Television B-roll is video footage we film to illustrate a PR generated story. It’s a fantastic asset for maximizing coverage on TV. Never has it been so in demand, particularly since the start of the pandemic.
Broadcasters would obviously prefer to film their own footage, but a frantic news agenda combined with newsroom cutbacks means they don’t always have the resources to do that. In such cases B-roll can prove invaluable, but only if it’s produced in a particular way.
We have 2 golden rules to guarantee it gets used.
GOLDEN RULE 1:
B-roll is around 6 to 8 minutes of roughly edited video footage that illustrates a PR generated story. It is not a finished product – it will be re-edited by the broadcaster, and possibly mixed and matched with footage they’ve shot themselves.
B-roll is only ever likely to be used on the news, therefore it should be shot in a “news style” and look like material broadcasters would have filmed for themselves.
Good visuals are key, but B-roll can include a handful of sound bites from key spokespeople.
GOLDEN RULE 2:
Give broadcasters something they couldn’t easily film for themselves. These days that’s a lot easier than it used to be: anything that takes time to film, or travel to, an event that’s outside London….the list is endless. The dog tick above/below is a good example as we needed a macro lens to film it.
Broadcasters want to film their own footage and they want to do their own interviews even more. It’s all about maintaining editorial control. As former journalists ourselves we absolutely understand their stance.
That said, we would still include a selection of interview soundbites at the end of a B-roll for these reasons:
It’s a good way of showing broadcasters how good your spokesperson is. It might even encourage them to do their own interview.
In the most diplomatic way possible you can try the spokesperson out, before letting them loose with journalists. How well do they explain what the company is? Do they know the key messages?
Short of crews but wanting to run the story broadcasters may (just may) use the clips anyway!
WHY DO NEWS TEAMS USE B-ROLL?
It’s all down to money, or lack of it. Newsrooms operate much more on a shoe-string these days and don’t always have the time or money to film new footage. Instead they rely on live interviews, library pictures – or B-roll.
Broadcast bosses will deny using B-roll, but we know down at the coal-face, journalists are often grateful for a few minutes of well shot footage, produced in a newsroom style.