Content is King, but not when it’s out of focus!

Picture of Roddy Scott

Roddy Scott

The media landscape is changing and PR must move with it.

At Hot Tin Roof, we recognise the importance of telling stories in an accessible and clear way. Bill Gates agrees. It was Gates who coined the phrase ‘content is king’ in an essay back in 1996. 

He wrote: “The television revolution that began half a century ago spawned a number of industries….but the long-term winners were those who used the medium to deliver information and entertainment.

And that’s exactly what we do here at Hot Tin Towers. Our in-house film production capabilities mean global agencies like Reuters commission us to film on their behalf and we are increasingly using film and audio to ‘pitch’ our clients’ stories to journalists. Sometimes letting a reporter ‘see’ the story is the best way to sell it to them.  

The quality of the cameras on smartphones these days means anyone can call themselves a filmmaker (and there are plenty of amateurs out there who can create great content, particularly, it seems, on Instagram) but if it were just as simple as just pointing and pressing record then Steven Spielberg would have been out of a job years ago.


So, some simple tips for those who want to develop their film content:

  1. Always film with your target channel/media in mind. For example, broadcasters will want footage in landscape format, whereas Instagram is exclusively portrait. 
  2. Always consider the editing process whilst you’re filming. Don’t overfilm but make sure you capture enough footage to be able to tell the whole story in a visually interesting fashion.
  3. What’s going on in the background? Is it distracting? You don’t want the noise of a heavy duty drill drowning out your interviewee or someone swigging a can of lager behind an academic talking about a particularly serious issue.
  4. If you’re not 100% happy with a shot or an answer, film it again. Your client will thank you for the extra take in the long run if it makes them look or sound better.
  5. If you want to be brave, ignore convention. That is not to say ignore the basics above but as ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”  (Yes, we know he wasn’t talking about filming.)
  6. Finally, remember to press record. You might laugh but it’s happened to almost all camera operators at one time or another.

Recent research found that nearly two-thirds (64%) of UK adults use online intermediaries to access news, with Meta – the company which owns Facebook and Instagram – being the third largest source of news in the UK after the BBC and ITV.

More significantly, seven in ten 16–24-year-olds (71%) in the UK now use social media to keep up with news, and this does not appear to change as they get older. These are the PR consumers of the future so it’s worth considering how sites like TikTok packages its news content. So far, none of our clients has asked us to produce content for the likes of TikTok but it surely won’t be long before that changes.

Of course, not all stories are filmable, but film and audio content is becoming almost as important as the written word in public relations. It’s time to channel your inner Spielberg.

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