8 Video Scripting Tips for PR Pros

Reg Rowe
Reg Rowe

A well-written video script that grabs the viewer’s attention and keeps him/her engaged is the basis of every successful video. If someone won’t watch your video to the end, you’ve lost an opportunity. Viewership drops off severely after 60 seconds; much sooner if you haven’t truly engaged the viewer. Remember, video is a visual medium. With many mobile users automatically muting videos, a compelling visual is critical, too. In today’s “content is king and video is king of content” world, successful videos—B2C or B2B—begin with a well-written script that conveys your message to the appropriate audience as quickly and succinctly as possible.

Writing for online video is similar to other writing public relations professionals do. They all emphasize getting to the point quickly and making it stick with the audience.

Here are some tips to help you craft a better script.

1. ‘KISS.’ Keep It Simple and Short. Obviously, the length of your script/video depends on your audience. While an audience at a trade show break-out session will watch for five or six minutes before tuning out, someone visiting your website could bail on your video in seconds. This also applies to sentences: keep them short, declarative and sans jargon. And lose the commas. No commas in scripts.

2. It’s all about the message. In media training, we talk about media math: 9X1=1 and 3X3=1. That is, if you try to cram nine messages into any writing, the reader/viewer/listener only will retain one of them. If you reduce your messages to three (humans love things that come in threes), and repeat those three times, your audience is likely to recall all three. In video programing, however, to grab the audience you need to reduce it to one key message delivered in a single sentence early in your script. Note: A 60-second marketing video allows only for about 150 spoken words, so choose wisely.

3. Support the message. After you’ve stated your key message, you need to back it up with facts and figures. Tell the reader/viewer/listener how your brand or client’s company will deliver on the key message and provide benefit to the customer. Credible third-party endorsers (subject-matter experts, analysts, satisfied customers, etc.) can provide believability and support your key message.

4. We’re only human. One of the 5 Gospels of News is human interest. People care about people. Focus on the personal benefits your client’s company bring to the world. This will help build trust and keep viewers fully engaged. Stories with a “Slobs Like Us” angle always will grab attention. Show your audience real people your company has helped and the viewer/reader/listener will relate better.

5. Tone it up or down. Don’t write down to or over the heads of your audience. Know your audience intimately, its likes and dislikes, its level of expertise and write accordingly. A video for mechanical engineers will have a much different tone than one for soccer moms. The tone you set will influence the setting, talent used and type of dialogue.

6. ‘WIIFM’ isn’t a radio station. When writing a script, keep in mind what the viewer will be thinking while watching: ‘What’s in it for me?’ ‘Why should I care?’ ‘What is your company/product going to do for me?’ Establishing how you or your client will benefit the audience is critical.

7. Speak up. You’ve written a great script in your mind. Now you need to hear your script out loud. Reading your script out loud will show you where changes need to be made in verbiage, pacing and tone. The way we write is very different from how we speak.

8. Call to action. The idea of your video is to get the viewer to do something. Be sure to include a call to action: buy our product, attend our seminar, download our latest infographic, sign up for special offers, etc.

Knowing your audience (slobs like us), writing short, declarative sentences, conveying your message in the first 10-15 seconds of your video and showing the viewer the benefits your client’s company provides will go a long way in getting your video watched and shared.

CONTACT: Reg Rowe is founder of GrayHairPR, a virtual PR agency based in Dallas, TX. He can be reached at rrowe@grayhairPR.com

This article originally appeared in the June 29, 2015 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.