Lights, camera, and the power of TV

While recent controversy has shone the spotlight on broadcast PR, these case studies show that VNRs, b-roll, and SMTs still have an integral and powerful role to play in a PR campaign.

While recent controversy has shone the spotlight on broadcast PR, these case studies show that VNRs, b-roll, and SMTs still have an integral and powerful role to play in a PR campaign.

The Home Depot, KEF Media, and MS&L (Atlanta)

Since 1992, The Home Depot has been a supporter of the Olympic Job Opportunity Program (OJOP), which allows Olympic athletes to work at the store part-time during training while still receiving full-time pay and benefits. For the 2004 Summer Games, the company conducted daily SMTs from Athens, garnering an impressive amount of coverage and convincing The Home Depot's in-house PR team that it was something worth repeating for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. MS&L in Atlanta worked with KEF Media on behalf of The Home Depot to get the SMTs completed and stations signed up.

"Broadcast is the ideal medium for driving sales and traffic," says David Sandor, VP of PR for The Home Depot. "It brings immediacy and control to a message that you can't always get in print coverage."

And while outside video footage is under enormous scrutiny these days, by TV stations and outside pundits alike, this campaign was one in which the SMT was the best way to integrate The Home Depot's brand into the story of the Olympic athletes.

"It was clear to me that it was a supply-and-demand PR campaign, pure and simple," Sandor adds. "We recognized that many stations had an Olympic news hole to fill."

Eric Oberman, PR manager, brand/sponsorships and community affairs for The Home Depot, says the team worked with the 38 OJOP athletes at the Games to participate in several SMTs over six days. Targeting stations with stories of local athletes, or just providing guaranteed Olympic coverage, was key to getting pick-up, he adds.

Yvonne Goforth, SVP, client services at KEF, says work for the Turin campaign began in spring 2005, with KEF getting b-roll footage of athletes training and working in stores to serve as a lead-in to the SMTs.

"That was a nice complement to the live interview and helped reinforce the connection between The Home Depot and the Olympic athlete," Sandor says.

And while the Winter Olympics are less of a draw than the Summer Games, KEF was able to secure coverage in almost 200 cities, including 44 of the top 50 markets. "We actually did far better than we expected," notes Sandor.

March of Dimes and DS Simon Productions

When Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, there were hundreds of stories to be told, which presented a challenge for nonprofits seeking support. The March of Dimes was especially interested in helping displaced pregnant women and children.

The group quickly sent workers to shelters to give prenatal care to pregnant women. Two weeks after Katrina, it turned to DS Simon to spread the word of what it was doing to help out via b-roll.

"Broadcast was great to get the message out that [we were] on the ground helping," says Todd Denzen, March of Dimes associate media relations director.

DS Simon shot footage of the group's director of NICU family support, Liza Cooper, in Women's Hospital in Baton Rouge, LA, as she reunited babies who'd been separated from their mothers. The b-roll also featured interviews with Memrie McDonald, Louisiana state director of the March of Dimes. Sylvan Solloway, senior producer at DS Simon, traveled to Louisiana shelters to interview pregnant women who'd been displaced.

"For a story that touches people's emotions, video is by far the most compelling way to communicate," says Doug Simon, president and CEO. Not only did the b-roll get major pickup, but the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Minority Health awarded the March of Dimes a two-year, $500,000 grant to help with premature births in Katrina-affected areas.

Bob Geldof, EF/PR, and On the Scene Productions

Bob Geldof's announcement last May that he was organizing the Live 8 concert extravaganza was done via a global, interactive, simultaneous press conference, therefore requiring a great deal of coordination by EF/PR and On the Scene Productions.

The event was broadcast live from London and Philadelphia, with live interactive comments from Germany, Italy, and Argentina. Elizabeth Freund, president of EF/PR, says having a broadcast component to the PR campaign helped convey the event's "globally united message."

Initially aired live by Sky, BBC, CNN, and Fox, OTSP then edited it down to a 9-minute b-roll, which garnered 952 airdates in the US. Freund says the successful broadcast placement of the announcement "absolutely" contributed to the awareness and later success of Live 8 concerts.

American Airlines and Weber Shandwick (Dallas)

Imagine 20,000 Dallas Mavericks fans finding out that they have just won free tickets from American Airlines during a break in the game. In the background are enthusiastic Mavericks cheerleaders and American Airlines employees waving "We Love the Mavs" signs.

That was the scene on April 19, 2006, when the airline gave away the tickets on "Fan Appreciation Night" as part of a promotion for its new service from Love Field Airport in Dallas. And it was a story that was best told by broadcast.

"The visual aspects of the promotion just lent itself to broadcast so well," says Jodi Venturoni, EVP and GM of Weber Shandwick Southwest. The agency worked with a local freelancer who shot and edited the footage into b-roll, which was then shipped nationally. Venturoni notes that the b-roll was integral in extending the reach of the story.

"It was very local in nature," she says. "It could have very easily been a local story only, which is why we wanted to make sure we got b-roll in the hands of the national networks."

In addition to local coverage in the Dallas area, the event was also highlighted on national programs such as Squawk Box on CNBC, ESPN's SportsCenter, Good Morning America on ABC, and CNN's American Morning.

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