Contributed by Hallie Wynn
“Why should I hire a writer for my video? I have a website and brochures, why do I need to spend any more money to have someone else write any more?” Well written copy is a powerful weapon in any business’ arsenal, it is often the first important impression your clients have of your business. Sure, interesting pictures, artistic fonts and pleasing colors grab attention first, enough to make the visitor to your site want to learn more about your business. It is the copy that will tell them if yours is the right product or service for them. It is a balancing act. Include just enough technical jargon to demonstrate your expertise, not so much that your reader is bored or put off. Talk a little about yourself; show yourself to be accessible and able to communicate with clients, remember this is about the business and not you. Proof your copy, then proof it again. Don’t show yourself to be ignorant or lazy by publishing spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes.
“I’ve done all this, my website is doing very well and I get great feedback from clients and even web designers. What does any of this have to do with writing for video?”
Video is a different medium. What works on the page, what you already have on your site, does not necessarily work for video. Smart exposition is suddenly wordy and unnecessary. Writing for video is not just about the copy, it also about what not to say. What might take a full paragraph to describe could be just a moment on video.
“The great fish moved silently through the night water, propelled by short sweeps of its crescent tail. There was little other motion: an occasional correction of the apparently aimless course by the slight raising or lowering of a pectoral fin – as a bird changes direction by dipping one wing and lifting the other. The eyes were sightless in the black and the other senses transmitted nothing extraordinary to the small, primitive brain.”
– Peter Benchley
As you read you begin to understand the power of the great fish. The film opened with a shot of movement across the surface of the water and two musical notes (the start of one of the most powerful themes ever written for film). As the swimmer fought for her life in the opening sequence of Jaws the viewer knew instantly the power of the fish, as well as the fear that would permeate the film. While your goal is not to scare your clients, it is to make a powerful impression.
Once you have decided video is right for your business your first meeting should be with the writer. What do you want to say? It is up to the writer to say it. The biggest mistake most businesses make with their videos is that they are overwritten. They get clunky and weighed down. The message gets lost or stated so often it’s uninteresting and dull, the video runs too long. Then there are those that are underwritten, many trying so hard to be artistic they say nothing at all. The writer is your translator, making your statement understood within the medium. Make sure your writer understands your business and what you wish to say to your clients. A good writer may push you to say things a particular way and you should listen; knowing how best to say something is why you’ve hired a writer. A responsible writer will never look to change what you wish to say.
Great video is collaboration. Unlike your website or brochure, writers don’t just tell the story, they take your vision and lay the foundation upon with the director will build your video.
“Show me, don’t tell me.” Video writers understand that the written word is only the beginning of a great video. They know not to just talk about what your business has to offer, your website already does that. Video writers understand the goal is to show off your product, to demonstrate your service. Let the video weave its magic.