OP-ED: Broadcast PR helps companies reach new audiences

I remember that when I first started out in this business many years ago, broadcast PR had one purpose: to provide information to the television news media in an appropriate format that would allow it to be readily incorporated into news programming. While this is still the primary goal of broadcast PR campaigns, the advent of the internet and the development of new technologies that work within an internet environment have given birth to a new era in broadcast PR.

I remember that when I first started out in this business many years ago, broadcast PR had one purpose: to provide information to the television news media in an appropriate format that would allow it to be readily incorporated into news programming. While this is still the primary goal of broadcast PR campaigns, the advent of the internet and the development of new technologies that work within an internet environment have given birth to a new era in broadcast PR.

We can now take the same video content developed for a traditional broadcast PR campaign, repackage it, and target it directly to multiple audiences, thereby extending the reach of say, a video news release, far beyond the media. Furthermore, companies that have never before considered broadcast PR have begun to embrace these new technologies as a means to reach their vendors, suppliers, business partners, and importantly, consumers. This new era allows an automobile airbag manufacturer headquartered in Sioux City, IA to visually communicate the benefits of its new, safer airbag to all the major car manufacturers across the country while fielding their questions; or it allows an entertainment company in Los Angeles, CA launching a new roller-coaster ride to generate an early buzz among roller-coaster enthusiasts by actually showing them the dynamics of the new ride and the thrill it evokes; or it enables a pharmaceutical company to communicate the benefits and side effects of a new FDA-approved cancer drug to both doctors and patients alike. And it's so easy. That same video content produced for other publicity efforts - such as video news releases - can be repurposed (or a company can produce new video) and distributed with additional content assets like a CEO message, consumer product information, testimonials, photos, interactive capabilities, and more - all from one multimedia platform, deliverable over the internet to a company's business, consumer, media, and financial audiences. We live in a visual society. People like to see, touch, and smell what they are buying. Although we haven't solved the problem of touch and smell in available technologies, I have no doubt that day will come too (now I may have gone too far, but you get the idea). But short of that, the next best thing is seeing what you are buying, whether you are a car manufacturer outfitting next year's vehicles with new airbags, a teenager anticipating the opening of the newest roller coaster, a patient or caregiver researching new treatment options for a medical condition, or an investor seeking new opportunities. You may be asking yourself how this falls into the public relations category. The answer: because broadcast PR companies are already in the business of packaging client messages into visual communications. There will always be a case for reaching the media with these messages; the importance of third-party endorsements is indisputable. But why not leverage these assets for new audiences while saving money and time? Communication devices such as these are what will bring advertising, marketing, and public relations closer together. Additionally, broadcast PR is taking on a new role because of the challenges new technologies such as TiVo pose to traditional spot advertising on TV. Television news programs remain a staple source of information in the typical American household, and video news releases, b-roll, and satellite media tours provide companies with a way to reach the American consumer with a marketing message in a format that is not typically flipped through. Furthermore, technologies such as Pathfire's Digital Media Gateway (DMG) now deliver video news directly to the desktops of thousands of television reporters and producers. The Pathfire DMG will raise the chance that public relations, marketing, or advertising messages have of making it onto the six-o'clock news, and make broadcast PR an even more effective communications tool. By creating the ability to target your visual PR message directly to your key audiences via new interactive multimedia platforms, and providing new opportunities to use the media to communicate your marketing and advertising messages, broadcast PR will help change the way companies communicate. Introducing these new tools into your advertising and marketing departments - and combining them with more traditional methods - will create more opportunities for your company or clients to reach new audiences.
  • Tim Bahr is president of MultiVu, a PR Newswire company.

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