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Media training for video marketing...

April 03, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

The name of my business is Jacobin Photography.  However, before I became a full time still photographer I was a professional videographer/video editor for ten years.  But just because I've turned to photography doesn't mean I've forgotten my roots.

At the bottom of the post I'm going to share a video I recently made for author Josh Vogt.  Josh is a freelance writer and author.  His debut novel Pathfinder Tales: Forge of Ashes is being released in May.  I worked with Josh earlier this year media training him so that he would be comfortable creating his own videos for his YouTube Channel. 

So what does that look like?  I basically distilled ten years of knowledge gained through trial and error, watching other professionals epic fails, and observing the strategies that were successful into a two page "media plan" customized to him.

Here's the document I created for him:

Josh Vogt – Media Extraordinaire

Media Training Plan

The first step to being successful in media is to have personality.  Without personality all the subsequent training I can provide will be absolutely useless.  So let’s pause for a moment and talk about what having personality LOOKS like.

Having personality on video is about being more than who you are.  This is easier than it sounds because video in general adds a larger than life aspect to any subject.  However, in order to be truly successful at being more than yourself you need to project an image of the person you want to be seen as.  More often than not that persona is going to be the expert.  Everything you say and do on tape needs to reflect your expert status. 

So let’s talk specifically about what currently adds to and detracts from your expert image.


  • Well spoken

  • Coherent

  • Snarky


  • Intelligent

  • Quiet

We’ll work through these more specifically as we continue through the rest of the training.  I simply want you to keep them in the back of your mind as we move forward into some general video dos and don’ts. 

Sometimes personality can negatively impact a video product.  For example, thick accents or annoying speaking habits can draw attention away from the message.  While these can’t always be controlled or changed there are some general bad habits that many people have that I’d like to address. 

When on video DO NOT:

  • Talk with your hands

  • Begin a sentence with “Um”, “Hmmm”, “That’s a good question”, etc.

  • Begin your answer with the words “Yes” or “No”

  • Go off on a tangent

  • Interrupt the person asking the question

You DO however want to:

  • Smile, A LOT

  • Speak slowly

  • Speak clearly

  • Speak concisely

  • Speak conversationally

  • Use the language of the question when answering

If you need a second to collect your thoughts, take one or two deep breaths before you begin speaking.  While this will feel like an awkward pause to you it looks natural on camera.

So now, take a deep breath or two and let’s practice.  I want to start by playing to one of your strengths, specifically, your ability to be snarky…

Exercise 1: I am going to hand you a random nearby object.  I want you to look directly into the camera and sell it to me.  Take as much or as little time as you need to get me to buy this product.  The only limitation I’m placing on you is that you have to be a snarky salesman.

Okay, hopefully that was sufficiently awkward.  Now that we’ve focused on bringing out a specific strength let’s look at how we can get a combination of them on video.  Remember your dos and don’ts going into this exercise.

Exercise 2a:  It’s time for lights, camera, action.  I am going to hit the record button on the camera now and I want you to introduce yourself.  Take as long as you need, and say whatever you’d like.

This exercise is twofold for a reason.  We’re addressing one of the most important dos and don’ts on your list in this second part.  This time – I’ve written you a script for the introduction.  And yes, you are stuck reading my version which I am refusing to provide to you until we’re ready to use it because I don’t want you to practice it beforehand.  I want you to see how difficult it can be to remain conversational when reading something off a screen.

Exercise 2b: Script redacted

Okay cool – so now we have two versions of the same video that should allow us to compare and contrast answers to the question, “Who is Josh Vogt?”

This brings us to our next topic: how to stay on topic.  There are a million different ways to approach every subject.  This isn’t math so I’m not going to tell you that there’s one answer.  There isn’t.  However, for media training purposes there is a specific technique I’d like you to practice.

We’re going to take short detour from the realm of video into the world of Public Relations.

The PR technique I want you to focus on right now is developing talking points.  You need to have some idea of what your talking points are for every single event you anticipate media attention of any kind at.  This will allow you to tightly control your message and return any and all irrelevant questions back to what YOU want to be talking about.

Exercise 3: We’ve been at this for a bit now and I think it’s time for a distraction.  Below you will find three talking points I have identified for a subject you should be very familiar with.  I’m going to conduct an interview with you regarding this subject – sort of.  Good luck.

  • Pathfinder Tales: Forge of Ashes release
  • The book is based on the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game

  • The main character is a dwarf

Sweet.  I have a feeling I just had some fun at your expense (or at least that’s my evil plan) so I’m just going to go ahead and apologize in advance.  I’m going to give you a break from listening to my voice for just a second to make up for it.

Well, actually, we’re going to take a thirty second break because the next media related item we need to discuss is timing.  This next exercise is designed to show you exactly how long thirty seconds can seem.

Exercise 4: Sit and stare at each other silently for thirty seconds.

Okay great, so now you’ve lived every television producer and anchor’s worst nightmare.  Now that you know how long thirty seconds is let’s move on to the next exercise.

Exercise 5:  Talk for thirty seconds about any subject you’d like to discuss.  Stop when you believe you’ve reached the designated amount of time.

Alright, time to assess how you did.  Depending on the results we may or may not need exercise six, but I’m putting it in here just in case.

Exercise 6:  Begin speaking about any subject.  You are once again trying to speak for as close to thirty seconds as possible – however this time – I will stop you when you reach time.

So why have you just wasted a minute and a half of your life alternately staring awkwardly at something in my basement or talking about I don’t even know what?  Because thirty seconds is timeframe that video deals in frequently and one you should be very familiar with.

However, the average human response time to a question is much longer than the thirty seconds I just gave you.  It’s much closer to if not slightly longer than a minute.  Is this a problem?  Depends on who you’re talking to – which brings us to our next topic.

Traditional broadcast media does not use minute long SOTs.  They are looking for something much much shorter – which is what I want you to be able to provide through the previous exercise.

However, you’re not always going to be talking to traditional media.

Whenever you’re approached by someone who wants to record you need to know:

  • Who am I talking to?

  • What is your story/angle?

  • How will I be used?

  • When can I see it?

  • Where can I see it?

  • Can I link to it?

Remember – ultimately you are in control of every interaction with media.  The camera can only record what you say.  The person that learns how to pull video out of their butt is going to be a multi-trillionaire.  Until that day however, if you carefully control your image and your message you have the power.

This document was sent to Josh ahead of time.  We then met and proceeded to work through the exercises listed here.  I provided additional live feedback on his performance as we worked.

However - we still needed a focus and Josh gave me one though the specific problem he wanted his YouTube Channel to solve for him as outlined here:


Media Sheet: Josh Vogt

Josh’s Problem: Author Josh Vogt currently has little to no online media presence and is looking to build one before the release of his first novel, Forge of Ashes, in order to help promote both him and the book.

Because, as an author, he is a relatively new voice he is currently something of an unknown quantity.  While well known to others within the industry due to his appearance at numerous cons and participation in the panels at those events, he has yet to establish a broad-spectrum national identity outside of his group of peers.

Video Goals:

  • Self-promotion of the release of Forge of Ashes

  • Creation of a visually identifiable persona

  • Establishment of an identity or professional persona that serves as an accurate reflection of the in-person experience (aka “Come see me at cons because I’m just that awesome!”)

  • Creation of a product that allows fans who cannot meet Josh in person to get to know him

  • Curation of a fan base in order to create a larger market for future releases

So who is this enigma? – Josh Vogt is a freelance writer and author working in the tie-in fiction, fantasy, horror, and sci-fi generas.

And what problem does Josh Vogt solve for me, the reader? – The central purpose of all marketing it to identify a problem and present a product based solution.  Buy this and your issue will have resolution!

However, when the product you’re hawking is a person the marketing becomes slightly more complex.  Establishment of a personal brand is essential.  But Josh doesn’t have one…yet.

So we’re going to go from general to specific.

What problem does reading a story solve for me, the consumer?

Stories ENTERTAIN.  Stories envelope the reader in another world allowing them temporary escape from their own lives.

Stories CONNECT.  The oral history of storytelling is as old as humanity itself.  While the written word is newer it serves the same basic purpose: it gives humans a meaningful way to connect with the past and the individuals who existed in that time.  While fictional work identifies less with this specific purpose it remains character driven.  It gives the reader identifiable individuals from which they can draw inspiration.

Reading stories KILLS TIME.  Boredom is one of life’s unavoidable nuisances.  Hobbies of all forms, including reading, help the reader fill otherwise empty hours of the day.

Reading makes people APPEAR MORE INTELLIGENT.  Again, not a particularly glamorous aspect of the hobby but it’s true.  Readers want to present a certain persona and having read the latest, greatest best seller helps many people maintain the façade of intelligence.

Stories GIVE PEOPLE SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT.  This is different than connection in that it is less about readers connecting to the work than it is about helping them connect to one another.  Stories give people something to discuss.  They create a sense of community amongst individuals who have nothing to do with the creation of the actual work.

Well look at that.  Josh is an author.  So now we have five central problems he can solve on video.

  1. How is Josh Vogt going to entertain me?
  2. How is Josh Vogt going to help me connect?
  3. How is Josh Vogt going to help me kill time?
  4. How is Josh Vogt going to help me appear more intelligent?
  5. What is Josh Vogt going to give me to talk about?

His unique way of answering these questions will become his brand for video purposes and will allow his audience to get to know him as a person while giving them something to become a fan of.

The questions I asked Josh throughout the process became the content I used to create a sample video for him demonstrating one technique he could employ when he began making his own videos.

You can see the results here:

You can see the videos Josh has since made here:

And by all means please check out his novel Forge of Ashes which is available on Amazon as a pre-order now.  He just recently revealed the finalized cover art which you can see here:








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