Video Tips from Ragan, HBR and Malone Media

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"It's an expert in front of a whiteboard, schoolroom style," explained Maureen Hoch, editor of Harvard Business Review's, about their successful forays into Facebook Live, at a summit this week in Berlin. (The quotes come from an article on FIPP.)

"We had a lot we had to figure out with the early videos, what was the right length, what was the right production quality. But, when we could put the expert and their idea as close to the audience as possible, that was the most important thing and a lot of the other details fell into place."

On June 5 at the SIPA Annual 2018 Conference in Washington, D.C., Brian Malone, president of Malone Media, will present a Pre-Conference Workshop titled "A Stream Come True: Using Facebook Live, YouTube and Streaming Tech to Gain Greater Exposure." Malone used to work for another SIPA member, Ragan Communications, before going out on his own.

Here are 10 tips on video and Facebook Live from Malone and others:

1. Plan as much as you can... Malone once told me that the biggest mistake he sees in video is that not enough pre-production or planning goes into it. "Nobody has read a script, rehearsed anything; it's just an on-the-fly table read. You can't just start rolling." Adds Beki Winchel in a recent post on Ragan: "Facebook Live videos should be authentic and are often unscripted, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't plan an outline with specific goals for each live stream."

2. ...But try to keep a feeling of authenticity. "I think audiences really appreciate brands being vulnerable like that in lieu of the heavily produced and scripted videos that are everywhere," said Brie Strickland, social business specialist for Southwest Airlines, in that Ragan article.

3. Edit strongly where needed. "You have to go through footage and make sense of it sometimes," Malone said. "People may think they're saving time by skipping pre-production, but then you're really wasting time if you don't do that."

4. Find "talent" who believes in live-streaming projects. Hoch said that their enthusiasm will show and connect with the audience. "As soon as Evan [Baehr, one of their speakers,] started talking and believed in connecting with that audience, views and comments went up." 

5. Experiment. "Publishers are going to have to create some room for experimenting on new things," Hoch said. "And they're really going to have to understand how to engage their subscribers... When you're starting something new, you have to decide whether there is a spark with it." HBR has also launched a bot on Facebook Messenger.

6. Invest in a good mic, Malone said. "There is no excuse for bad audio. Nothing else matters much if you can't hear things clearly."

7. Focus on your viewers. "Southwest goes live to satisfy one or more of the following areas—to celebrate, inform and recruit," Strickland said.

8. Create a place where you can listen to your customers. Southwest uses a Listening Center each day to "scour social for what [its] customers are thinking, feeling and sharing," said Strickland. "We live in a world where people love sharing their stories; they just need a place to do it and to know someone is listening."

9. Test before going live. "I would recommend [Facebook Live] to anyone but you do have to test [your set-up] first," said Donna Jefferson of Jefferson Communications who has had success with Facebook Live. (Read my article on her experience with it.) In her test, the camera reflected badly on screen. And in somebody else's that she knows, the image was showing up sideways and then up-side down. She quickly let them know and 30 seconds later it was good.

10. Try different topics. Of the 100 or so Facebook Live videos that HBR has filmed and published, topics have included the history of leadership, Blockchain, time management techniques and types of organizational performance. "The other thing about doing them on Facebook Live platform, was that people wanted to engage with us in that way, which led us to pursue the format," Hoch said.

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…