The Trick To Building An
Attention Grabbing Reporter Reel

The Trick To Building
An Attention Grabbing
Reporter Reel

Written by Soul Witness
🕒 November 25, 2019

It’s been said that if you don’t grab a News Director’s attention in the first few seconds of your reel, they’re on to the next one.

To an extent, a saying is repeated…because it’s true. This goal of capturing a News Director’s attention is a good one to shoot for, but building a perfect reporter reel takes practice.

Keep in mind, news is subjective, meaning what one person thinks is “cool” and “creative” may make others say… “that’s a no from me, dawg.”

However, there are some tips I’d like to share coming from a person who has watched their fair share of reels.

Put “the good stuff” first.

This isn’t a new tip, but it amazes me how often people forget to put it into practice. It’s true, while watching reels, if the person didn’t grab my attention right off the bat, I’d be more likely to skip through their reel. Doing that I learned that sometimes, reporters may have a lot of “good stuff”, but it gets lost in the middle and end of their reel.

NDs want to see a few “fancy” stand ups, engaging live shots, and (if it’s an MMJ position) great camera work and creative angles. If you are unsure of what “fancy” stand ups are, just Google Joe Little. He’s become an icon in the reporting world, and a source of inspiration for many reporters and MMJs.

It’s okay to put a good stand up in there twice.

If the stand up is part of a package you’re including in your reel, and you think it needs to be seen…make it be seen.

Again, you can put the stand up in your montage and show it later in the package too!

Have at least a little bit of organization.

You should put your good stuff first, but if you want to organize your reel a little it helps the people who will be watching it as well as showing that you are an organized person. (A great trait!)

After you showcase your best, if you want to make titles like “live shots,” “(insert language) reporting,” or if you have an enterprise segment (fitness, business, etc.) group those specific stand ups or live shots together, and make note of your enterprise segment.

Remember, it’s okay for the “good stuff” to be shown twice.

Keep timing and length in mind.

A lot of NDs who are…let’s just say a little more old school… are kind of known for following a more strict time limit when it comes to reels.

For example, “the stand ups and live shots should total no more than 20 seconds,” and so on. Your reel should move pretty quickly, but it’s also your shot to show your best work.

If your stand ups and live shots total 30-45 seconds, and they are very good, very creative, and very attention grabbing, then that’s okay. If you want to put three packages at the end of your reel (with a title designating “packages”) then do it.

The idea is to give whoever is watching your reel enough to make a decision then and there. If they don’t have enough to go off of and think you’re okay, but you’re still just not quite sure, you’re more likely to be put in the “come back later” pile, which we all know is kept and left on the back-burner.

Something else you don’t want to overlook…your own voice.

Wait, a reel is all visual right? Nope. I know a lot of NDs who don’t even start watching reels until they’ve hit play, then closed their eyes. They listen to the reporter first.

The harsh reality is, if a reporter has an “annoying” voice, that could be their downfall and what puts them in the “not right now” pile. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but, for on-air folks, it’s something we have to deal with.

I have personally had to work on my own voice. Like I’ve mentioned in previous articles, I have a pretty strong accent sometimes so that’s something I had to become aware of and work to correct.

The bottom line is, don’t get discouraged. If you submit your reel, and aren’t getting any hits, that’s the time to reach out to others in the business and get their input. You may just need to make a few changes, but those changes could put you at the top of the call back list.

Keep working and keep growing!

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