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
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
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
'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.'
1 Do define your audience and make sure they can accept the
2 Do set attainable and measurable goals, and archive the event
3 Do support streaming with visuals, such as Power Point presentations
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
4 Don't forget to send out invites with appropriate link and password