Get your act together with video, or give it up
Andy Dickinson has written a 2008 prediction post that’s a must-read for every newsroom — not only because he predicts the death of newspaper video (there’s some juicy link bait!) but also because his insights point the way to producing video in a manner that would enhance your Web site and better serve your audience.
I’m going to spin Andy’s ideas here in an effort to get you thinking smarter. Be sure to read his post — he has lots more there.
1. Get your act together on your site’s metrics. If you don’t know exactly how many people are watching each one of your videos, and when, and for how long, then what the heck are you doing? I mean, how can you even tell if the audience likes one type of video more than another? Do you discuss this in your newsroom? Do you publicize the numbers? Why not? (Are you afraid to admit you don’t know what you’re doing?)
2. Get your act together on a strategy for video stories. Who shoots, and why? Each day, which stories are selected for video, and why? Are the criteria clear? Are they written? Are they discussed? Do you do a debriefing each day about yesterday’s video — what worked and what didn’t work — and why?
3. Get your act together on workflow for video. Who edits the video, and how long does it take? How fast do you get it up online? Who posts it online? Is there a bottleneck? Do people have adequate access to equipment and software for editing and compressing and uploading? Is this workflow clear to everyone involved? Have you asked for suggestions on how to improve it?
4. Get your act together on placement and promotion. Can the audience even find your videos? Can people easily e-mail links to their friends? Do the links break after one week? Are the videos tagged for SEO and topped with a proper headline in every case? Do you have a decent video player that works properly for most of your audience? Are videos promoted in the print newspaper and also on the home page of the Web site? Are they linked directly to related stories?
5. Get your act together on making money from your video. If you do not have pre-roll on every video AND you also do not have a big-money sponsored ad on the video player page — why not? Is it because nobody watches your video? (If that’s the case, see Nos. 1 – 4 above.) If you have people coming to the site and watching your video, then it’s high time you start selling ads on it. Jump over that wall, walk up to the VP of advertising, and make him or her watch your videos. Explain your strategy (see No. 2). Discuss the metrics (see No. 1). Insist that the ad department come up with a plan to sell ads on your video by the end of January. If they can’t do it, then you’re going to prove Andy right. Your video is going to die this year.