Media fragmentation offers opportunity for comms pros

Broadcast PR is in a state of dynamic change. The internet and the rapid expansion of broadband, wireless technology, and cable and satellite media are all helping transform traditional broadcast PR services into multifaceted marketing and communications tools. The changes are taking place as more and more people seek their news and information from the internet and other new media formats.

Broadcast PR is in a state of dynamic change. The internet and the rapid expansion of broadband, wireless technology, and cable and satellite media are all helping transform traditional broadcast PR services into multifaceted marketing and communications tools. The changes are taking place as more and more people seek their news and information from the internet and other new media formats.

Nielsen/NetRatings reported in September that the number of Americans with broadband access reached 42% in August, rising 16% since the start of the year to about 121 million Americans. Reaching these consumers directly with multimedia content should be a priority for PR pros. It is now imperative for communicators to look beyond traditional broadcast media and take advantage of the vast array of new communications options.

The proliferation of broadband means organizations need not rely on the media to tell their story. This brings new opportunities for organizations that have been challenged by the ability to find a story worthy of the local or national five o'clock news, or those lacking the budgets for commercials. Broadband now makes it possible for any organization to cost-effectively use video to deliver customized messages to diverse audiences.

Multimedia News Releases (MNR) and other web-based tools are allowing all types of organizations to use video to communicate to customers, investors, employees, and other target audiences. Further, organizations that are well-versed in the use of broadcast PR tools have even more opportunities to communicate with audiences.

Tools such as the VNR and b-roll packages, the mainstay of the broadcast PR industry for 20-plus years, are changing to adapt to new media formats and to reach people where they access news. Traditional broadcast PR tools that were directed solely at TV are developing into multimedia packages of content that reach TV, radio, print, and online media, as well as key target audiences directly. There are simple tactics that can help increase the ROI on VNRs, b-rolls, and SMTs - and communicators would be wise to consider them.

Network, cable and satellite TV paid placements can cost-effectively deliver desirable audience demographics that can reach millions of consumers. MPEG-2 video has made broadcast quality video available 24/7 via the internet. Further, Apple's recent introduction of the video iPod has opened up a new channel for communicators to reach consumer audiences directly. By repurposing pre-existing video content or creating new video content tailored to this medium, organizations in all types of industries have a new means of reaching self-selecting consumer audiences directly with video content that is relevant to them.

As mentioned earlier, web-based MNRs are delivering customized multimedia content directly to target audiences. MNRs are interactive communications tools that present news in an HTML format that can be customized with an organization's logo, graphics, video, audio and even electronic brochures. They are a cost-effective means to deliver rich multimedia content to multiple audiences worldwide. Corporations, associations, government agencies, and a variety of other entities are embracing MNRs as media relations and marketing tools. They can extend the reach of multimedia content to media, customers, shareholders, staff, and other target audiences.

MNRs are also extending the reach of VNRs, PSAs, and ANRs beyond broadcast, and giving them new lives as multifaceted marketing tools. During VNR production, for example, additional sound bites can be obtained from company spokespeople that can be used to customize MNRs for investors, employees, and other audiences.

Another technique is to maximize the effectiveness of the time spokespeople spend in the television studio. It's easy to produce a video webcast after an SMT. More specifically, a post-SMT webcast can include additional spokespeople and all the features of a live video webcast. It can be used to extend the news from SMT to nontraditional audiences, such as investors or staffers, or individual consumers.

The following questions will guide your thoughts on how best to approach various audiences:

Are you getting the most from your broadcast PR investment?

What other information would you like the media and others to have when they come in contact with your video content?

What other audiences would you like to reach with multimedia content?

Are you using the expanding options to bring news and information to your target audiences?

Once you've answered these questions, ask your broadcast PR or video production company what new services they've introduced to help you reach all of your audiences while increasing your ROI.

Tim Bahr is president of MultiVu, a PR Newswire company.

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