Video Marketing

Video Marketing

Lights, camera, video marketing: What you need to know to prepare to be on video and TV. 

By Bill Corbett Jr. 

Imagine for a moment you are sitting in a cold, brightly-lit studio with a half-a-dozen people running in all directions. You see multiple flat screen monitors around the set and most have “your” image on them. A few minutes later, you hear in your ear that you are “going live on the air in 30 seconds.” The show host, whom you have never met before, rushes in and gives you a nod. Moments later, the red light on the camera in your face goes on. You are live on the air and now it’s time to perform.  

Does this sound a little unnerving? Well it is, and there is a level of nervousness and stress even for media professionals who are on camera every day. The same anxiety and emotion can come, in a similar way, when recording a segment for local news or recording your own videos on social media for your franchise business.   

We live in a world where consumers from all geographic areas, of all ages and every demographic are hooked on video. Video is the preferred way that people receive information, entertainment and news today and this is expected to be the case for the foreseeable future. Millions of Americans still say that TV news is their primary source of news, with 37 percent relying on local TV news; 26 percent say they get their news from network broadcasts and 28 percent get it from cable news networks. 

With the continued popularity and preference for online mobile video content on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, it is clear that every franchise must have a video marketing strategy. Last year I outlined video marketing strategies in my Franchising Today article “The Video Game,” published in October 2017.  

Learn to Legerage It

To compete for brand recognition, customers, employees and market share, franchisees need to learn how to leverage video. Media interviews and produced videos featuring franchisees or franchisor executives must be secured and approached using a professional process. It is critical that franchisees receive training to be effective on camera in interviews or corporate marketing videos. 

Many franchisors offer marketing support and training, especially during the onboarding process. Marketing manuals and policies must be updated to include a greater emphasis on video. This is certainly a challenge for franchise companies, particularly large publicly traded franchisors. The desire to control messages and marketing is understandable and, for this reason, marketing support from franchisors must take current trends into consideration. 

The fact is that many franchise owners are active on social media and are producing content for the public as well as customers on both their personal social media accounts along with their branded pages. Franchisors have to develop video production and posting policies to protect their brands. At the same time franchisees need to learn how to adapt to these policies and remain in compliance with their franchise agreements.

For franchises to gain a competitive advantage, marketing and video training must be comprehensive and consistent. This will ensure messages are prepared and delivered effectively. Annual franchisee conventions and meetings must be used to educate and train owners to keep them on message. Webinars, seminars and training programs with media training professionals should all be used to enhance quality.

Franchise owners and their teams are on the front lines of branding and customer engagement. These are the people who interact with customers daily, manage employees and spread the positive messages that create brand awareness, loyalty and trust. They are the profit engine that drives the franchise system’s growth and success.  The power of what these owners possess must be a leveraged and used as part of video marketing.  

Having a great message combined with a well-known brand assists in setting the stage for interviews and video appearances. However, for video and TV media interviews, the message is only as good as the person delivering it. The messenger, be it a representative of the master franchisor, a franchise owner, manager or employee, must be ready when the camera’s red light goes on. A poorly prepared interviewee or presenter can do significant damage to a brand as well as the personal reputation of the individual appearing in the video.

What Do Experts Say?  

“I have interviewed many celebrities and have had hundreds of businesspeople on my program over the past 10 years,” says Donna Drake, host and TV producer of Live It Up! with Donna Drake. “Most guests, especially first-timers who have never been in a studio or on camera, are often nervous and anxious. I explain to them to, instead of thinking that they are nervous, transform that feeling into one of excitement. I have seen this work many times.” 

“Shows like mine are friendly environments where our goal is to have the guest provide information and tell their stories. We make it clear that there is nothing to fear and this is a great opportunity to share and build your brand. Guests leave the studio feeling energized,” she added.

How Do You Prepare?  

Today with growth in the use and popularity of smartphones (I call them PMDs: personal marketing devices), many franchise owners are already experienced at playing the role of actor, spokesperson, reporter, videographer and producer. This is an excellent step toward getting comfortable on video.

Practice and preparation are critical before going on video, no matter whether it is Facebook Live or a live TV news broadcast. According to Antoinette Biordi, a professional television journalist and news anchor with over 20 years of experience, “If you are going on TV you must be completely prepared. Start by thinking about what you are going to say, and if you are going to be interviewed write down all of the questions you think you are going to be asked. Also consider questions that you hope reporters will not ask. Do all you can to ensure you are not surprised or caught off guard.” 

News stories are produced and edited very quickly, and quality sound bites are what editors, reporters and producers are looking for. “In this case, it is important that the person being interviewed understand that news outlets can’t use long 30 or 45 second answers,” Biordi says. “Keep it short, be informative and get to the point.”

Drake, who has interviewed hundreds of celebrities and business people, often has the opportunity to have longer conversations with guests on her show. “I take the time to get information from my guests ahead of time and they often know the questions I am going to ask,” she says. “This allows them to feel much more at ease. Together we tell the story and provide the audience the information that guests want them to have. It’s my job to ask the questions as well as make the conversation fun and engaging.”

On my TV program, Inspiring Stories with Bill Corbett, I often have people on who have never been on TV or have never been in a professional studio before. There have been times when where this environment becomes so overwhelming that we see guests’ energy levels sink, they literally slump down in the chair. Instead of psyching themselves up for their appearance, they become disconnected. 

 I make it clear when guests arrive for a program that no matter what they are feeling, they need to push their energy level up to 120 percent. I encourage guests to be animated as well as focused. Guests who take this approach are more likable and engaged. This makes for a better show.   

“Body language is as important as the spoken word on video,” Biordi notes. “You also have to think about your physical appearance. Don’t wear bold patterns; instead wear pleasing bright colors.”    

Practice Your Smile

“Smiling is a critical component of TV appearances,” Drake adds. “A smiling guest simply looks better on video.”

It might sound a little strange but practicing your smile and talking while smiling is essential. Facial expressions can make or break an interview. To see how you look when responding to questions, practice answering while looking in the mirror. If a facial expression or gesture does not look right, change it.

Having too much energy may cause some challenges. Using hands to gesture during an interview is fine; however, fast-moving, waving and abrupt pointing should be avoided. When hands are not being used, Drake recommends leaving them in your lap or at your side.   

Controlling energy also means concentrating and keeping an eye on the interviewer and not moving too much in your seat. Rocking side to side or back and forth is distracting and gives the impression that the guest is uncomfortable. To limit this from happening, keep hands together with fingers laced, along with both feet firmly planted on the floor.

“When you are being interviewed, it’s important to look at the interviewer, speak clearly and confidently,” Biordi says. “Looking up, down and around when the camera is recording does not make for the best shot and projects to the audience that the interviewee may not know what they are talking about.” 

A quality TV or video appearance can make a huge difference in your career. It can attract attention as well as assist you and your franchise brand to become better known in your market.    

A poorly executed TV interview has the potential of hurting your image and the franchise network you work with. Should the media find you an ineffective guest, they likely will refuse your future interview requests. An even worse scenario is that the media finds a competitor who is more comfortable and articulate. In this case, they will focus on them and make them their go-to expert. This becomes a competitive disadvantage for you and your franchise brand.    

Today, every smart phone has a video camera ready for use. Use these devices to practice by having others both ask you questions and review your recorded responses. Feedback is important and will help you to perfect your skills.

Using Teleprompters

Some people find it very challenging to memorize their talking points and interview responses. While this is not an option for most guests on TV, there are a number of teleprompter apps and software that can be used with smart phones.   

“The key when using at teleprompter is that the words need to be your own,” Biordi notes. “For example, when I am anchoring a newscast, sometimes I might change some words to be more conversational without changing the meaning of the story. This makes it easier to read back and it doesn’t sound like am reading.” 

Biordi’s point is very important: It is critical to not to speak in a way that appears that you are reading. Also, refrain from moving your head or eyes in such a way that viewers can tell you are using a teleprompter, notes or cue cards. 

Teleprompters, notes and cue cards are all good tools to use. However, they should only be used as a support tool not as a replacement for preparation. If you are going to use teleprompters, cue cards or notes as part of producing videos, make a commitment of honing your on-camera reading skills.

Video is critical for marketing today, and investing in franchisees’ video training is a significant competitive advantage. Those who embrace this approach will be two or even three years ahead of competitors. 

Bill Corbett Jr. is president of Corbett Public Relations and host of Inspiring Stories, a local TV program seen in New York. Corbett can be reached at and followed on Twitter as well as Instagram at @wjcorbett.


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