When Your Crisis is Because of a Microphone Goof-up

durst movie gerard braudBy Gerard Braud

Robert Durst went to the bathroom with a wireless microphone on. Now he’s facing murder charges. It is an interesting crisis case study.

Yes, he’s faced legal troubles associated with three suspicious murders associated with him. But those were in his past until he agreed to be interviewed for an HBO documentary about… well, the allegations that he murdered three people. During a break during the filming, he wore a wireless microphone into the restroom. The camera, meanwhile, was still rolling.

Since 1994, in every media training class I’ve taught, each participant has been told, “Assume the camera is always rolling and that the microphone is always recording.”

robert durstDurst, while in the restroom, said to himself, while still wearing the film crew’s wireless microphone, “What the hell did I do? I killed them all of course.”

Crews transcribing the videotape found this audio gem and alerted the authorities. It is also a brilliant publicity stunt for HBO to bring this to light as they aired their five-part series on Durst.

Would you ever think that a microphone goof-up could create a crisis that could take over the life of a spokesperson? Durst has been interviewed before. He should have known better.

For all of you who must do interviews with the media, the lesson is to assume the microphone is on and that the camera is rolling and recording at all times. Presidents have been burned by this and news anchors have been burned as well.

Fox News Reporter John Roberts in the scrum of reporters covering the Robert Durst hearing in New Orleans.

Fox News Reporter John Roberts in the scrum of reporters covering the Robert Durst hearing in New Orleans.

While standing outside of Orleans Parish Criminal Court today I was reminded of anchor’s being burned when I saw Fox News reporter John Roberts. His wife Kyra Philips was burned on CNN when she wore her microphone into the bathroom and said some personal things, while President Bush was giving a speech on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The audience heard everything she said.

Rule 1: Only put the microphone on just before the interview starts.

Rule 2: If you whisper anything to anyone while wearing the microphone you can assume the audio technician and the videographer will hear you, among others.

Rule 3: If you have to go to the bathroom, take the microphone off.

Rule 4: As soon as the interview is over, take the microphone off.

Social Media for Crisis Communications: Combining Technology & Social Media for Crisis Communication

By Gerard Braud

With no electricity for 5 days Social Media Gerard Braudand 6 feet of water from Hurricane Isaac surrounding my house on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans, I became the go-to correspondent for CNN & The Weather Channel. Using only my iPhone, Skype and 3G, I was able to send reports first to YouTube and CNN’s iReport, then use social media, text messaging and e-mails to get noticed by the networks, which eventually led to an incredible number of live reports.

Hurricane Isaac came ashore on August 28, 2012. The Weather Channel and CNN had dispatched their correspondent to the banks of the Mississippi River in downtown New Orleans, tethered to $65,000 HD cameras and a half-million dollar satellite trucks. Meanwhile, the anchors back in the studio were conducting a series of phone interviews with Emergency Managers and Public Information Officers (PIOs) in the area.

So why is it, with the wealth of official knowledge available, the networks suddenly cut away during storm coverage to interview a seemingly random resident 30 miles away, standing in rising flood waters at his home along Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville, Louisiana?

The answer? Because I’m the resident, I’m in rising floodwaters, and I have an iPhone with Skype. In short, they picked me because I can offer them great visuals, first hand information, and the technology to broadcast to the world from my front porch.

The network’s reporters have much better equipment and the PIOs have official information on the phone, but the resident has added the much needed sex appeal this story has been missing; the resident offers better television coverage than any of the network’s other options.

In any crisis you face, you could easily be upstaged by an eyewitness unless you can be better than they are. That’s why I’ve been teaching workshops on this system to many of my clients and at conferences for many associations.

Gerard Braud Media Training and Crisis Communication with IPad IPhoneIn the meantime, view a quick video lesson on how to effectively communicate in a crisis using your iPhone, iPad or other smartphone and smart tablet technology.

Times are changing and both spokespeople and media trainers need to take action now to prepare for the interview of the future. I suspect we are quickly approaching the day when the media will stop sending news crews out to interview you in person. Instead, they will expect you to do interviews on the spur of the moment, especially from the scenes of unfolding, highly visual crises.

This means you should take these 3 steps:

1) Get the right technology.

2) Get training on how to use the new technology.

3) Schedule a customized Media Training class to help you better answer questions from the news anchors during your interview while you are simultaneously (and flawlessly) operating the technology.

Taking one step without the others is dangerous. You must do all three because operating and holding the technology while being a spokesperson is a daunting, multitasking event that goes beyond anything you have done before. There is no camera crew. You are the camera crew. There is no producer. You are the producer. This isn’t Skype from your stationary desktop computer. This is Skype while you walk, talk and hold your i-Pad, i-Phone (or similar smart device). This isn’t FaceTime with your mother in which she doesn’t care how you are framed on camera. This is network news in which we clearly need to see you and see what is in the background.

What spokespeople and public relations professionals will soon discover is that:

a) The media will begin expecting you to be ready to do an i-Interview

b) If you are not prepared, they will skip over your official information and go get it from an eye witness with technology who is on the scene.

Furthermore, your readiness gives you an upper hand when you can show and tell the media something they cannot get from a lesser source.

Here’s what you need to know to get started:

Technology

iPhones, iPads and laptops, with a built in video camera, top the list of the technology you need. Many smart device will do, provided you can see yourself on camera. This feature is missing from early models of smart phones.

Using these tools for a live interview means you need to be connected to the Internet and you need the free Skype application available at skype.com. Depending upon where you are and whether you have electricity, you can use Skype via Wi-Fi or your G3/G4 phone signal.

Many of you are Skype veterans, but if you’ve never used it, Skype works essentially like a telephone call from your computer or smart device, except it allows your voice call to become a video call through the device’s built in camera. A network producer will call you via your Skype address, you answer, switch on the video feature and you are ready for your live broadcast.

Wi-Fi, Skype and iPads can be temperamental. Occasionally the signal will freeze while you are live on the air.

Good audio is also important. When the wind started howling and drowning out the voices of the anchors, I was forced to switch to my laptop, with a built in web cam and USB Skype headphones with an attached microphone. I could hear them better and they could hear me better.

Periodically between the live interviews, I used my iPhone and iPad to take video of the flooding. I then used the Internet to upload the raw footage, making me a triple threat: I had great video; I had a great location; and I had the technology and information to communicate effectively at a critical time.

Technology Training

There are two parts to the technology training.

Part one is learning which keys to push and what applications to use.

Part two is having the talent to manage the technology, while holding the technology and conducting an intelligent interview with the news anchors. This can be tricky.

You have no margin for error when you are both managing the technology and the interview on live television. For that reason you need to practice using the equipment, while holding it yourself, while talking.

The technology training needs to also include how to shoot additional video at the scenes of your event. That means learning how to hold your camera phone or iPad perfectly still, as well as knowing when to “pan” or turn the camera to enhance the video that you provide to the network. These days, the media will use even well composed still photos from a smart phone. While pictures and videos from the untrained eyewitness are often of poor quality, you have the ability to offer more compelling images that better tell the story.

Media Training

Annual Media Training should be standard operating procedure for every spokesperson. Talking to the media is a skill much like playing sports; you must practice on a regular basis and increase the intensity each time in order to master it.

When you combine it with technology training, you will learn how to hold the iPad, iPhone or laptop at the proper distance so your arms don’t show. Next, you need to learn how to
“frame the shot” so the television network sees both you and what is going on behind you. Then, you need to learn where to look, since the web cam on these devices usually tends to be off to one side or the top or bottom. Looking good goes hand in hand with looking intelligent and sounding intelligent. Likewise, saying what is most important upfront is critical, because your live shot will likely last only 90 seconds.

In the world of crisis communications, expect live interviews on the scene via Skype to become the norm. Soon you will see television stations interviewing police officers from crime scenes and first responders being interviewed from the scene of disasters.

But this technology shouldn’t stop with just the media. It also lets you post videos and interviews to YouTube, Facebook and your own website, so your public, your employees, and the media all have access to the best, up-to-date information.

Certainly, during a crisis, powerful communications before the crisis and rapid communications during the crisis has the ability to move people out of harm’s way. But that life saving critical communications depends upon you learning to do your part.

Is the Media Ready

The media are actually slow in evolving toward i-Interviews. Likewise, many corporate spokespeople are also still fighting to get their IT departments to authorize i-Pads and similar smart technology.

As media revenues continue to fall and as layoffs continue among reporters and photographers, i-Interviews will be the media’s low cost alternative. The question is, will you be ready for the interview of the future?

Add to your to-do list the need to acquire the technology and get the training. Please call me if you would like me to be your in-house trainer or to present a training program for an upcoming conference.

Tutorial #20: Crap is King

Tutorial #20 By Gerard Braud, iReporter Evangelist

(Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 reporters. This is part of a series of articles that share how to be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.)

Click image to watch video

Click image to watch video

In his song Dirty Laundry, singer Don Henley says, “crap is king,” referring to the fact that television news often gives more attention to silly things, rather than the serious. Likewise, the audience also likes those silly things, like the water skiing squirrel story on the news. You may have seen that video clip in the movie Anchorman.

While I’m encouraging public relations professionals, spokespeople and Public Information Officers (PIOs) to share their stories of breaking news, I want to also encourage you to look for side stories about the fascinating side of your event.

Watch today’s tutorial as it features an iReport I filed called Rare Frigate Birds Tropical Storm Lee.

During Tropical Storm Lee in 2011, I filed numerous serious reports, which each received several hundred views. But the side story about the Rare Frigate Birds received more than 99,000 views in about 12 hours. I find that amazing.

In crisis communications we focus on the serious, but often there are stories of human victories that are sweet and need to be told to the media and the media’s audience. Keep your eyes and ears open for these stories.

This link will take you to my tutorials on the CNN iReporter website. I hope you take the time to view, study, and share all 23 videos and articles.

This link will take you to the index for all of the articles and videos.

If you, like many others, think this information would be valuable as a workshop at a conference or corporate meeting, please call me at 985-624-9976. You can also download a PDF that outlines the program, Social Media iReports.pdf, so you can share it with your meeting planner or training manager.

 

Tutorial #19: How to Shoot and Why to Send B-Roll to CNN

Tutorial #19 By Gerard Braud, iReporter Evangelist

(Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 reporters. This is part of a series of articles that share how to be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.)

Click image to watch video

Click image to watch video

When filing an iReport with CNN, you can either place yourself on camera as a narrator of events, or send video of an event that is still happening. That extra video is known in the television business as B-Roll. When I file iReports, I send both.

Ultimately, my goal is for CNN producers to call me to ask me to be interviewed live on CNN or HLN during one of their news programs. During the interview, they will begin with me on camera talking to the anchors, then they will cut away and show the video that I’ve sent.

Watch today’s tutorial to better understand how this works.

When you are shooting B-Roll, also called “cover video,” you want to do several things that are important. First, don’t talk. Allow the video to capture the natural sounds of what is going on. After you’ve done that, add a brief narration. This will tell the video editors back at CNN what they are seeing. This is how you provide context and accuracy for your B-Roll.

Secondly, when shooting B-Roll, don’t provide an excessive amount of movement. Start by showing something important and remain motionless for at least ten seconds. With the camera or smart device still recording, pan or turn the camera slowly for about five seconds, then stop and hold the scene for another 10 seconds. This gives the video editors several options. As you look at my tutorial video, you’ll see that sometimes I also walk while taking the B-Roll.

This link will take you to my tutorials on the CNN iReporter website. I hope you take the time to view, study, and share all 23 videos and articles.

This link will take you to the index for all of the articles and videos.

If you, like many others, think this information would be valuable as a workshop at a conference or corporate meeting, please call me at 985-624-9976. You can also download a PDF that outlines the program,Social Media iReports.pdf,  so you can share it with your meeting planner or training manager.

Tutorial #18: How You Can Create Great Videos Holding Your iPad or iPhone at Arm’s Length

Tutorial #18 by Gerard Braud, iReporter Evangelist

(Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 reporters. This is part of a series of articles that share how to be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.)

Click image to watch video

Click image to watch video

What amazes me about iPhones, iPads and other smart devices, is that I’m able to shoot high quality video and perform all of the tasks on my own, that would otherwise require a news crew with a videographer, producer, reporter, engineer, and a broadcast camera tethered to a satellite truck.

And best of all, I can do it all while simply holding my smart device at arm’s length. At that distance, if framed correctly, no one can see my arm and no one knows that I’m doing this all by myself.

This also gives me the freedom to move, which I couldn’t do if the device was stationary on a tripod. In some situations, a colleague may want to act as your photographer, but often the video is shaky. I find it is much smoother when I hold it myself. It gives me control of movement, lighting and sound

Watch today’s tutorial, then practice this skill yourself.

This link will take you to my tutorials on the CNN iReporter website. I hope you take the time to view, study, and share all 23 videos and articles.

This link will take you to the index for all of the articles and videos.

If you, like many others, think this information would be valuable as a workshop at a conference or corporate meeting, please call me at 985-624-9976. You can also download a PDF that outlines the program,Social Media iReports.pdf, so you can share it with your meeting planner or training manager.

Tutorial #17: Using SKYPE.com for Live Reports on CNN & HLN

Tutorial #17 by Gerard Braud, iReporter Evangelist

(Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 reporters. This is part of a series of articles that share how to be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.)

Click image to watch video

Click image to watch video

My goal in these tutorials is to first encourage public relations professionals, corporate spokespeople and Public Information Officers (PIOs) to file CNN iReports as part of your crisis communications strategy and media relations plan. My second goal is for CNN to then reach out to you and extend an invitation for you to be interviewed live, on the air, during one of the CNN or HLN news programs.

These days, they will likely ask you to be interviewed via Skype.

If you are unfamiliar with Skype, visit www.skype.com and download the free application for you computer, smart phone and smart tablet.

The app allows you to make regular phone calls to regular telephone numbers, or it allows you to make a call from computer to computer with voice only, or you can set up a video chat from computer to computer.

CNN and the other news outlets want you to know how to set up the video chat.

Start by downloading the app. Next, set up your profile. Much like most social media sites, you can add your contact information and a photo.

CNN producers will then either call you or ask you to call them at an assigned time, during the news program. When it is time to go live, your Skype call is what the audience at home will see.

Take a look at this specific video tutorial to learn more.

The quality of the image on Skype varies, based on the strength of your internet signal. Sometimes the image may freeze while you are live on the air. Sometimes the call will get dropped completely.

The networks know they are taking a risk when they do a Skype call, but if your location and event is news worthy and they have no news crew of their own nearby, they are willing to take the risk.

In one of my previous tutorials I mentioned that a set of ear buds or a USB headset can be useful during your live report. If you use these, you will need to find the audio button on the Skype software and select input and output for the headsets, rather than using the computer or smart device’s external speakers and microphone.

The secret to getting it right is to practice on a clear sunny day, rather than attempting to learn the hard way under the time constraints of a crisis and significant news event. Set up your account, study the account until you know all of the buttons you need to push, then establish a call between you and a colleague so you can practice.

During your practice, you’ll want to incorporate many of the other lessons you’ve learned through these tutorials, including managing audio, lighting and movement, as well as what to say.

This link will take you to my tutorials on the CNN iReporter website. I hope you take the time to view, study, and share all 23 videos and articles.

This link will take you to the index for all of the articles and videos.

If you, like many others, think this information would be valuable as a workshop at a conference or corporate meeting, please call me at 985-624-9976. You can also download a PDF that outlines the program,Social Media iReports.pdf so you can share it with your meeting planner or training manager.

 

 

Tutorial #16: The Secrets to Adding Movement to Your Web Videos

Tutorial #16 By Gerard Braud, iReporter Evangelist

(Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 iReporters. This is part of a series of articles about how you can be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.)

Click image to watch video

Click image to watch video

Think about your own web video viewing habits. If a video is entertaining you watch it. If a video is boring, you click to something else.

In some CNN iReports, the entire report is filled with just video of a breaking news story. Other times, a person is on camera talking, which is generally what I do in most of my CNN iReports. I’m usually on location, recreating the same type of Live Shot that I did when I was a television reporter.

If you are in public relations or if you are a spokesperson or Public Information Officer (PIO), and you decide to file a CNN iReport or other web video, you can increase the watchability and entertainment value by adding some simple movement.

Sometimes that movement can be as simple as turning the camera on your smart device to the left or right. Sometimes, you can walk and talk as you go. In some of my reports I do both, and even stop to bend down and pick up items I may be referencing in my verbal narration.

Watch today’s video tutorial to learn more.

As you add movement, it needs to have purpose. Show us something interesting as you move. Let the audience see things from your point of view  — television producers call this POV, i.e. point of view.

As you move, be aware of what is behind you. You don’t want to accidentally show something that would be embarrassing.

To effectively master this skill, you need to practice in advance. So take a few minutes to first watch my video tutorial on this topic, then use your own smart phone or tablet to record a video in which you move left or right or walk. Practice it on a clear sunny day, so you’ll be prepared on the day you need it.

This link will take you to all of my tutorials on the CNN iReporter website. I hope you take the time to view, study, and share all 23 videos and articles.

This link will take you to the index for all of the articles and videos.

If you, like many others, think this information would be valuable as a workshop at a conference or corporate meeting, please call me at 985-624-9976. You can also download a PDF that outlines the program, Social Media iReports.pdf, so you can share it with your meeting planner or training manager.

 

 

 

 

 

Tutorial #15 Determining When to Use Ear Buds and Headphones for Interviews on Your iPad or iPhone

Tutorial # 15 By Gerard Braud, iReporter Evangelist

(Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 reporters. This is part of a series of articles that share how to be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.)

Click image to watch video

Click image to watch video

One of my goals in this series of articles and video tutorials is to help you, first file an online news report about your crisis, which then would lead to a live interview. This is geared toward news events where you work that could get national news coverage, and this is geared toward spokespeople, public relations people and Public Information Officers (PIOs) with government agencies.

If CNN sees your iReport and they like the content, a CNN producer will visit your profile page on CNN.com. They will collect your phone number and e-mail address and contact you, asking you to be a live guest on one of their programs.

Once a SKYPE connection has been established, you must be able to hear the producer talking to you and you must be able to hear the news anchors talking to you. If you are in a quiet location, you can turn up the volume on your smart phone or tablet and likely hear them just fine. But if there is a lot of background noise or blowing wind, you may find it necessary to use ear buds to hear the producers and news anchors.

Some ear buds have a built in microphone, which is optimal. Chances are, if it is too noisy for you to hear them, it may also be too noisy for them to hear you.

One option I select in some of my live reports is to use a USB SKYPE headset with my laptop. These headsets plug into my computer’s USB port. The headsets have earmuffs, that block out external noise so I can hear the news producers and news anchors. It also has a microphone on a flexible arm that gets very close to my mouth. This microphone makes it much easier for them to hear me, without them hearing the background noise.

Watch today’s video tutorial to learn more.

The ear buds come free with most smart devices. The USB headphones can be purchased at any electronics retailer.

As with all of the skills shared in these tutorials, you’ll want to practice on a clear sunny day by having a SKYPE call with a colleague. Don’t wait until the day of your crisis to try to sort out the technical aspects of this. The networks give you only one change to get it right. If you blow it, you are blacklisted and they will call someone who knows what they are doing.

This link will take you to my tutorials on the CNN iReporter website. I hope you take the time to view, study, and share all 23 videos and articles.

This link will take you to the index for all of the articles and videos.

If you, like many others, think this information would be valuable as a workshop at a conference or corporate meeting, please call me at 985-624-9976. You can also download a PDF that outlines the program, Social Media iReports.pdf, so you can share it with your meeting planner or training manager.

Tutorial #13 The Secrets to Good Audio for Your Web Videos

Tutorial #13 By Gerard Braud, iReporter Evangelist

(Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 reporters. This is part of a series of articles that share how to be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.)

Tutorial 13 Still Gerard BraudHave you ever watched a video you’ve shot, only to be surprised that you can hear other people talking in the background, or that the roar of the wind drowns out what you were saying or wanted to hear?

When shooting a video for a CNN iReport, for YouTube, or for any other use, you must be a multi-tasking expert. As you talk while recording the video, you must be listening as well.

Are dogs barking in the background? Are church bells ringing? Is someone nearby talking loudly on a cell phone? And the big one, is the wind blowing so hard that it drowns out your voice narration?

View today’s video tutorial to see and hear examples of all of the above.

As you’ll see in the tutorial, you have several options, including your ability to turn your back to the wind or face the wind, if wind is your problem. The correct answer depends upon where the microphone is located on your device. Another option is to use a small microphone that plugs into the headphone jack of your smart phone or tablet.

This link will take you to my tutorials on the CNN iReporter website. I hope you take the time to view, study, and share all 23 videos and articles.

This link will take you to the index for all of the articles and videos.

If you, like many others, think this information would be valuable as a workshop at a conference or corporate meeting, please call me at 985-624-9976. You can also download a PDF that outlines the program,Social Media iReports.pdf so you can share it with your meeting planner or training manager.

 

 

Tutorial #12: Good Lighting and Bad Lighting When Producing Videos on Your iPad of iPhone

Tutorial # 12 By Gerard Braud, iReporter Evangelist

(Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 reporters. This is part of a series of articles that share how to be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.)

Tutorial 12 Still Gerard BraudLighting is an important element of good videos for the web, YouTube and CNN iReports. As you follow these tutorials, designed for corporate spokespeople, public relations professionals, and Public Information Officers (PIOs), please be aware that while lighting is important, it is just one of many important elements in your crisis communication videos.

Professional photographers know how to adjust the iris on the lens of their expensive cameras. But when you take a video with your smart phone or tablet, you become a slave to the automatic iris on the device’s built in camera.

The only control you have is based on what you are shooting.

If you are appearing in your video, as I do in many of my CNN iReports, your goal is to have good flesh tones. The brighter the objects behind you, the darker your flesh tones will be. The darker the objects behind you, the brighter and more natural your flesh tones will be.

If you like to move while shooting your videos, you have to constantly be aware of what happens to the iris on the device as you move. While you are looking at the camera lens for your report, you must be looking out of the corner of your eye to have a sense for what the image looks like on your screen.

Persons with dark skin have an even harder time managing their skin tones on video.

View the tutorial video to see exactly what I’m talking about.

After you view the video, head outside with your smart phone or tablet and practice shooting a few videos of your own. You have to practice in advance, in order to effectively produce a video under pressure during a crisis or news worthy event.

This link will take you to my tutorials on the CNN iReports website. I hope you take the time to view, study, and share all 23 videos and articles.

This link will take you to the index for all of the articles and videos.

If you, like many others, think this information would be valuable as a workshop at a conference or corporate meeting, please call me at 985-624-9976. You can also download a PDF that outlines the program, Social Media iReports.pdf, so you can share it with your meeting planner or training manager.