The Missing Art of the Lower Third

Members of Congress are increasingly posting videos on YouTube and other social media channels, a phenomenon we have highlighted extensively in previous posts.  But many Members are missing valuable opportunities to further enhance their video quality and ensure their primary messages resonate.

As an example, here is a recent video from Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) questioning Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

In a seven minute video, Senator Sanders highlights many causes for this country’s current budgetary deficit.  The Senator offers many poignant points, including ways in which he worked to stem the deficit, but because the video is so long, viewers may miss some of the speech’s key points.  This is where video graphics, particularly a lower third, can help.

Now those unfamiliar with video and advertising may be asking what a lower third is.  Understandable, as I had no clue until leveraging them extensively for advertisements when I was working at Ohio University.

Above is a press conference clip, telecast on MSNBC, involving House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) discussing a meeting with President Barack Obama.  The lower third is the graphic underneath the Majority Leader with the header “developing now”.  You will see lower thirds routinely in advertising and news.

Lower thirds are easy to program and widely effective.  Considering many Congressional offices use Adobe Premiere Pro to create videos, the software offers dozens of premade templates that new media directors can easily edit to fit within the office’s overall design theme.  When an office records a Member’s floor speech, it can include information such as the Member’s website URL, speech highlights, additional facts to reinforce the speech’s content, information about a Member’s e-mail newsletter, and much more.

It can be hard to capture a constituent’s attention for a full five minute floor speech, or eight hours as Senator Sanders demonstrated back in December.  Video graphics are an easy and cost effective mechanism to accentuate messaging and drive viewers to other communications resources.  In addition, stylish video graphics will ensure viewers continue to tune in and enhance the probability they will forward video links to friends.


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