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How to make engaging (or even viral!) video

Posted by Darren Willsher on 28th March 2012

The marketing team has decided to take a foray into the world of video and has tasked you with making a viral – easy right? Just dress the CEO up as a nun, put him or her on a spacehopper then every 30 seconds fire a kitten across the screen and watch the hits roll in. Lovely.

No, no, no, no, no…

First of all, nobody ‘makes’ a viral video. You can make a video and it can go viral, but if you’re being told to make a viral then you’re already in a spot of bother. The other problem is that a lot of viral videos today are just web adverts done well, unless of course you find yourself a corporate FENTON.

The good chaps over at Tiza Video recently came to EML Wildfire to give us a quick introduction to the world of video and how it could be used in technology PR campaigns including some top tips on how not to make a mess of things…

The kit

First of all, what kit do you need? Traditionally buying video equipment would have meant re-mortgaging your gran but nowadays it’s very affordable. Here at EML Wildfire towers we picked up a tripod, lapel mic and decent light for under £100 and by combining them with an iPhone you’ve got a pretty decent video set up.

Granted it’s no use if you want to do ultra-professional shots and zoom in for close ups, but for interviews and trade show talks it does a good job.


Sounds obvious, but say something interesting and keep it short. Don’t try and convey all of your company messaging in two minutes and leave out the technical details of your latest product. Keep to just a handful of topline messages and let them shine through.

While I’m sure the company is capable of expressing its positioning in a two minute dance spectacular, a quick chat to the CEO might be better so keep it simple. It’s almost important to make sure you’ve got the ending sorted, there’s nothing worse than a video ending to someone looking awkwardly up at the cameraman or starting to walk off.

The basics

It’s easy to make a mess of a video, you only need to spend a minute on YouTube to find some glorious examples, including this (deliberate) gem from Twitter.

But making online video doesn’t have to be difficult and getting a few of the basics right can make all the difference.

Sound – Being able to hear the person is essential and poor quality sound can really make a video look terrible. So invest in a separate microphone, it’s worth it and really not that expensive.

Lighting – You don’t need to hire a lighting rig, instead just make sure that person isn’t in direct sunlight and that there’s enough light in the room to bring the film to life.

Stability – Buy a tripod. While there are techniques to keep your hand steady, it’s never going to be as good so make the investment.

Framing – Follow the ‘rule of thirds‘ and make sure the subject isn’t in the centre of the shot.

Know your limits

These tips should give you a pretty good idea of how to avoid the basic errors, but everyone has their limits and when making video you need to know yours. While the iPhone or a basic camcorder will do a good job of simple interviews and videos, with anything complicated a lot more can go wrong and then it might be time to call in the pros.

Darren Willsher

Darren has been with Wildfire for six years and is one of the driving forces behind the agency’s telecoms and networking portfolio, with experience working on a range of international, multi-channel accounts including CSR, Picochip (now Mindspeed), Real Wireless, The Small Cell Forum, Samsung and Allied Telesis.