In the last quarter of 1999, you couldn’t turn on the TV (let alone log onto the Internet) without being inundated with various dot-com messages. It’s no secret to anyone that the dot-com industry dug deep into its pockets to spend record dollars on PR and advertising this past holiday season, with some companies faring better than others.
In the last quarter of 1999, you couldn’t turn on the TV (let alone
log onto the Internet) without being inundated with various dot-com
messages. It’s no secret to anyone that the dot-com industry dug deep
into its pockets to spend record dollars on PR and advertising this past
holiday season, with some companies faring better than others.
The broadcast PR business was no exception to dot-com frenzy. With sites
varying from toys to fine jewelry, TV newsrooms saw no end to consumer
video news releases and B-roll related to holiday offerings on the
But as the dust settles, several lessons emerge on how Web companies can
use broadcast PR effectively as the industry matures.
Message It is no longer enough to present Web site-based stories as news
simply because they enable consumers to perform a task over the Web -
especially shopping. Just as in all effective PR, the most important
part of any VNR or B-roll is beginning with a powerful message. The
companies that took their message to the next level - for example,
providing tips on using the Web to save money or protect children - were
well-received by newsrooms, because they had information of real value
Visuals The word from our newsroom contacts is that they’ve had their
fill of computer screen visuals. While sometimes it is necessary to show
how a Web site is navigated, the more effective footage included shots
that TV stations could not get for themselves. Unique visuals included
behind-the-scene footage: how do the companies behind sites like
Amazon.com get the right products to their customers? Telling the story
behind the site is just one way to make a visual impact that is more
likely to get a piece aired.
Spokespeople Of course, no one knows the Web site better than a
company’s founder and president, but using that person as a VNR’s only
spokesperson could limit its credibility. Third-party spokespeople such
as recognized experts in the field enhance the credibility of a story
and increase the likelihood that television stations will pick it
Timing The wider the window of opportunity for your story, the more
likely it is to be used. We saw this past holiday season that those
companies that released their VNRs by early November had a much greater
pick-up than those that waited until two weeks before Christmas.
Dot-com stories are no longer news in their own right. To get our Web
site clients seen and heard now takes the same kind of strategy and
original thinking that good sites are made from. In other words, even
with the best Web innovations, the rules of good PR still apply.