Wideos and next gen storytelling

October 14, 2015
bernie sanders video still

Word-driven videos promise to transform public relations with the same effectiveness of the 140-character Tweet. You might not know what wideos are, but you have certainly seen them, and probably sat through dozens on social feeds.

Wideos are short, fact-driven videos that use oversized captions to move a story forward with little regard for audio. In fact, in the world of wideos, audio plays a limited role, usually stock music. Instead, wideos relay meaning by playfully presenting anywhere from three to 25 words superimposed over video scenes, animation, and even still images.

NowThis, formerly NowThis News, produces nothing but wideos for major social outlets. But, Business Insider is master of the art form, using it to bring to life a range of political, business and technology stories, all simply produced and elegantly executed. Take for instance, its recent wideo on Bernie Sanders. In and of itself, there’s nothing visually interesting in watching a politician recite a stump speech for the 100th time. But in only 68 seconds, this wideo conveys the entire Sanders’ campaign story in only 150 words superimposed over 14 video scenes each of about five seconds. That’s a winning formula at a time when the average human attention span is eight seconds, one second shorter than a goldfish.

Even more accommodating, wideos provide the privacy needed to consume information in the silence of a workplace or the chaos of life. As a communications tool, they overcome that sinking feeling we all experience when deciding whether to invest the time to sit through a traditional video. With wideos, there is no time to decide. The oversized captions compel you to read before you can choose to ignore it. Something psychological is in play here, the short-circuiting of conscious decision making by moving your brain straight to language processing.

No doubt, the effectiveness of wideos rests on their simplicity. And they’re just now coming into vogue as a way to amplify a story, gain attention and inadvertently plant an idea or opinion in the public consciousness. Inasmuch as, it’s a masterful new tool for contemporary public relations.

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