The purpose of the Cape Town-based Regency Global company and its SA INC
video series is to combat the negative news narrative in South Africa. The video
series uses a documentary style to tell the stories of South African corporations that
are doing social good and the eight episodes from their first season have recently
finished airing on local television channels. As an intern at Regency, I have spent the
past two months assisting them with shoots, editing videos and developing social
media promotion for their second season of SA INC.
As a former print journalist and recent graduate of USC Annenberg, I am
familiar with the public’s perception of negative news and its prevalence in
mainstream media. While it’s true that for American news coverage there is a
barrage of bad news, programs like ABC World News Tonight make an effort to save
the final segment of their show for a positive “Person of the Week” story about
individuals who have done outstanding deeds.
Even so, I still get questions about why news stations and media outlets don’t
cover more good news and feedback about the psychological effect that too much
negative news has on an audience. But I have never seen such a strong concern with
this issue as I have in South Africa. During a shoot in Johannesburg, Regency’s
creative director Shani Kay spoke with me about how the impact of the negative
news narrative often creates a feeling of hopelessness and mistrust between the
general people and bodies of government, law enforcement and corporations.
In the mornings this past summer, I did my best to read local newspapers for
current events and the common headlines I would see involved shootings, robberies
and murders. I was even able to take a trip to a high school in Cape Town’s Mbkweni
township to ask students what they thought about South Africa’s news coverage. In
a classroom of around 30 students, all agreed that their local news outlets and
stations focus solely on negative news, particularly about the corruption within
their country’s politics and government.
Even in a global context, the media’s perception of the continent of Africa as a
whole is mainly negative, consisting heavily of stories about life-threatening
diseases and images of starving children.
Therefore, it is the mission of Regency Global and SA INC to change this by
sharing the stories of corporations that are creating opportunities for disadvantaged
people to attain scholarships, employment and business expansion. The company is
also striving to make this content widely available to audiences around the globe by
tailoring it to fit digital platforms.
For the first season, one episode of SA INC would feature two 12-minute
stories, each about one South African corporation doing social good. Regency also
edits five-minute and one-minute versions of these videos to post on social media
for promotion. This means making further cuts and modifications to the script of the
12-minute video while still maintaining the same message and cohesive storyline as
the original. This strategy of producing additional videos that are shorter than the
original episodes is an important task to Regency because a full 12-minute video
would not attract the attention of users on social media platforms.
Regency has a Facebook and Instagram page to share videos about their
upcoming SA INC episodes and other content. These pages are where their shorter
videos live since users are more likely to consume content that’s easily viewable and
One of my most important tasks at Regency was helping to re-write the
scripts for the social media videos. My last project with the company involved
making 15-second videos for the social media promotion of season two after
Regency’s production and digital marketing team researched the user-engagement
on Facebook and Instagram and discovered that audiences on those platforms only
watched the first 10 to 15 seconds of previous videos they have posted before
moving on to the next post.
Although it is challenging to create a significantly shorter version of a
feature-length video, Regency’s junior editor and I would do so by selecting a standout
character in these stories and using their narrative to tell a small, but intriguing
piece of the bigger picture.
In addition to this, Regency’s film crew also has still photographs taken of
subjects during their shoots, which I have taken in the two months that I’ve interned
for them. These photos are used for social media promotion as well.
With so much content to post, it was also necessary for me to take the time to
work on crafting a calendar to keep track of a posting schedule for all videos, photos
and articles and which pages they are supposed to go on.
Since I have spent time working for both Regency’s production team and
digital marketing team, I have come to understand that in today’s digital age any
kind of company that creates filmed content cannot fully operate without an
understanding of how to make their work engaging on social media as well. My time
with Regency has taught me that platforms like Instagram and Twitter are
incredibly valuable tools in the media industry if they are used strategically and
thoughtfully. By utilizing these techniques, Regency and SA INC can continue their
mission to share the good that is being done in South Africa.
Alex recently graduated from USC with a masters in Journalism. She’s specifically interested in writing about topics that relate to cultural and racial identity. Her interest towards foreign reporting sparked her to get a masters at Annenberg School of Journalism.