TV news editors choose between dozens of stories on a daily basis; the deciding factor between a story making it on air, or not, often boils down to one thing: visuals. Obviously broadcasters would prefer to shoot their own pictures, but when they don’t have the resources to do that themselves B-roll can become one of the most valuable tools in your PR kit bag.
So what is B-roll?
Is there a but?
Golden rule 1: Shoot the B-roll footage in a news style.
Golden rule 2: Include footage that broadcasters can’t easily film for themselves.
Broadcasters want to film their own pictures and they want to do their own interviews even more. That said, we would include interview clips at the end of a B-roll for a number of reasons:
- It’s a good way of show-casing your spokesperson to broadcasters and might encourage them to do their own interview.
- It’s also a diplomatic route to trying out your spokesperson – and your key messages – without offending anyone!
- If your spokesperson is in demand, but with no availability (or willingness) to do interviews, broadcasters may use the clips anyway.
Why do news teams use B-roll?
Quite simply – budget! Newsrooms have seen their budgets slashed over the last few years as competing formats such as social media have come into play, meaning their teams don’t have the time or money to film new footage for every story.
This presents PR practitioners with an opportunity.
Broadcast bosses will deny using B-roll, but in our experience the journalists at the coal-face, working in the edit suites and newsrooms, will always be grateful for the offer of suitable footage. So if your client is champing at the bit for TV coverage, give them the best possible chance and suggest B-roll.
Is it expensive?
No! As I’ve said above, it needs to look like something a news crew might have filmed for themselves so it’s relatively quick to film – and edit. Some of our most successful B-rolls have been shot and edited in a day, at a cost of around £2, 000.
£2,000 to get on TV? That’s a bargain!
For an example of what B-roll take a look at our sample here, featuring some sights and sounds of London: