When I saw some image promos for WFTV’s Todd Ulrich, it reminded me of an old axiom.
When you want to know how a job is done, talk to the guy who does it.
I have advice for young, upcoming, local TV news writer/producers out there tasked with coming up with ideas for their next promotion.
It’s OK to put your anchor, reporter or meteorologist on camera and just talk to them.
Too often — and I was guilty of this when I was a young writer/producer — young writer/producers tend to want to over-produce their spots.
Why? Because they can, and they’re young, with lots of tools at their fingertips thanks to nonlinear editing, to ratchet up the production.
Just putting a talent on camera and hitting record seems so, well, uncreative.
But sometimes, simple is better.
“It’s all about authenticity,” said Sean Garcia, WFTV’s creative services director when asked about the approach. “We just let Todd tell the story.”
Ulrich has been the consumer reporter at WFTV, the Cox-owned ABC affiliate in Orlando, Fla., for 25 years.
When you have a franchise reporter who’s been on the air that long, chances are viewers know who he is, so use that recognition as an advantage.
“We wanted to know why people call him for help,” said Garcia, “and we knew he could pull it off.”
Garcia says Ulrich typically gets 250 requests a week for help with viewers’ consumer problems, resulting in about 100 on-air stories a year.
Ulrich’s reports typically air in the station’s 5 o’clock newscast.
NOTE: I do have one minor observation about the shooting of Ulrich in these image promos.
In some cases, he looks off-camera as if he’s talking to someone off camera. At other times, he looks directly into the camera.
If you’re interviewing someone, and he’s looking at you,, off camera, as opposed to directly into the camera, it is important to maintain eye contact and really listen to what’s being said.
It helps relax the subject, and when you’re listening intently, you’ll ask better, more insightful questions.
If you the talent looks directly into the camera, sometimes it can come across as scripted,
I definitely didn’t get that feeling watching Ulrich in these promos. He looks natural and authentic when looking into the camera and I would have opted to maintain that perspective in all the spots.
Click here to read a recent story about Ulrich by the Orlando Sentinel.