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How to use video to spread your health care messages

A panel in the huge bronze doors of a historic Mayo Clinic building. Mayo has helped open doors for those in social media health care through efforts such as the Health Care Social Media Summit and Social Media Health Network.

Took a 6 a.m. flight out of Cincinnati earlier this week to get to Rochester, Minn., in time for a pre-conference workshop called How to Use Video to Spread Your Health Care Messages to the Public and the Media with Vince Golla , digital media and syndication director at Kaiser Permanente, which serves 9 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. The 3-hour session took place the afternoon before the Health Care Social Media Summit and Social Media Health Network meeting.

It was well worth the loss of sleep. Besides, there was lots of coffee to perk me up!

Here are a few highlights from Golla’s workshop:

* Video equipment, and editing and publishing tools have become so affordable and easy-to-use that it’s a no-brainer for PR people to take advantage of them. At the same time, the threshold for production quality has come down. CNN even laid off a number of videographers because its viewers were supplying news videos acceptable to watchers. On top of that, a Pew study shows that people are getting more news via social media. This presents a tremendous opportunity.

* Keep your online videos concise, usually under three minutes. YouTube metrics will give you a good understanding of how long to make a video — and the topics that hold your audience’s attention.

* Documentary style works well. For example, patients telling their stories unscripted and uncompensated to an interviewer at a 15% angle from the camera. Focus on storytelling. Be sure to have them sign a HIPAA waiver. These videos make for good viewing in waiting rooms and embedding in e-newsletters. One video in a Kaiser Permanente newsletter led to 50-plus viewers asking for colon cancer screening kits.

* Devote appropriate time to preparation, especially scouting a location with an ear on sounds and eye on lighting. Interview your subject off-camera, make her comfortable, then turn on the camera and make it more conversational. Use there rule-of-three when framing — include something visually interesting in the shot along with the person speaking.

* Be strategic. Ask how a planned video fits into your message architecture and ties to your organization’s goals and objectives. Maybe a newsletter article or podcast would work better.

* Supplement embargoed press releases about study results with private links to videos of experts quoted in the announcements. These help draw coverage and end up being used by mainstream media.

* Video blogs can be effective platforms for humanizing your hospital. Great examples are Sharing Mayo Clinic and From Dr. Preston Maring’s Kitchen.

* External mics, tripods and lenses, such as those sold on Photojojo, are a necessity. (Check out The Glif, which allows you to put an iPhone on a tripod.) They make a big difference when using an iPhone, Droid or other smaller camera.

* A do-it-yourself video outfit can be assembled for $2,475, while the cost of a single professionally produced video of three minutes. costs $3,500-$5,000. Good argument for investing in equipment.

* Hire an intern to do video editing using Final Cut Pro 10 — and have the intern train you how to edit. Or pay a professional video editor to teach your team the basics.

* If asked to do a “viral video,” say: “You don’t make viral videos. You make videos that go viral. There is a difference.”

These are just a few of the nuggets from the comprehensive pre-conference workshop as I wind down on the Friday evening after a big week at the Summit. Hope you found them helpful.

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