Video Essentials

News Video Creators Tell the Secrets of Keeping Viewers Engaged

Online video news creators have to turn out videos everyday, so they learn a few things about how to succeed in the medium. Three top editors — representing the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and — gathered in New York City recently for a leadership summit hosted by Here are five tips from that conversation. Whether you’re creating news videos or any other kind of online video, these tips will help you keep your audience tuned in and coming back for more.

1. Keep Surprising Your Audience

“We want to bring people back because they’re not going to know from one show to the next — or from one video to the next — what they might get,” said Shawn Bender, editorial director, video, for the Wall Street Journal. What do viewers want? Something they’ve never seen before. “Never get locked into a routine,” said Bender. Instead, keep the energy up and the topics varied.

2. Be Consistent

While you want to avoid routine, that doesn’t mean you can’t have regular programs or updates. “Knowing that everyday you’re going to have something at a certain time of day or that every week you’re going to have a certain kind of content — people come back for that, too,” said Ann Derry, editorial director, video and television, for the New York times. Let your audience know that if they come back, you’ll have fresh content. You can only achieve that if you stick to a schedule.

3. Deliver Quality

If your viewers wanted grainy low-resolution video with an inaudible soundtrack, they’d go to YouTube. The bar has been raised for online video: viewers expect high-resolution video and perfectly clear sound.

4. Know Your Audience

If you have a feel for your site’s audience, you’ll feel more comfortable taking chances around them. Understand the range of content they’ll enjoy and keep pushing at the boundaries.

5. Add the A-ha Moments

“You can have the show, but if it doesn’t really deliver much in terms of ‘a-has,’ it has no magic moments, then it’s hard to attract an audience over time,” said Dan Farber, the editor-in-chief of CBS. Even your regular content needs to surprise viewers. Think in terms of moments when scripting a video. Add a few moments guaranteed to raise your viewer’s eyebrows.

Scroll down to view the entire video (used courtesy of Beet.TV.)



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