NYT spreads viral 'conversation' to promote its Web site

NEW YORK: The New York Times launched a viral video and brand awareness effort December 9 to promote its Web site to old and new readers.

NEW YORK: The New York Times launched a viral video and brand awareness effort December 9 to promote its Web site to old and new readers. Working in collaboration, the marketing and PR teams hope to demonstrate that the site is not just a reproduction of the print edition, but that it offers additional and exclusive content including articles, blogs, and videos.

The effort created celebrity video testimonials, or “conversations,” in which the subject talks about what they love about NYTimes.com's diverse multimedia elements. They were then posted to its Facebook and YouTube channels, and a new microsite, said Yasmin Namini, SVP of marketing and circulation at the Times. These videos are “easily sharable through a number of social networking sites,” she said.

In addition to hoping readers spread the videos virally on their own, the PR team is reaching out to blogs and key trade titles to further distribute them, according to Pat Eisemann, assistant director of media relations at the Times.

The effort, which features the tagline, “Where the conversation begins,” targets both Times customers and the general public, including many first-time visitors, Namini said.

For instance, a video featuring Dr. Mehmet Oz, who frequently appears on the The Oprah Winfrey Show, is expected to draw viewers from that program to the Times' online health and science content, while the testimonial by Top Chef host and actress Padma Lakshmi should expose her fans to the media brand's fashion and style verticals, Namini added.

“[The Times aimed to] demonstrate that [the Web site] is much more than the newspaper online, that there is a great depth of multimedia and interactive features that are unique and exciting, and we wanted to demonstrate that in a fun and viral way,” she said.

Additional videos might be added in 2009.

The concept behind the campaign was hatched a number of months ago, and was not created in response to the financial turmoil affecting the media industry as it struggles to replace print advertising revenues with those earned online, Namini said.

“We did this because we wanted to help our users and non-users alike to understand that there is much more to NYTimes.com [than the print content],” she said.

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