"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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This is an excellent point. I’ve never gotten in trouble with this, but I never assume that anything is off the record, even with reporters with whom I have a good rapport.
Thanks, Art. I’ve played with this during my trainings on occasion – you’d be shocked how many people fall for it.
Sounds like you have the right idea about this, so keep it up!
Thanks for reading,
Great safety tip! Seen it happen too often. On a related note, be careful who you trust with media reps. While 99.9% of the reporters I’ve work with are great folks, there are going to be ones with agendas, and they won’t hesitate to use roaming around for b-roll phase to find spur-of-the-moment interviews. Had a “perfect storm” event occur once where the Boss assigned an inexperienced escort to a media team with an agenda who wound up interviewing the MOST disgruntled employee in the place.
Yeah, that one left a mark. 🙂
Great comment, John. I’ve found that camerapersons can be a little like mice–they disappear into little nooks and crannies looking for a shot and are very hard to find and keep track of. When I escort the media through our facility, I try to do it with one other person, so that if one needs to accompany the cameraperson another can stay with the reporter(s).
The easiest way to avoid issues is to treat all interactions as on the record.
I blogged about a related topic before: http://www.christophsblog.com/good-ideas-just-happen-after-scheduled-events/
I’d also recommend avoiding b-roll that shows you walking away from the camera. One never knows how this might be worked into a story.
My ground rule has always been…I’ll walk toward the camera if you’re that desperate for b-roll…but I have a personal practice of avoiding having my back shot as I walk away.
I’m amazed people allow the network news magazines to do this to them all the time.
Brad, At my former agency, us media trainers would tell the story of the CEO who had just completed the interview and when asked by the reporter about his relocation, he mentions that he loves the city but his wife is not adjusting well to her new home. The reporter, in his story, mentions that the CEO may not be long for the job here, because his wife is homesick.
Stay on message, don’t get personal, because what you say on the record remains there.
I’ve gotten burned in this situation… Live n’ learn? We chatted before the interview with the “on the record” and “off the record” segway. MOST honor it and you don’t even speak to the issue. If the reporter will need you for future copy they will certainly live by the unwritten deal, but unfriendly, gotcha, usually liberal, pinko, commie types (which s about 83% of the media) will always go for the slam and career opportunity. What I have found though, politics aside, if you are very, very witty, can make them laugh and hence make their rather dull mundane story a comedy bit, they will go softly on you. I guess in the aggregate the great, corrupt maya of Boston Maya Curley once said; “I don’t care what they write about me as long as they spell my name right.”
@Adam other then the fact I dont want anyone seeing my big fat ass, let alone on television, why would you care if you walk to or from? I mean I would love an example of how either matter in great detail?
Thanks for this comment (and the others you left!). At the risk of speaking for someone else (Adam), I think the logic behind not showing the “walking away” shot is that it can be made to look like you’re running away from or avoiding the cameras, especially in an ambush. For everyday situations, that might not be as much of a factor.
To John Boyle:
Mr. Boyle, In this perception-is-reality world of ours…the last thing I want to give a TV station is a shot of me walking away. That video might be used one day for another story on which I haven’t been as responsive as the station thinks I should have been. All they have to do is write a script indicating we haven’t gotten back to them and then lay that video over it.
I want to be seen coming toward them…engaging them…not walking away and possibly perceived as avoiding them.
Plus, it’s the old rule of the stage…never turn your back on the audience.