"We're Just Going To Shoot Some B-Roll."

A reporter comes to your office to interview you. After the reporter’s crew finishes setting up, you begin the interview. The time moves quickly, the interview ends, and you’re satisfied that you remained on message and compelling throughout.

After you finish, the crew informs you that they’d like to shoot some “b-roll,” or video of you doing something “natural,” such as walking down a hallway or typing on a computer keyboard.

That’s a reasonable request, since the crew just wants to film some shots in case they need to cover over an edit point or spice up their piece with a bit of action.

But beware. It can also get you in a lot of trouble.

When reporters shoot b-roll, too many spokespersons think the “official” interview has ended. They become loose-lipped. And they might say something that will be used against them when the piece airs. Some reporters may even use the b-roll shoot as an opportunity to put you at ease and lead you to drop your guard.

Even more commonly, I’ve seen an “official interview” end, followed by the reporter asking the interviewee to remain seated and saying something like:

“We’re just going to take a few still shots for editing purposes, so would you mind just casually talking with me for a couple of minutes so we can get some good shots?”

An experienced reporter may then drop the tone of his voice to indicate that the “official” interview has ended—and may even lean back in his chair—to give the interviewee the sense that the interview is over. And guess what? Many spokespersons suddenly say something they’ll later wish they hadn’t.

So let the reporter shoot b-roll, take a walking shot, or shoot a few stills. Just stay on message until the reporter and the crew pack up the cameras and drive away.

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