The 'third screen' and PR, planning webcasts, more

How do you incorporate the 'third screen' into PR efforts?

How do you incorporate the 'third screen' into PR efforts?

"The first thing we need to do is not to necessarily think about it as the third screen because in some cases it is the first screen," says B. Bonin Bough of Weber Shandwick. "Most executives spend more time in front of their Blackberry than any other screen."

Deciding where it can become valuable to PR pros really depends on the creativity and nature of the client. "A mobile device is always with you, [so] it can first serve as an immediate response vehicle," he adds. It's easy to see how a text campaign for additional information can easily take the place of a URL in a PR campaign. For example, instead of using a URL it might read "for additional information on Product X text to..." Because of the immediacy, the response rates soar.

"Outside of just using mobile devices as an immediate response mechanism, we need to begin delivering content to them," he stresses. "It could be anything from simple press kits, to spokesperson videos, to shopping charts that help you compare products while you shop, to medical questionnaires that you bring with you to the doctor. Anything that is simple and can be molded to mobile consumption, we can begin to encourage people to download and use."

Product promotion
How do you advise a client if their product is too commercial?

"Anyone in business hates to turn down work," says Eric Drath of Live Star Television, "but we operate within an industry that prides itself on objectivity and substance. Our credibility is on the line every time we approach a media outlet.

"There have been many times when we've had to turn down business, or advise against producing a tour," he adds. "If a client comes to us with what appears to be an apparent commercial or direct endorsement of their product, we just know, due to the current environment, that it will not get picked up."

Often, Drath advises, a good solution is to get a third-party spokesperson that can speak on a wider range of topics and include the client's product as just one of many solutions to a particular problem or topic. Ultimately, you still have to be transparent and tell stations who is paying for it.

How long does it take to plan an effective webcast?

"A typical first-time webcast will take approximately four to six weeks from initial planning, to promotion and production, to the event date," explains Sharat Sharan of ON24.

"As you get more familiar with the process, you may reduce the time to three to four weeks, though we always recommend a minimum of three weeks for promotion."

During initial planning, which should start about 30 days before the actual event, Sharan advises that you focus on developing a compelling topic, identifying the presenters and target audience, and the promotional outreach campaign.

"Next, schedule a webcast kick-off call with the presenters about 25 days out to start discussions on the next level of detail," he advises. Determine the target audience, outline some of the survey points for which you will poll the webcast attendees, and decide whether you'll ask any demographic or 'qualifying' questions as attendees register.

"Create the PowerPoint slides about 20 days before the event and begin the promotion then, as well," Sharan adds. Polling questions should be completed five to seven days in advance. Finally, he suggests, schedule a 'walk-through' at least three to five days in advance.

Send your questions to Please contact Lisa LaMotta if you are interested in contributing to PR Toolbox or to suggest ideas for future columns.

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