VNRs, monitoring, and more

Ensuring a medical VNR's success, ways to monitor media more strategically, and more

Ensuring a medical VNR's success, ways to monitor media more strategically, and more

Medical VNRs

My client has developed a treatment for a disease with a small patient population. How will that VNR do in terms of pick-up versus one that addresses a larger patient population?

Medical producers generally seek stories that impact a large segment of their audience, so they tend to focus on cardiology, oncology, HIV, diabetes, and other widespread conditions, says John Gordon of Gordon Productions. "Even if your client's treatment impacts a relatively small group of people, it can be helpful if the VNR can be tied in with a larger patient population," he advises.

Gordon says lining up local doctors and patients is vital to a VNR's success. "It's best to have doctors in as many markets as possible prior to the distribution date and let them know TV stations may contact them," he says. "Finding doctors post-launch is challenging, and TV reporters can lose interest in a story if too much time elapses."

VNRs that are based on larger patient populations do tend to dominate health segments on TV newscasts. However, Gordon says that if you take the proper steps to bring treatments for less common diseases to the attention of health reporters, you can still generate strong results.


How can we monitor media in a more strategic way?

For the most part, multinational companies have refined their systems for global media monitoring to stay informed of news about their company, competitors, and industry on a daily basis, says Dave Farrell of Lone Buffalo. "With this key piece of media monitoring in place, they are now looking for information that's more strategic," he adds.

Consumer-oriented companies are interested in the latest stories on consumer trends and lifestyle issues. Farrell says it's the kind of news that informs research and development in a highly market-driven way.

"B-to-b companies are investing heavily in customer relationship management systems and processes," he continues. "If you are managing large accounts, you want to be completely informed. Staying up-to-date on their news is difficult, but critical."

Farrell notes that monitoring this type of news is tough because it cannot be done with keyword searches.

"It requires intelligence and human filtering to gather only relevant news," he notes. "While harder to monitor, strategic news is worth the added effort."

Trade shows

Is there a proper timetable for trade-show announcements?

Timing is a critical component to generating media exposure, says Peter Brand of Virtual Press Office. "Most announcements are made the first day of the trade show," he says. "While this creates a lot of buzz, it also makes it more difficult for an exhibitor to stand out."

Reed Exhibitions' Beth Blake suggests distributing news releases on the event's second day.

"There is a larger majority of press that attend the second day," she says. "Therefore, your announcement has a better shot of getting more attention."

Other critical factors to consider are the resources provided by the event organizer, Brand says. "Most provide a pre-registered media database to help exhibitors target the most relevant journalists," he says. "Online event media centers also enable exhibitors to post news releases to the show site and distribute to a global audience."


What are some ways to repurpose a VNR?

There are times a video news release can be produced into a 30-second TV PSA and distributed and tracked over a longer period of time, says Ris' Birnbaum of Zcomm.

That same 30-second PSA can also be pitched to a retail outlet, such as Wal-Mart, that reviews PSAs and uses some as filler in broadcasts in all of its stores for one month or more.

"This kind of re-purposing of the original VNR can potentially result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in broadcast value," Birnbaum says.

She adds that the same piece can be leveraged again by placing it around CNN broadcasts on airport monitors across the US. This will help reach business and family travelers, depending on the time of day and year.

PR Toolbox is edited by Erica Iacono, New York-based reporter for PRWeek. Submit questions to her at Also, please contact her if you are interested in contributing to PR Toolbox or to suggest ideas for future columns.

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