Emotion is the driving force of storytelling in video. Being emotionally engaged keeps viewers watching and also prompts social actions like sharing, commenting, and liking. Viewers desire and respond to emotional experiences, and recent research shows that this is true for all video on social – including those created by hard news organizations.
While utilizing emotion in videos designed to entertain, inspire, or raise brand awareness on social feels natural, the challenge is more complicated for news video. Many people expect news to be presented objectively. So how do you inject an emotional angle into a hard news video? Here are some concepts to keep in mind that might help you find your way:
Focus on the human element
Every story has a human face – find that face and shine a light on it – preferably on your first shot. Then, if you can zero in on a single person or group of people and look at how the news at hand affects them, you’re sure to captivate your audience’s feelings.
Empathy is a powerful force in creating emotional resonance. By focusing on the people in a story, or how an event is affecting specific people, you can easily pull your audience in.
Guide emotion, don’t force it
You don’t want to tell your viewers what to feel. Not only because that might be antithetical to journalistic values, but also because telling your audience what to feel is not the same as making them feel it.
Through powerful imagery, music, and smart editing, you can drive viewers towards the emotional response you want them to have. That may be inspiration from the story of an Olympic athlete, empathy for refugees suffering half a world away, or joy at seeing members of their local community lifting each other up.
Emotion doesn’t have to mean bias
Just because your news coverage invokes emotion doesn’t mean it has to be inherently biased. But it is a fine line to tread.
Many stories have two sides, especially in our politically charged world. But you can tell these stories with an emotional arc without choosing a side. Present how people on different sides of an issue or event are affected, or explore the common ground that exists between the groups.
It takes editorial prowess, in both writing and creating, to balance two sides respectively while also presenting the human side of an issue. But finding that groove will bring you viewers and success.
Not all news is expected to be unbiased
While we traditionally expect news coverage to be objective, that has started to change. There are increasingly more niche outlets that approach their news coverage from a particular perspective. If that is your approach as a publisher, emotion becomes much simpler to utilize.
But also consider that certain news stories have a natural bias, no matter who might be reporting them. When events occur that affect us all – be they scientific breakthroughs, tragedies, or something else – the emotional bend of coverage is expected. In times like those, embrace the narrative that we are collectively experiencing, regardless of any typical angle to your coverage- it’s what your audience expects.
Carving emotion into news videos is much trickier than with other kinds of video content. Keep these concepts in mind as you work to craft news coverage with greater emotional resonance, and your audience is sure to respond in kind.