THINKPIECE: Just being a dot-com is no longer enough to get your company noticed. It’s time to get creative

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.

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

Web.



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

to viewers.



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

up.



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.



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