What I learned from listening to myself

by Craig Sinclair

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

Teaching PR Professionals to make the most of mobile videos for business taught me a few things about myself as well.

Image of Craig Sinclair Videographer from Holyrood PR for his blog about how to make mobile video

HAVING shot and edited thousands of hours of video for a huge range of businesses across Scotland, I know just how daunting some people find it when they have to stand in front of the camera.

I’ve never fully understood that inexplicable fear and what it is that makes people in that situation feel such nerve-shredding dread. Until now.

Y’see, I recently found myself  taking to the stage at an event for almost 120 communications professionals and giving a talk on how to get the best business advantages from mobile phone video.

Today I’m delighted to share both the 40 minute video of that presentation, or for those on a tighter timescale, my top five tips that can help anyone in business – from startup to corporate giant – get value from mobile phone video.

First up, here are the quick, actionable highlights – my five top tips for using mobile video on iPhone or Android:

  • Start with an idea that you and everyone would want to watch. Without a solid hook to keep your audience interested your video isn’t going to take off. Any if you don’t find the video interesting it’ll be a struggle to see it through from pre-production to distribution. From the core idea, other elements like gear, schedule, talents, editing, effects, wardrobe colour will all stem out.
  • Know your phone. Every is different and the defaults are always in play. It’s always worth finding out what your iPhone or Android can do and setting that against who you’re making the video for and where the video is going to end up (Facebook, YouTube? Instagram?)
  • Utilise lighting so you don’t strain the sensor of your mobile, and make your videos look great. If you are about to set up an interview, look at where the biggest light source is. A few lights on the ceiling are going to cast shadows around your subjects eyes. But what we want is to see the eyes of the people we talk to. So why not set up a desk lamp a couple of feet away and prop it up eye-level. Or conduct the interview near a window with some natural light. Don’t forget to see what your background looks like.
  • Did you know you can use your Handsfree headphones as a lapel mic? Most phones will actually let you use the built-in mic on your headphones when recording video. Which is brilliant if you are standing within headphone reach of your subject in a busy environment. Try it in test shots first to find the best situations to use this.
  • Invest small to really make videos look professional. Whether it’s a gorilla tripod, a selfie stick, earphone splitter or Mic adaptor, your videos will dramatically look more professional.

Of course, if you want even more detail, advice and insight, I’d urge you to watch the full video (embedded below, or by following this link to the Holyrood PR YouTube channel). As an extra tip, if you do watch it on the YouTube channel, there are 16 separate chapter markers to let you easily get to the sections most useful to you).


And after my butterflies settled and I got over the terror of standing on stage in front of an expectant, 80-strong audience who attended my event, what did I learn from the experience?

ONE – Challenge self doubt.

I’ve coaxed and coached many people, persuading them to overcome their natural reluctance about appearing on camera. When I first agreed that Capture Media would be the formal video sponsor of the inaugural #PRFest, Festival of Public Relations in Edinburgh, I had no idea I would be appearing on stage.

In fact, when it was suggested I should give a presentation my initial response was, “Uh, yea sure”. Followed by the whiplash of a chair spin to my directors where I said “Should I do it?”.

After all, I’d never been on stage before or been asked to give an ‘expert’ opinion on such a popular subject. However, pretty quickly I realised there was no reason not to.

TWO – Confidence comes from experience.

Practice really does make a huge difference. For years, Holyrood PR has insisted that video has a vital part to play  in the future of communications.

PR video showreel from Scottish public relations agency, holyrood PRFor a flavour of the range and depth of PR video projects I have worked on as part of the team at award winning Scottish public relations agency Holyrood PR, check out our 2015 showreel

As Head of Video Communication I’ve worked on a huge range of projects with businesses as diverse as Musselburgh Racecourse, Bield, Sick Kids Friend Foundation and Commsworld.

Sometimes we take for granted the experience and expertise we have established in our chosen field. What I came to realise is that I know a lot more than I give myself credit for!

THREE – Passion counts.

Video is something I love. I love watching video; I love shooting and editing; I love watching other people making videos.

And what I want more than anything else is for many other businesses to see just how powerful and user-friendly video is when it comes to communicating – whether to staff, clients, customers or anyone else.

At first I was nonplussed about what I could possibly talk about.  Where to begin? And then it hit me – why not start with the everyday piece of camera equipment everyone loves to use – their mobile phone.

By tapping into my passion for shooting and editing video and the way we all love using our mobile phones so much, I quickly realised that I had no shortage of subject matter to talk about.

FOUR – Everybody loves video

Sometimes selling video to clients can feel like an uphill struggle. So I was very pleased to learn just how big and growing  appetite there is for video among PR people.

A guide to 10 types of PR video to help busienssesDo you know someone who still needs convincing about the power of PR video? Send them a link to this short and simple film which demonstrates at least 10 ways your business could promote itself successfully via video

From the sell-out crowd at PR Fest that stayed till late in the afternoon to hear my talk, the lively  Q&A session and the positive  feedback I got from everyone, I learned that everyone wants video, everyone loves the idea video – they just don’t know how to go about arranging and delivering video.

So, it was a pleasure to reassure the audience that it’s not a dark art and that it  doesn’t have to be tricky or expensive. Of course, the whole process is made even smoother and easier when a PR video professional is involved – and I hope to hear from some of those audience members when they need filming or editing expertise.

Isn’t it time you did your business a favour – by trying out PR video for yourself?

As well as speaking at the event, I also produced this promotional video to showcase the #PRFest. It lets the organisers showcase how the day looked, reminding those who weren’t able to attend what they missed out on – and helping driving sign-ups for next year’s event.

Whether you are intrigued in the power of PR video for your business or an agency yourself, try my tips to making mobile video and let us know how you get on.

If you need more help, advice or hands-on experience, Holyrood PR’s video service can train you on the basics of what you need to know. You can contact me or other members of the team on 0131 561 2244, or fill out the simple form below and we’ll get straight back to you.

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Private: Craig Sinclair

Craig is our resident video expert. His videos are now an essential part of Holyrood PR's enviable reputation on telling powerful stories.

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