By Jay Campbell
Vastly expanding upon occasional trade show reports and vehicle reviews once communicated via online video, the five-member Automotive News broadcasting department now routinely puts 11-hour days into two daily newscasts and bunches of sponsored reports—21 this year alone.
Lots of practice, humble beginnings and clever use of resources characterized the launch of a TV crew that started out with fabric from a local shop as a green screen and an old laptop for a teleprompter. The first Automotive News show reached an industry in crisis on the eve of Election Day 2008. Soon enough, the operation was pulling in a better-than-expected 4,000 to 8,000 views per newscast. The team started a morning newscast within two years and now attracts upwards of 11,000 total viewers a day.
Automotive News TV managing editor and news anchor Tom Worobec last month offered video tips for B2B editors during an ASBPE webcast. He advised them to be on the lookout for talent and resources in unlikely places. For example, a popular personality on the AutoNews programs is a veteran print reporter. One young professional went from intern to anchor. Worobec himself previously was a corporate communications manager for the brand’s parent company, and he had broadcasting experience prior to that role.
Automotive News newscasts feature on-location reporting and executive interviews, generally are not much more than four minutes long and typically include a 15-second ad.
“Those just getting started should look for individuals with professional or collegiate broadcast news experience,” said Worobec. “You may want to look at some of the local universities around you who may have broadcast programs. Whether at the pro or college level, look for folks who have the writing skills but also know the gear.”
The four musts for good shooting are the camera, good lighting, a tripod and a lavalier or stick microphone to be attached to the subject’s lapel, Worobec said. Rounding out any legit kit are a high-powered computer with video editing software, a teleprompter (though a tablet works well enough) and an online video platform (Automotive News parent Crain Communications is a BrightCove client).
Worobec suggested a budget of $3,000 to $20,000 to get started, complemented by a dose of resourcefulness. Even smartphones can offer compelling video, he said. Reporters mainly tasked with print output might take 10 minutes out of a scheduled 40-minute interview to contribute video material for B-roll. “We have a growing number who say, ‘Here’s what I took on my iPhone,’ and they’ll feed that to us and it enhances our product so much,” said Worobec. Still, “quality is absolute king,” he added. “I don’t like shaky, poorly lit video or bad audio. We simply won’t use it because our readers are accustomed to very high-end quality when it comes to print and online, and I carry that over to the video end.”
The Automotive News broadcast team has enjoyed some upgrades. They’re outfitting a reporter in Tokyo with video equipment, and in their Detroit headquarters now operate a control room and two broadcasting studios featuring true green screens, among other luxuries. “We still maintain quite a bit of cost discipline,” Worobec said during a phone interview following the webcast. “Our computers and cameras can be three, four years old.”
Find more of Worobec’s pointers, including marketing ideas, handy technical terms and notes on how to write and speak for video, in his presentation slides here.