The right balance

Even with the explosion of Web video, there are some campaigns where traditional broadcast can still play a relevant part.

Even with the explosion of Web video, there are some campaigns where traditional broadcast can still play a relevant part.

According to the American Cancer Society, 10,400 children under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer in 2007; 1,545 patients will succumb to the disease.

To help kids cope, as well as to remind them of the importance of their medical treatments, Cigna Healthcare formed a relationship with HopeLab, a nonprofit that uses policy, research, and other avenues to benefit chronically ill children. Earlier this year, Cigna wanted to get copies of HopeLab's video game, Re-Mission, to adolescent cancer patients. The game, now available on, is set inside the human body where Roxxi, a "nanorobot," fights cancer cells with treatments like radiation therapy.

The health insurance industry is, according to Joseph Mondy, AVP of communication for Cigna, one that still relies heavily on written communication. However, employers, teens, and other key audiences are turning to the Internet. The Re-Mission team worked with Medialink on a broadcast campaign that included a VNR, which appeared both online and on TV.

"The benefit of the Internet is that it becomes part of the archive of materials so people can go back and see [the video] at their leisure," explains Mondy.

The explosion in Web video and other new media tactics has added tools to the broadcast mix, making them a commonplace supplement to traditional tactics. The trick is using the broadcast tools that best suit the campaign.

When Medialink suggested a VNR, Mondy wondered whether it was a good idea, calling perception of the tool "cyclical."

"I wondered if the bloom wasn't off the rose for them," he says. "But I figured the approach could accomplish something that couldn't be accomplished any other way."

The team set out to create a video - featuring a patient, expert commentary, and shots of the actual game - that would be viewed across media. The objective was to produce something that created general awareness and targeted teens who would play the game.

TV coverage provided high visibility and many stations featured the VNR on their sites. Within weeks of the May 30 launch, the campaign generated 150 million impressions on TV, the Web, and other media. In addition, HopeLab received a 500% increase in downloads and 16,000 game requests.

Creating the proper mix
Nationwide Insurance also used a combination of traditional and Web video tactics in a recent campaign designed to inspire difficult conversations, such as financial discussions between spouses.

Working with PR agency Fast Horse and broadcast company KEF Media, on October 31 the company launched, with broadcast initiatives that included b-roll, SMTs, and online video on YouTube and other video sites.

"Being in the right place when [your audience] is in the mindset to engage is critical," says Jim Lyski, CMO of Nationwide. For Gen Y, for example, that means outlets like Facebook. To reach their parents, the traditional tools will work, but older generations are also doing research on the Web.

"The reality is that the traditional media is always going to be on the menu," says Joe Case, PR officer for Nationwide. "The trick is trying to maximize impact with new media tools."

The campaign recruited comedian Frank Caliendo to appear in Web videos and SMTs doing his impersonations of John Madden, President Bush, and other public figures while discussing the importance of humor when dealing with difficult discussions. There was also an SMT featuring Harvard communications expert, Sheila Heen, who served as a strategic partner for the site and has chatted online with consumers.

"Everybody's trying to figure out the best way to use new tools," says Case. "Many things are experiments. The goal is to measure real activity and figure out what works."

In the first weeks since the Web site's launch, there have been about 7,000 visitors each week and the YouTube video has been viewed more than 100,000 times.

Star power's importance
The Ad Council and one of its partners, the Department of Health and Human Services, also know the value of good spokespeople. They worked with the National Football League, the Ladies Professional Golf Association, and characters from DreamWorks Animation's Shrek franchise to create PSAs advising kids to "Be a Player: Get up and play an hour a day" as part of its Small Step Childhood Obesity Prevention campaign. In addition to broadcast outreach and posting the PSA on the Ad Council's site, the team also posted it on video sharing sites.

Working with Home Front Communications, the Ad Council repurposed the PSA to create a video e-mail that was sent to healthcare professionals, as well as other NFL and HHS constituents.

"People are getting really sophisticated about using the Internet both to communicate with consumers as well as move information to stakeholders," says Dan Sallick, partner at Home Front.

Moreover, new media output is becoming as polished as traditional products.

"There's a lot more thought [going] into ... online and on video sharing sites," says Sallick. "We all need to be creating things that make sense for that format."

Ongoing issues for broadcast PR companies

Media fragmentation
Not only is consumer attention being split between traditional broadcast outlets and new media, but also local newsrooms, minority media, niche blogs, and other places where a variety of multimedia products can be showcased. Finding the right blend is critical.

Now that the FCC has announced that Comcast could pay a $20,000 fine for not appropriately disclosing VNR usage, broadcast professionals must take steps to clarify the VNR disclosure standard to ensure transparency.

Educating clients
The opportunities for broadcast footage can range from morning shows to YouTube. Clients will turn to broadcast PR professionals for guidance; broadcast PR professionals have to be equipped to provide it.

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