PR TECHNIQUE - STREAMING MEDIA: The long arm of streaming media -Streaming media is growing in popularity. Craig McGuire reports on itspracticality in communicating with the media, employees and investors

When Miramax promoted Scary Movie last summer, studio honchos

insisted on more bang for their PR buck. So they enlisted Centerseat to

create a virtual press junket using real-time streaming technology.



Centerseat set up an online interface, including material about the

movie, star bios and marketing information provided by Miramax PR. Via a

password-protected link, reporters accessed the live video/audio feed

(56K and 100K in Windows Media format). Anna Faris, Regina Hall, Dave

Sheridan and Lochlyn Munro, four actors from the movie, were also on

hand to field questions.



'While attending the junket, reporters could simultaneously access plot

summary, cast bios and related e-commerce (Miramax DVDs such as

Scream),' says Anila Kalbi, PR director for Centerseat. 'Miramax reached

more online reporters than they would have with a normal press

junket.'



Communication is much more effective when you're talking with someone,

not at them. More and more companies are using streaming technology to

enhance Webcasts, thereby improving the quality of events such as press

conferences, shareholder meetings, product launches, employee outreach

and training sessions.



'Streaming media adds a personal element to the Web experience that can

better connect the participant to the speaker,' says Kathy Sulgit,

manager of seminar programs for Cisco Systems. 'It gives the participant

a better sense of being in the same room as the speaker if they can see,

as well as hear them.



'We achieve better ratings and higher audience levels worldwide,' she

adds. 'We can present more technical information online and drive deeper

into technical content.'



When incorporating streaming technology into your event, there are a

number of basics to nail down. First, you need to assess whether or not

your event should be one-way or two-way, live or on-demand, conducted

from a studio or from some other location.



Once you work out the logistics, target your audience and set attainable

and measurable goals. Select a skilled presenter, and conduct training

and rehearsal sessions.



Make sure to invite your audience well in advance, and make sure they

have the technical capabilities to participate. It's also a good idea to

incorporate a number of static visual elements.



'Our event-casting services feature slides, incorporate text, photos,

graphics, and offer a control center that allows for a two-way exchange

of information,' says Melissa May, director of marketing for Digevent, a

company that specializes in planning online, interactive events. 'We've

offered clients b-roll services, including agendas, bios, links and

other information, that have been incorporated into event sites serving

a promotional purpose.'



Streaming technology is an especially useful tool when you've got a

sophisticated message to get across. 'I felt that one of the products we

were introducing was hard to understand, so I was afraid that I might

lose otherwise interested journalists,' says Remi Watson, PR director

for Music Buddha. 'I decided to produce a Webcast with our CEO, John

Adams, explaining the product and its benefits in a morning talk show

format with a well-known TV host asking questions.'



It's also important to keep in touch with your audience. 'We incorporate

evaluation components into the program,' says May. 'Companies can poll

audience members and gauge their opinions. Two-way messaging allows them

to ask questions and get answers immediately. During live events,

reporters can privately question experts moderating the event or ask the

presenters public questions.'



Think streaming technology is still a step ahead of your audience? Think

again. According to Jupiter Research, 32.6 million people have broadband

access either at work (24 million) or at home (8.6 million), and

broadband penetration in the US alone is expected to reach more than 83

million people by 2005. Furthermore, Jupiter claims that spending on

streaming will reach 2.5 billion in 2005, and the biggest slice of

streaming budgets will be spent on product launches and marketing

applications.



Selecting the right vendor to help deliver your message is almost as

important as the message itself, as an entire industry has sprung up

around the technology. Both the major newswires, Business Wire and PR

Newswire, offer quality, end-to-end streaming capabilities in-house or

via strategic partnerships.



Depending upon the sophistication of your program, you may want to shop

around to bring the cost down. Digevent, like most vendors, has a

sliding scale starting at under dollars 1,000 for basic streaming

services. But remember, you get what you pay for. 'For a fully planned,

live video event-cast, our prices range from about dollars 6,000 to

dollars 15,000, but most clients pay on the low end,' says May.



'Although posting a PR Newswire Webcast was fairly reasonable, I was

concerned about production costs for the video,' says Music Buddha's

Watson.



'Instead, I used the services of a new production company that bundled

two production jobs for dollars 1,200. I received a great price from Red

Zeppelin, my video production company, based on the desire for both

parties to foster an ongoing business relationship.'



'Adding streaming media doubles the cost and requires the support of a

stream media vendor,' says Cisco's Sulgit. 'However, for the right

topic, the cost is justified, and it is still less expensive than

sending someone on the road.'



TECHNIQUE TIPS



1 Do define your audience and make sure they can accept the

technology



2 Do set attainable and measurable goals, and archive the event



3 Do support streaming with visuals, such as Power Point presentations

and graphics



4 Do assess your event needs and shop around



1 Don't rely on the technology alone to engage your audience



2 Don't let a vendor talk you into add-ons you won't need



3 Don't rely solely on your vendor. Have some in-house expertise

on-hand



4 Don't forget to send out invites with appropriate link and password

information.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.