Webcasts offer optimal environment for product demos

Typical product demonstrations take place on cable TV in the middle of the night or at conferences where they are lost in the noise of other simultaneous demonstrations.

Typical product demonstrations take place on cable TV in the middle of the night or at conferences where they are lost in the noise of other simultaneous demonstrations.

But webcasts offer a company a unique opportunity to show its products to a select audience and potential consumers.

"It's not just a Web event or a PowerPoint presentation; it's interactive," says Adam Zand, account director at Topaz Partners. "In real time you can talk to hundreds of potential customers about whatever you are doing the product demo on."

PR professionals doing webcasts have the option of doing surveys before the event happens so that the product demonstrations can be geared to meet the specific needs of each of the people watching. Doing such surveys also allows them to customize the event to fit the needs of sponsors. Polling questions can be used to gauge how interested potential customers are in the product and how the product can fit into a certain market.

Webcasts are also a good way for the product to be seen in full, whereas television commercials can often be too short to really exhibit the full potential of the product. It can often be more memorable than a 30-second ad on TV or a three-minute spot on a news program.

Jennifer Windrum, PR counsel at Swanson Russell Associates, says the agency recently worked on a campaign for the Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha, NE, to webcast the PillCam ESO, a camera-in-a-pill that allows doctors to evaluate diseases of the esophagus. Dr. Charles Filipi, a surgeon at the medical center, used the web-cast as a way to communicate with patients.

"This was an opportunity for the TV-viewing audience to ask questions about the product and interact with the doctor," says Windrum. "We were able to get more in-depth with the station, and we were able to use a different vehicle via the Internet to do that.

"We spent less money on this webcast than we would have spent on an advertising or PR campaign that reached the same amount of people," she adds.

Key points:

Product demonstrations via webcast enable companies to use the archive for educational purposes

Clips from the webcast can be used by news organizations to further promote the product

Archived webcasts can be played at conferences for easy product demos

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