Video News Release Format
We write VNR's in two different formats -- as Script Treatments and as Working Scripts.
How does it work? You're watching a news story about a new candy bar being produced in Chicago by a (fictional) candy company called Dandy. The news anchor begins by giving the 5 W's -- she says something like, "If you think Chicago seems even sweeter than usual this week, you're right ..." and she goes on to give the details of the story... As she speaks, "voice over," you see a shot of the chocolate being poured, with factory workers in their candy-striped work jackets with the "Dandy" logo on it... Then you see a shot of nougat being blended in... Then there's a shot showing the automated wrapping machine stamping the distinctive "Dandy Candy" striped packaging around each bar... While the announcer talks about how the new Dandy product will create new jobs for Chicago workers, you see a shot of the Dandy factory down on South Halsted, with the Dandy logo out front, and the American flag flying proudly... The news item may end with the news anchors biting into the new Dandy chocolate bar and ad libbing their comments.
More than likely, most of that footage came from Dandy -- or from their PR firm. It arrived at the TV station in the form of a Video News Release (VNR), produced by a firm that does the video work -- but it was written by you, the PR writer.
At the station they watched your VNR and, it seems, they liked the story. And so they decided to do it for the evening news. Of course, they won't use your package, with your announcer, type fonts, etc. They will want to do an independent report -- but they will use all the footage you sent.
You sent them a lot of B-roll as well as the package. The B-roll had no announcer's voice-over (they want to use their own announcer, of course) and it had no type on the screen (they want to use their own font styles), but it did include additional footage -- the same scenes shot from different angles, for example -- which the station will be able to use to create their own distinctive report.
The whole idea is that you're making it easy for the TV station to do a thorough, visually-interesting report without having to invest their own resources -- a camera crew to come visit the candy factory -- to illustrate it.
How did you put this together?
First you wrote a Script Treatment, which is a more or less intuitive description of what you envision seeing and hearing. This script treatment was useful in discussing your idea with your colleagues as you developed the VNR as part of your PR campaign.
Then you wrote a Working Script to translate that Script Treatment into a form more easily useable by your production company. The Working Script is virtually identical in content, but it is formatted differently into two columns, as you'll see on the next page.
Here is what a Script Treatment might look like. Actually, you've been using a script treatment approach all your life -- from the time as a small child you tried to describe what you saw and heard when you went to the movies. That's what I mean by "intuitive" in style -- it's just a straightforward description:
Opens with anchor on camera:
IF YOU THINK CHICAGO SEEMS EVEN SWEETER THAN USUAL THIS SPRING, YOU'RE RIGHT. THAT'S BECAUSE CHICAGO'S OWN DANDY CANDY HAS OPENED A NEW PRODUCTION LINE TO PRODUCE THE DANDY CHEWY CHOCOLATE BAR.
Cut to Exterior: Dandy Candy headquarters entrance
(VO) DANDY CANDY HAS BEEN A CHICAGO FIXTURE FOR ALMOST SIXTY YEARS...
Montage: Chocolate being poured, racks of bars stamped with Dandy logo, sprinkles sprayed onto drying bars, other shots ad lib:
MAKING THE POPULAR DANDY GRAMS AND DANDY CRUNCHY BARS FOR TWO GENERATIONS OF CANDY LOVERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND AROUND THE WORLD.
Close-up on new "Chewy Chocolate" candy bar
NOW THERE'S A NEW KID ON THE BLOCK WITH A NEW TASTE AND FEEL BUT THE SAME FAMILIAR LOOK -- CHEWY CHOCOLATE...
Shots of new machinery, with workers pouring chocolate.
OUR TASTE FOR CANDY HASN'T CHANGED, BUT CANDY TECHNOLOGY HAS, AND THE NEW ASSEMBLY LINE IS STATE-OF-THE-ART.
On camera: CG: Barney Golub, Candy Technician
"IT'S FUNNY BUT THE SWEET TOOTH STAYS REMARKABLY CONSISTENT OVER TIME. IF WE MAKE EVEN SLIGHT ADJUSTMENTS IN OUR DANDY GRAMS, WE HEAR ABOUT IT -- YOU SHOULD READ SOME OF THE LETTERS! SO IT'S A PRETTY BIG DEAL, COMING UP WITH A TOTALLY NEW CANDY BAR."
Shots of candy laboratory with technicians at work, examining test tubes, etc.
TO DEVELOP THE NEW DANDY CHEWY CHOCOLATE BAR, CANDY SCIENTISTS HAD TO GO BACK TO BASICS...
Montage of factory process, with a candy taster showing candy's chewiness... Barney Golub (VO):
"WE ACTUALLY HAD TO ENGAGE THE MOLECULAR STRUCTURE OF CHOCOLATE AND REDESIGN THE MOLECULE TO MAKE CHOCOLATE THAT'S NOT ONLY TASTY BUT CHEWY. WE'VE PRODUCED A CHEWY CHOCOLATE THAT'S RICHER AND ALSO A LOT LONGER-LASTING."
Cut to exterior, new factory loft building
THE NEW DANDY CANDY ASSEMBLY LINE WAS INSTALLED IN A RENOVATED LOFT BUILDING, NEXT TO THE COMPANY'S FAMILIAR FACTORY SITE, AT 4500 SOUTH HALSTED STREET.
Shots of assembly line focusing on men and women at work
WHILE PRODUCTION CONTINUES FULL-STEAM ON THE DANDY GRAMS AND CRUNCHY BARS, THE NEW LINE HAS ADDED ANOTHER 35 EMPLOYEES TO CHICAGO'S SKILLED WORKFORCE -- AND HAS BROUGHT A NEW GENERATION OF PROFESSIONALS INTO THE WORKPLACE.
On camera: Marshall Witt, Candymaker
"I GREW UP ON DANDY CANDY. IT WAS ALWAYS A PART OF MY LIFE. MY GRANDMOTHER WORKED IN THE FIRST DANDY PLANT BACK DURING WORLD WAR II...
Cut to still shot: WWII era Witt family photo... Witt (VO)
AND MY DAD RETIRED FROM DANDY AS A SUPERVISOR ONLY LAST YEAR. AND NOW I JUST STARTED IN THE NEW PLANT. SO I'M THE THIRD GENERATION OF MY FAMILY TO -- WHAT I CALL IT -- BRING A LITTLE SWEETNESS INTO THE WORLD!"
Pull back from close-up of candy bars in rack, side by side: Dandy Grams, Dandy Crunchy Bars, and Dandy Chewy Chocolate Bars
THE NEW DANDY CANDY CHEWY CHOCOLATE BARS ARE CURRENTLY AVAILABLE IN WHAT THE COMPANY CALLS A LIMITED EDITION, AND ARE BEING SOLD EXCLUSIVELY AT THE DANDY CANDY DOWNTOWN LOCATION ON MICHIGAN AVENUE....
Cut to Exterior, Dandy Candy on Michigan Avenue.
BY THE SUMMER, WHEN THE NEW PLANT IS IN FULL PRODUCTION, DANDY CANDY CHEWY CHOCOLATE WILL TAKE ITS PLACE IN STORES AND VENDING MACHINES ACROSS THE COUNTRY.
Anchor on camera inset: Dandy logo
DANDY CANDY EXECUTIVES SAY THE NEW CHEWY CHOCOLATE FORMULA WILL BE LICENSED TO OTHER MANUFACTURERS OF FINE CANDY AND WILL BE AVAILABLE IN SINGLE-BITE AND CANDY BOX OFFERINGS.