The KISS formula for COVID-19 videos: Keep it simple and safe

Video has become a handy medium for organizations during this crisis, but would-be videographers would do well to not overreach.


Before COVID-19, a company wanting to produce a customer video would likely call the advertising agency. This would set off a flurry of meetings to advance possible shoot locations, hire a large production crew and audition talent.

Now, that video can be a shot with a smart phone on a stick and edited at home. In the blink of an eye we are now accustomed to watching network programming originating from a home basement and newsmaker interviews conducted via Zoom.

Here are 3 tips to plan your next COVID-19 video. It’s a play on the KISS principle.  Instead of “keep it short and simple,” it’s now “keep it simple and safe.”

Start with safety 

A typical production crew for a professional video shoot can be up to 10-15 people, ranging from camera operators to catering coordinators. Add in the talent and it’s difficult to maintain social distancing with a group this size. While the production values won’t be as high, you can get the job done with a couple of technicians.

Clearly the message and goal of the video starts the creative process—but safety is the overriding decision-maker on everything from script to locations.

Simple works

Saturday Night Live’s recent “At-Home” episode scored their second highest rating of all time. We are getting used to the home movie concept.

Talking on-camera should be static. Walking and talking generally needs more crew members (remember safety).  You can even use a smart phone.  Add a teleprompter app to improve performance and attach a microphone to enhance the audio.

A camera crane with a high panorama zoom of a distribution center is still a great establishing shot. However, these days it’s best to use existing still photos and be creative in post-production.  Even for simple productions, a great editor can turn average into extraordinary.

Be authentic

This is especially important during times of crisis. Eliminate corporate-speak because simple and conversational language works best. Use as many facts as possible in your message to demonstrate transparency. A series of short and simple videos creates a cadence of information directly from the source to keep your stakeholders better informed. This builds lasting good will that will continue long after the crisis is over.

As we slowly begin to adjust to the new normal remember:   Slick is out. Safe is in.

Andrew Gilman is CEO of CommCore Consulting Group, a crisis communications firm based in Washington, D.C. 

Dale Weiss is senior vice president at CommCore Consulting Group,  executive producer of CommCore’s PressureTest™ Crisis Simulation and is creative director of their video division.


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