writing for the spoken word…chocolate chip cookie please!

writing for the spoken word

It sometimes takes a different viewpoint to write for the video and television medium. Many times translating our thoughts takes a different viewpoint. I sometimes have to get a coffee and cookie to work on a script.

I often find those I am working with on the project have a hard time seeing the words translate into the video medium. Specifically, each medium we use to communicate whether it be email, tweets, or video…the final written word is different for each medium.

I think and write as if I am writing for television, I write in the spoken word. I write as I imagine saying the words and find myself using the “…” as pauses or places for emphasis. Sometimes I use all lower cases to illustrate a soft tone, even not capitals for the word at the beginning of a paragraph for smoother spoken transitions. Then  ALL CAPS for emphasis of intensity or shouting.

I challenge those I am working with to sit back and read the whole script out loud. Speak it…say it…deliver it using your voice.

Listening to the script instead of saying it takes on a whole new medium. It is hard to write for the spoken word, we explain thing differently using our out loud voices. We pause for emphasis, we say words differently than in written format, we even omit words that are unnecessary.

Writing for the spoken word is like writing for a spoken conversation. You say a phrase and wait for a response, allowing your audience to adjust to your statement. You want the audience to not only hear your words but feel your words.

Writing for the spoken word still embodies the idea of telling stories. If you are writing a 30 second PSA for television, you do not want to share your closing thought in the middle of the script…unless that is the parenthetical design of delivery.

Or for that 30 second PSA or television spot…we do not want to cram 29 seconds of words into a 30 second final product…unless we do not want someone to breathe while listening. People need to breathe when listening, digest your creative thoughts, and store them in a way to remember your message.

I always encourage those who are writing for television or video to read the script out loud while recording yourself. Yes…then play it back and listen to the delivery. How about recording yourself with a video camera…reading the script to see the expressions in the lines of words, hear the pauses…feel the delivery. Many times…you will find the places to re-write and refine because now you see and her the script in the context of the audience.

Now it is time for a bite of that chocolate chip cookie!

Social Media Is Getting Boring…Yawning Again

Yep…I said it. It is getting so boring and overused. How is it overused…well, let me put it this way…it is overused as a marketing/pr strategy that we have forgotten the social core.

Social Media is all around us and has become such a common place that the innovation that pushed us to today’s technology is no longer pushing for something more. Yes, there are new technology spin offs from the current platforms emerging each day…but it is the same stuff on a different day.

I walk into more and more meetings and the idea of social has been lost in the social media. We are using Facebook as a pure marketing outlet, sometimes the only social media solution in the bag of tricks. We are designing cover photos like billboards with branded messages…no social messages.

What is social about a logo and a tagline on a cover photo, nothing. It is just the same ole thing moved from our interstate highways to our information highways and is probably just as equally effective, maybe…yawn. Time for some coffee.

We are putting together spiffier quarterly and annual reports, including metrics from our corporate social outlets. We include engagement numbers, clicks, traffic increase percentages, etc…and why…because we can and it makes us feel good. We have successfully transferred our marketing accountability efforts to tracking social outlets like websites. This is the same thing as trying to take the broadcast news industry and transfer it into a website, just the same thing in a different delivery method.

What is so fun about that? We have bought into the routine, the routine we had before these social technologies began to emerge and excite us. We were excited because it was a new way to engage in new conversations. Now it is just routine because we are trying to track, react, and code engagement so we can justify our resources.

Why can we not just look at the social of the media and just accept it for what it is…it is a place have online conversations. Why can we not just find new ways to have richer conversations whether public or private and not worry so much about accountability? Oh yeah…the bean counters again. Yeah…traditional bean counters. Yawn again.

Where is the new innovative, executive leadership?

We are stagnant…we have become boring…and we are not giving our communities any other reason to engage in conversations other than getting our updates based on a daily metric.

Even the communities, the people truly using these outlets are getting used to the proliferation of marketing messages on these social outlets. We do not fuss as much anymore when we see sponsored messages come across our timelines. We just scroll by them like they did not exist. Why…because we are tired of fussing about it. Maybe we do not see them anymore. Or maybe they are working and we are actually clicking on them.

The social media innovators are stagnant as well…they now have to make money and focus less on the innovation that drove the social adoption. I meet more and more people either dropping their social outlets *or* they accepting the fact that this where they get their news and information. Is that social? Is it social just because it provides news updates that we now depend on?

It is time to take off our marketing hats, our pr hats, our community manager hats, and remind ourselves why we used social outlets in the first place. Because we wanted to connect with new people, find new ideas, engage in new conversations…not just market our widget or share our latest news item.

Time to break away from our new reality. Time to be social again and not marketers and pr professionals.

*Image from ADW.org’s blog: http://bbr.tw/13J20Mb 

Chief Justice Finney – A Story of Black History in South Carolina

Chief Justice Finney - "Proud To Be A SC Lawyer"

I had the pleasure to meet Chief Justice Finney a few months ago while working with the South Carolina Bar Association and Melanie Lux on video project. Ernest A. Finney, Jr. was the first African-American Supreme Court Justice appointed to the South Carolina Supreme Court since the Reconstruction Era.

Mr. Finney is one the attorneys featured in the “Proud to be a South Carolina Lawyer” video series by the South Carolina Bar. The series is designed to promote a true representation of South Carolina lawyers and their commitment to their clients and the community.

From the moment I walked in the door…I felt like I was walking into a history book, a walk back in time as we heard his personal testimony where he earned the right to lead the highest court in South Carolina.

But we knew his story was powerful, but more powerful was the love and respect that he and his wife shared over the years. As they sat side by side during the interview, they shared those special moments in time…time that has been written in the history books of South Carolina. They shared the first time they met and the numerous years they advocated together for “civil rights.”

Mr Finney earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Claflin College in 1952 then enrolled in South Carolina State College’s School of Law, from which he graduated in 1954. In the beginning, he was unable to find work as a lawyer, so he followed in his father’s footsteps and worked as a teacher. In 1960, he moved to Sumter and began a full-time law practice.

In 1961, Mr. Finney represented the Friendship 9, a group of black junior college students arrested and charged when trying to desegregate McCrory’s lunch counter in Rock Hill, South Carolina. In 1963, he served as chairman of the South Carolina Commission on Civil Rights. Mr. Finney was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1972. He was subsequently appointed a member of the House Judiciary Committee, making him the first African-American to serve on that key committee in modern times.

In May 1994, the state’s general assembly elected Mr. Finney to the position of Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, effective December 1994, making him the first African-American Chief Justice of South Carolina since Reconstruction.

Here is his short story that was produced for South Carolina Bar’s “Proud to be a South Carolina Lawyer” video series.

*Reference information for this post came from the SC Bar Association and Wikipedia.

Black History Month – Call Me MISTER Book Released

A few years ago…I had the privilege of working with the Call Me MISTER program to document and tell their story. It was the 10th Anniversary and they wanted to bring 10 years of progress to their supporters during this celebration.

I met Dr. Jones as the Executive Director of Call Me MISTER and as we embarked on a journey to document the progress…I grew to truly see the struggle beyond the classroom.

The goal of the Call Me MISTER program is to educate and empower young black men to become elementary school teachers here in SC. Why? To provide role models for young children…to help elementary children see black men in this leadership role. What a BIG idea…especially for South Carolina.

During this production process…I dug deep into my soul and was challenged to see whether I was truly open to this movement. As a white male, I do not think we can truly feel, see, hear, and comprehend the struggles of the black community. We think we are not “prejudice” but what I learned to realize is prejudice has nothing to do with this movement.

I did not see this until I met Mr. Harvey Gantt. Mr. Gantt was the first black male to be admitted to Clemson University. I worked wit his daughter Sonya Gantt at WCNC-TV in Charlotte.

It was a Saturday during the Summer of 2010. We were about to embark on the production of this project when I was asked to attend a weekend summit. All the “MISTER’s” from around the state were coming to Clemson University’s Tillman Hall to listen to Mr. Harvey Gantt speak.

As I walked into the auditorium in Tillman, I noticed I was the only white individual attending this packed house event. Not wanting to bring attention to my minority status…I found a seat in the back. As I sat and listened to the first black man to attend Clemson…I began to see his viewpoint. As the only white person in the room…his words felt like they were darts shooting across the room for only me to feel. And after his powerful remarks…something happened that brought context to the day.

Dr. Jones stood up and announced our documentary project. He shared the vision to tell this story and that it would be shared in a few months during the 10th Anniversary Summit at BMW in September 2010. Then he asked the team to stand-up to be recognized. As he called out each name…applause followed. Then my name was announced as the person who would help lead this initiative. Since I was sitting in the back…it took a second for Dr. Jones to find me amongst 800 plus in the room.

Then…he spotted me. For the first time, I felt the true meaning of the work *minority*. Dr. Jones told everyone to clap for me…the only white male in the room who has agreed to help produce this story. I think Dr. Jones knew that my perspective was crucial to help truly capture and share this story, especially given my minority status and viewpoint.

Almost three years later…I still do not think I truly grasp the core of the struggle. But I do think I see this movement through an ever shifting lens. Now, they have released their book call “Call Me MISTER.” Dr. Jones gave me a signed copy, one that I will cherish for a lifetime. I was in the meeting when they first talked about writing this book.

I hope you watch the interview above. It was great to catch-up with Dr. Jones…as a reminder of their story, their progress, and their continuing struggle to bring voice to their mission. We need more black males as role models. From the public school system to collegiate and professional coaching…we need more black males in the public as leaders…as role models. To watch the videos we produced that summer, here is a link to read more: www.callmemister.clemson.edu.

*Images from SCETV website and Amazon.com.  

Reminders from those who inspired us! #Passion

So it was the other day I was cleaning out my old office and moving everything to the new location. I was looking through some old boxes, pulling out old memorabilia…and look what I found.

One of my favorite people…one of the few that I truly admired in the broadcast television business gave me this card. While working for WCNC-TV in Charlotte, NC…I had the pleasure to work on a yearly project called Road Show. We would take the news to a different city each day for a whole month…putting our main anchors and brand right in the middle of the public.

The leader of the Road Show is a very talented producer, writer, wordsmith, and cat header. Yes…she crafted the show daily with special stories pre-produced showcasing the area we were visiting. It was lots of fun, we met lots of great people…but most importantly…we really grew together like a family.

I ended up working for Allison in Special Projects after a few years of the Road Show. During my time in Special Projects, I truly grew a tremendous respect for Allison not only as creative but as a person.

I remember I had only been working directly for Allison for a few months, and a great opportunity emerged to transition to the business side of the television industry. I will never forget that night I had to tell her. I shed tears and was worried I had damaged both our personal and professional relationship.

To this day…she has been one of my strongest advocates. Why? I am not sure…but she knew I had a passion for something bigger. She gave me this card shown above during Road Show. I have kept it ever since as a reminder.

“Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things.”– Denis Diderot

I have to agree and thank you to Allison for pushing to chase my passions.