Include yourself and your audience in your script.

If in doubt, dictate your script and always read it aloud first, to make sure it sounds like a human not a PR robot.

The other night I watched an episode of How It’s Made with my firetruck-crazy 5 year-old. The narrator’s script is painful. Listen to hear how many of her sentences don’t follow the rules of good video writing.

Now here’s an example of a script I wrote to show how to use teleprompter…without looking like you are using teleprompter.

Remember, you’ll always win over the audience by telling a story, rather than delivering a lecture.

For more on how to rock on video, whether on-air or online, check out Camera Ready: my video manifesto was Kickstarter backed and now #23 on Amazon‘s Top Kindle Journalism ebooks…and follow me on Twitter @manoushz.

Posted in media tips, media training, reporting work, video ideas, webcasts
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Stop With the Excuses And Steal These Video Ideas

“It’s too expensive,” or “It’s takes too much time!” These are the reasons I usually get from people as to why they haven’t made a video about their business. And I agree—producing a video never goes as quickly as writing a blog post or a tweet. For some, just uploading a video will require a whole new set of skills.

But with high investment comes great reward. A video will set you apart from your competitors not just because you are better but because the audience will feel they know you. And when they know you, they’ll like you, right? As long as you take the following steps:

1. Use a good microphone. Even more important than good quality video is good quality audio. If the viewer can’t understand what you are saying ,they certainly aren’t going to stick around to watch. Amateur video can be forgiven, amateur sound can’t.

2. Explain something. Give the viewer a reason to watch your video, whether it’s instructive, gives an “insider look”, or is just funny. Don’t just make video so you can say you make video.

3. Go for quality. One well-written and produced video will go much farther than 10 lame ones. Some people disagree with my quality over quantity stance but with the masses of content out there, I think quality is the only way to cut through and catch a potential client’s eye.

So here are some ideas for small business videos…

The Wedding Florist: hire a small production crew for a half-day to come to your workspace. With some pre-production planning, 5 simple videos could be filmed to demonstrate how you create 5 different kinds of bouquets. Don’t worry about people stealing your techniques…by establishing yourself as an expert AND accessible, your brand will grow.

The Local Restaurant: show how kid-friendly you are by interviewing a cross-section of young patrons about their favorite meal on the menu. Just be sure to ask them, “What do you like to eat here and why is it so yummy?” not, “Do you like the food here?” so you don’t get “yes” or “no” (God forbid) for an answer. Edit them together and you’ve got adorable video gold.

The Web Designer: get a friend to interview you about your influences and the aesthetics you feel set your website designs apart from other designers. Over the edited interview, lay in screen-shots of the sites you’ve designed to show potential clients just what you mean and are capable of.

Every video is about telling your story with pictures. So remember to let the visuals do the talking when you can.

For a ridiculous number of other video ideas that you can steal, check out my eBook Camera Ready.

My post about video ideas first appeared on Personal Branding Blog.

Posted in entrepreneur, media tips, social media, video ideas
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How to Walk & Talk On Camera VIDEO

Have you ever wondered why local news reporters love to stroll down the street while talking to the camera? Or maybe you’ve thought, “You know, I’ve been making videos for a while now…it’s time for me to DO something on camera: I’m going to walk and talk AT THE SAME TIME!”

But when is it a good idea to ‘walk the talk’ in a video and when is it just silly and distracting? Walking and talking is not just an exercise in coordination. Watch why and then let me know your tips for spicing up on-camera appearances…

For more on how to be great on camera and connect with your audience, check out the multimedia eBook Camera Ready and follow me on Twitter @manoushz.

Posted in media tips, media training, On-Camera Tips, reporting work, video ideas
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How Format Changes the Tone of Your Video: A Report Done 4 Different Ways

Video isn’t the quickest or cheapest content but it can be the most memorable. To sear your message into viewers’ minds, what can you do differently—or just better—to stand out? Should you make crisp, highly-produced videos that will age well or just post a quick and dirty 30-second video on your blog every day? It depends on with whom you want to connect…and what the competition is doing. Take a look at what’s already on YouTube and other video platforms (like Blip or Vimeo).

Remember: context changes your message. In this example, I’ve taken a random soundbite (this one happens to be about about urban chicken farming) and filmed it 4 different ways for 4 different viewers: a website visitor, a newscast watcher, a casual YouTube surfer, and a documentary viewer.

Watch the montage of on-camera segments and tell me: which style would suit YOUR content best? For more video tips, check out the eBook Camera Ready and follow me on Twitter @manoushz.

Posted in Books, future of news, media tips, On-Camera Tips, reporting work, social media, video ideas, webcasts
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Video Tips: How to Look Good in Bad Situations

If you are going on camera, either making your own video or appearing in someone else’s, it’s YOUR responsibility make sure you look awesome.  Everyone these days is running around conferences and events with video cameras or iPhones. If they grab you for an interview, take the time to make sure your eye line is right, you have enough headroom, and the backdrop flatters you. Small adjustments can make an amateur video look professional, and vice versa. See how in this video and for more check out the eBook Camera Ready:


Posted in Books, conferences, Interviewing, media tips, On-Camera Tips, Popular, smartphones, video ideas
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3 Things to Do Before You “Google Hangout”


Google's Beautiful but Unrealistic Hangout World: The people in this Hangout all have quality webcams and have perfectly framed their shots.

Google Plus Opens Up Hangouts On Air Live Streaming For All.
And as (an awesome resource) puts it, that’s big video news for all of us:

“It’s bringing video power to virtually everyone. It allows others to watch your hangout live streaming session through Google+, YouTube, or your own website at the click of a button.  The possibilities of this feature could be a revolution in online video: meetings, conventions, events can all be broadcast from several unique perspectives.”

But please, before you fire up the webcam to “hangout” with colleagues, take these 3 steps:

1. Frame yourself close-up.

Unless you are giving a tour of your showroom or demonstrating magic tricks, you will look better and connect with the audience faster if the camera shot is pretty close. Otherwise you run the risk of looking like a pinhead and getting lost in your surroundings.

2. Consider your backdrop.
Some people like to do all their on-camera work in front of screens that have been printed with their company’s name all over it. Personally, I think this looks cheesy. I would much rather see your co-chefs cooking behind you or something that tells us about you, even if it’s just your office. If you are a bond trader, let’s see the mayhem. Just don’t put yourself in front of a blank wall.

3. Use a mic.
Yes, get on the mic, get get on the mic. No one will hang out for long if you sound irritating and incomprehensible. You can even just clip your phone’s headphone microphone to your shirt.

Check out these how-to videos for more…

Posted in future of news, media training, Popular, reporting work, social media, webcasts
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Being Your “Best Self” On Camera

When you are making a video for your website or creating a YouTube channel for your company, always aim for a conversational and personable tone. Many of my clients are sorry to hear that even just being yourself on camera requires rehearsing. That’s because just being you probably isn’t enough to reach through the lens and grab the audience. As Oprah says, you need to be your “best self.”  I would argue you need to be yourself but BIGGER. My very unscientific work shows that 95 percent of people who first go on camera are too mellow. In person they are engaging members of society, but on video they come across as boring, dull, and oops, I just turned them off. The other 5 percent are such energetic nutcases that they come across great on camera, or maybe slightly manic and need to turn down the volume. Watch Gary Vaynerchuk Wine Library TV or CNN’s Richard Quest to see what I mean.

You probably know whether you tend to be more reserved or extroverted but surprises always happen when the camera turns on. One mild-mannered student of mine morphed into the Muppet, Guy Smiley. He had watched so much bad local television news that he automatically assumed a plastic persona on camera. With some practice, we turned him into a camera-friendly version of himself.

Watch this video to find out who the Camera Ready experts think are awesome on camera in the fields of broadcast journalism, entrepreneurship, e-retail, and non-profits. Who do you think comes across really well on camera?

Who to Watch for On-Camera Inspiration

Posted in former students, media tips, media training, Popular, Uncategorized, video ideas, webcasts
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Lean Start-Up Notes *plus a few job listings

So I’m hosting mediabistro’s Start-Up Bootcamp and last week we had Eric Ries, founder of the “Lean Start-Up” methodology & a Harvard Entrepreneur-in-Residence, speak.   He is all about getting companies/wanna-be companies “to test their vision continuously, to adapt and adjust before it’s too late”.  In fact, he recommends meeting every 6 weeks (with your partners, or yourself) to evaluate whether you should persevere (in which case, pat yourself on the back, and carry on) or “pivot” (quick, change track and make changes before you run out of $).

His book comes out in September and his blog is very helpful, if a bit wonky (look, I’m just a journalist).  But hey, if you are starting up a company, you better get wonky because as Eric says, “you are creating an institution, not just a product.”

P.S. For the technically minded, a few job listings via friends.

Position: Lead Solutions Architect and Engineer for “Who’s Who Wiki” Project Type: Full-time staff position (following 3-month trial period)Location: Mexico City, Mexico, Start Date: July or August 2011

San Francisco:
General Manager, INTEROP (IT industry’s Leading Event)

Sales Executive, UBM TechWeb (Media/event/online ad sales)

New York:
(Junior) Sales Executive UBM TechWeb (Media/event/online ad sales)

Sales Account Manager UBM TechWeb (Healthcare/Gov’t media/event/online ad sales)

NOTE: This position can also be based in the WASHINGTON DC area, although it would need to be run from a home office.

Posted in Books, conferences, jobs, mediabistro
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