News Web sites provide video a home

VNRs, b-roll, and other broadcast PR content can also go to traditional media sites.

VNRs, b-roll, and other broadcast PR content can also go to traditional media sites.

A decade ago, perhaps one in 50 Americans sought their news online. Today, that number has grown to almost 30% of Americans, according to the Pew Research Center, a DC-based research group that studies media trends.

As a result, PR pros today need to not only be effective producing and pitching video for traditional broadcast media, but also must pay attention to their online progeny.

"Clients ask if they should also be developing content for the Web," says Larry Thomas, COO of Medialink. "We respond that if you're doing one and not the other, you are not doing enough."

Developing video packages for Web media is similar in nature to doing so for broadcast, with a few minor differences.

"If reporters were able to go out and grab shots on their own, they'd go," Thomas says. "Where you offer value is when they don't have access or don't have it in a timely manner. It's the same for broadcast and Web."

But, as 48% of Americans spend at least 30 minutes digesting news from TV, and only 9% of those spend that time when getting news online, according to Pew, video for Web media needs to be much shorter.

"People absorb news differently online," says Shoba Purushothaman, CEO of The NewsMarket. "But even though our advice is to pitch shorter, snappier video packages, the more video you offer up, the more likely you will be to permeate the online universe."

The NewsMarket recently worked with Johnson & Johnson to promote a series of video elements that also debuted in March as part of its online annual report. Nestled amid an array of interactive features, sound, and Web effects, the report - more akin in format to a magazine than traditional annual report - is professionally produced video.

"J&J is not just one story, but many stories," says Nancy Walker, VP of corporate communications. "We used real people, telling real stories in their own voices. I think that sense of sincerity really comes through."

The approach was to develop video content with not just media in mind, she adds. "Let's face it, with a Web 2.0 world coming, people want to see what's real and authentic, whether it's an editor, analyst, or investor."

Since the debut, J&J notched 45 unique Web uses of the clips, including CNBC, CNN, Bloomberg, and Reuters.

While broadcast PR providers and corporations are increasingly targeting Web sites of the traditional news sources, perspective from the media varies.

At TheStreet.com TV, which currently offers 12 channels of financial news and lifestyle content, executive producer Sandy Brown says his team produces the "lion's share" of the footage internally. He adds that he is primarily interested only in b-roll and executive sound bites.

"My only caveat is we look for CEOs and CFOs of companies with a certain market capitalization," he adds. "If someone comes to us with an SVP or junior VP, and keeps doing it, it gets annoying. No means no."

Meanwhile, a local broadcast affiliate's Web editor in Minneapolis will likely be more accepting. "Smaller operations with limited budgets have the higher likelihood of running your content," says Thomas.

Ultimately, there is no one rule as to whether a news Web site will accept a VNR or just prefer b-roll. It depends on the outlet and the relationship, says Bev Yehuda, VP, media relations/media strategy, MultiVu.

However, making sure the content is not too commercial is still key to success.

"A news Web site will adopt longer formats and more informative segments," she says, "but just as their traditional counterparts, they do rely on journalistic integrity."

In order to appeal to traditional news Web sites, Yehuda recommends offering the many different elements and assets that a site may require, including b-roll, sound bites, a scripted package, photos, and background material. And make all material available in formats that the editor prefers.

Yehuda also suggests developing both a b-roll and scripted segments. This allows footage to be used by both traditional and online media.

Technique tips

DO

Create shorter clips

Offer multiple elements, including b-roll, bites, scripted package, photos, and backgrounders

Study the site to see what kind of content it uses

DON'T

Send the same VNR to a Web site that you pitched to broadcast

Target major media only. Small outlets often are more accepting

Be restrictive. Make material available via a Web site's preferences

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