Barry Hess: Simple and Effective use of Video

Barry Hess website vidI’m really digging the way Seth Cohn is adding the video element to Barry Hess’s Arizona Gubernatorial website to make it more personal and friendly. I actually predicted personalized campaign video would be the norm back in 2004, and it’s really cool to see it starting to make more appearances in high-level races (I’ve been working on getting the Bill Peirce for Ohio Governor campaign to do the same thing, but damn if Cohn isn’t beating me to the punch here).

It’s a novel idea and I look forward to seeing where he goes with it, and what ideas I can blatantly rip off for other campaigns, so I figure I’ll just add my two cents on suggestions for what struck me first and some tips for anyone who’s doing video work:

  • He’s happy and energetic. This is good and he doesn’t seem like he’s too energetic.
  • There’s a bit of an echo. Move the camera closer or hook up a lapel mic.
  • It’s a bit dark. Turn on the bright lights and powder his forehead if shooting at night. You can buy a blue “daylight” bulb for this type of filming if needed.
  • The background is too generic. I know, I usually tell people to do professional headshots on a white background (not sliding door curtains though, errr), but when it comes to video, a darker background is actually better for making you pop out more. Move him into the library with some books behind him. Cliche as hell, but it works.

Ok, I know that’s all kinda negative and shit, but seriously, I do like the video and I think it’s a hell of a novel idea to incorporate it into campaign sites. Libertarians are so often left out of the media loop and they somehow forget that they can easily put their own video up and talk directly to voters. Imagine a video preamble to every campaign issue page… now imagine video responses to your competitors, laying down the smack Daily Show style (I know, a stretch, but if I ever run for office I swear I’m doing it).

Update: The Matthew Dailey over at the LP Blog points to a WaPo article about YouTube levelling the political playing field and says:

Being on YouTube allows a political candidate to reach the largest possible audience, with 80 million videos being watched on the site every day. The site could be especially beneficial to LP candidates who have trouble getting coverage in the mainstream media.

For a party and it’s candidates that are starved for conventional media attention, the obvious strategy is to route around the MSM and take the message directly to the voters. It doesn’t get any more convenient than YouTube.

Stephen VanDyke

I've published HoT along with about 300+ friends since 2002. We're all Americans who are snarky and love our country. I'm a libertarian that registered Republican because I like to win elections. That's pretty much it.

  1. This guy’s a good speaker, and I’m impressed that he found an invite to the podium at the Republican’s convention (?!?). He seemed even better in front of live crowd than he did in the comfort of his own sliding-glass doorway… that video has him kinda stumbling at the end, which is odd since it’s the one he got to have as many takes as needed for.

    You’re onto something though, Stephen… LP candidates are going to have to get more creative with technology and leverage “viral marketing” mechanisms like YouTube. It’s much cheaper than blowing your wad financially on television, and as people spend more time online and less with the TV the cost-effectiveness potential becomes more compelling.

  2. Hehehe, While I wish I could take all of the credit, Barry sent me the video “ready to go”, based on some talks with him prior, and my putting video onto the site in a demo.

    It was shot by him, with help, and yes, it could use some makeup/polish/background/retakes, but that’s it’s beauty: it’s real. If I had it to do again, I’d make some minor changes, but not much. Barry’s authentic and it works for him.

    There are other candidates doing the video thing: Mike Gravel for one, so this isn’t going to be new for long.

  3. I fully expect overt politically-themed videos on youtube, google video, etc, to be illegal by the 2008 campaign. Incumbents must be protected at all costs.

  4. Hey, speaking of the “He’s happy and energetic” praise… why is it that most all Libertarian bloggers take profile photos that look like police mugshots? I love Nicholas Sarwark’s photo, it’s the only one I’ve seen on HoT that doesn’t make me a sad panda… :'(

  5. Barry Hess is an interesting Libertarian. I met him and we “discussed” his “Purist” views and my “reform” views.

    Barry is very well spoken and he is passionate in his beliefs. I have a lot of respect for Barry.

    I am one of the many people who think there is plenty room in the LP for both Barry and myself.

    If I lived in Arizona there is no doubt I would support Barry’s campaign!

    Mike Sylvester

  6. “but if I ever run for office I swear I’m doing it”

    IF!? Stephen, it is your destiny. It had better be in Ohio too. :)

    I love that pic too, you should use that, although I did order my own Freedom: My Anti Gov shirt because I found it by your pic. Haha. I turn 21 in excatly 20 minutes. WHOoooooo, Im drunk :)

  7. Funny, I was checking out this site earlier today and was very pleased with the video! Hess is a very good Libertarian. I like his speaking style quite a bit too.

    Strange that some Republican group invited Hess & Hancock over to talk… I doubt much will come of it.

  8. The Republican group is a hardcore faction within the Arizona Republican Party, not the state party machine. See their website, where they bill themselves as “teh Right Wing of the Republican Party.” I have not confirmed, but I’d imagine that some of these people were the ones urging Barry to seek the Republican nomination.

    While I disagree with some of Barry’s views, he’s a great guy and an excellent speaker and candidate. I’m going to be contacting some family and friends who still live in the Grand Canyon State and drum up what support I can for his campaign.

    Also, Steve Perkins, glad you like the photo. We don’t need you being a sad panda. One of these days I’ll get a photog friend to do a portfolio of the five stock candidate photos, with good lighting and makeup, but the “martini time” photo is a good placeholder.

  9. Video as a campaign tool is the best, and perhaps the most effective, way Libertarians have to reach out to the likely supporters and non-voters as well. But let’s face it; if your video is shit, well that is what you will get back from the viewers.

    If we want to have a positive impact then the production values of the video must be very high. I tell my clients that we work to achieve “Info-tainment” That is a video spot that is Entertaining as well as informative. Notice how I capitalized the E in entertainment, because if the video becomes “unfun” then the viewer will be come an “unviewer” really fast.

    Currently I am working with Wes Wagener for video on his campaign. You can see our first ad on his website We have taped him as a talking head, speaking on the issues but the video quickly lost the E factor that we need to keep the viewer interested.