You have likely heard the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. If this is so, then what is a video worth? That is something to think about when considering how to best reach audiences today with your agency’s message, especially given the widespread use of social media. For example, consider the results of a 2014 survey analysis by the Pew Research Center in which they observed that six out of ten U.S. adults (63%) watch online videos, up from 40% of U.S. adults who watched or downloaded some kind of online video in 2007.¹
With the increase in use of mobile media such as smartphones and tablets, this trend will likely continue into the next decade. Therefore, employers, including Federal Government agencies, would be prudent to take advantage and produce more resources and materials to use for attracting potential recruits, including Millennials.
It would be natural to believe that producing such videos at your agency would be a time-intensive and costly endeavor. Would you be surprised to learn such is not necessarily the case? Today’s advanced technology and ready availability of audio/visual equipment and resources make it easier than ever to create, edit, and publish videos that are as appealing as anything you will see on social media. With the right knowledge and the willingness to experiment with different types of equipment and processes, you can seamlessly develop professional-quality videos to draw attention to your agency and encourage potential job seekers to apply for your positions. Let’s take a look at some of the basics you will need to accomplish this.
First, you will want to select a topic that is broad enough to be interesting to a diverse audience but not so broad that you cannot adequately cover the topic in a brief, two to three-minute video. While people appreciate videos about organizations and positions of interest to them, they will not typically watch a long video – they prefer to receive information in short, “digestible” segments. For example, a topic such as “Understanding Federal Jobs” may be too broad while “What are the Federal Pathways Programs?” might be more manageable and attractive to potential applicants.
Once you have an appropriate topic, you will want to write a word-for-word script that covers the main points you wish to convey. When doing this, consider the old adage that you should “tell them what you are going to say, say it, and then tell them what you just told them.” Keep the text simple and straightforward and you will effectively get your message across. Before finalizing your script, it is always a good idea to have a peer review process in place to get feedback and make any edits or revisions to have the best quality final product.
In the past, it would have been necessary to engage the services of a professional video production service to record and create the video. However, in our technologically advanced world, you can create professional quality videos in-house using excellent equipment that is relatively low-cost and commercially readily available. Of course, you will need someone on staff who is knowledgeable and possesses the skills needed to operate the equipment, hardware and software for the job. In my agency, for example, we work closely with subject matter experts in our Office of Communications. You may have a similar resource available to you or you may have a Public Affairs office, Audio/Visual Office, or a related unit that can help you with your pre-production, recording, and post-production needs.
With that in mind, here is a general list of equipment and other resources you will want to have on hand to produce in-house videos. You will need:
- A teleprompter, which is a display device that you can use in conjunction with a computer to electronically display visual text of your script. This is necessary so that your speaker does not have to have notes in hand while recording the video.
- A professional quality video camera. There are many models on the market from which to choose. The communications or audio/visual staff in your agency will know which camera is best suited for your needs for these types of videos.
- A tripod, to hold the camera steady while you are recording video.
- A professional lighting kit will allow you to properly see the speaker while minimizing or eliminating any shadows that could detract from the quality of the shot.
- A backdrop of your choice, which may be as simple as a sheet or screen with your agency’s logo or as detailed as a “green screen” which can be used to add visual effects during post-production using a graphics program. For example, you may want to display multiple geographic locations similar to what you see when you watch your local weather report.
- A lavalier microphone, which includes a piece that can be connected to your belt and the microphone that is connected to the lapel of your suit. This allows you to speak loudly and clearly without the use of a hand-held microphone so you can get the best sound quality available.
- A boom microphone, which is a directional microphone that is attached to a pole or arm. This device also helps to amplify audio for improved sound without the need for a hand-held microphone and it stays out of the recording shot because it is typically mounted above or to the side of the speaker, outside of the frame of the shot.
- Operator headphones, to allow your technician to monitor the audio quality of the video as you are recording.
- Once your recording is over, you will need some type of video editing software in order to add graphics such as headers and sub headers, bulleted points, and any visual effects that can greatly enhance your final product.
Once your script is ready and you have all of the elements in your studio ready to do the recording, you will want to set a date and get it on everyone’s calendar. Complete any necessary paperwork or documentation your agency requires to formally request assistance to create your video. In my agency, we have a special request form that must be submitted along with a copy of the final script. The script is then added via computer to the teleprompter and you are ready to record.
On the day of recording, I recommend wearing conservative clothing that is simple or plain, i.e., do not wear clothing with bright colors or that includes patterns such as stripes, dots, etc., as these tend to detract from the quality of the recording.
Practice your script several times beforehand in order to time and pace your recording and to work out any potential gestures you will use during recording. For example, if your script includes a numbered or bulleted list, you may want to gesture to the side accordingly while speaking to highlight particular points; during post-production, you can then add corresponding numbers or bullets and/or additional visual effects using your video editing software for emphasis.
Finally, work out a post-production schedule with your communications specialist or technician to determine how best to proceed to “go live” with your final video. This schedule will likely include a period of time of “give and take” to review the added visual effects or graphics and to ensure the wording and timing is correct. When you are nearly ready to “go live,” you will also want to be sure to confirm that closed captioning text is included in the final video to ensure 508- compliance. Once you have the final product and have secured the necessary permissions, you will be ready to publish your video live on your agency’s website or via social media such as YouTube.
Creating videos for recruitment purposes need not be daunting or feel out of reach. With adequate thought, creativity, and preparation, you can be a trend-setter at your agency and publish professional-quality videos that will educate the public about your agency and mission, and attract job seekers for your positions in a fun and exciting way.
¹ Olmstead, Kenneth, Mitchell, Amy, Holcomb, Jesse, Vogt, Nancy. “The Audience for Digital News Videos.” Pew Research Center, March 2014, “State of the News Media 2014: News Video on the Web: A Growing, if Uncertain, Part of News.” 2. Web. 31 Aug. 2016.