Why a video news release needs to be part of your PR strategy

Leisa Goddard

Adoni Media managing director Leisa Goddard.

It’s been standard practice for years for movie studios to release highlights of films and interviews with stars to promote new films.

Now, businesses are increasingly using video news releases (VNRs) with video highlights of what they do and interviews with their key spokespeople to promote their brand.

In a world where newsrooms are downsizing and there are fewer camera crews to attend media calls, but there is greater demand for information and stories thanks to the 24-hour news cycle, the VNR is the latest PR tool for helping organisations gain media coverage.

As a foreign correspondent based in Los Angeles I regularly worked with electronic press kits and now increasingly am filming and producing them for Australian clients across all sectors — from health and the arts through to giants in the resource sector.

The importance of VNRs

Historically, the traditional written media release was the PR tool organisations relied on to provide journalists with information and quotes. The written release is great for newspaper journalists, but what about radio and TV? A VNR immediately gives broadcast journalists the audio and visuals they need to put a story to air.

VNRs are also particularly useful for gaining coverage in regional markets because you can localise the content to meet the parochial demands of newsrooms in specific areas. For example, if you have an event or media call in a major city but what is being discussed could be of interest to regional viewers, you can include ‘grabs’ or quotes mentioning local towns and then send it to newsrooms in those regions. The end result is usually coverage in major metro markets as well as key regional areas.

A VNR also helps safeguard you in the event a big story breaks or networks are short-staffed. In today’s media climate, television crews will often want to cover your event, but if a major news story breaks on the day (such as a tragedy) then crews can be diverted.

It doesn’t mean your event isn’t newsworthy, so if you go to the effort of creating a media event, a VNR goes a long way to ensuring coverage regardless of how many crews might be available.

VNRs are also an important tool in a time of crisis. It allows you, especially in the social-media world, to have a voice when a crisis or a big news event is unfolding and provides you with control of your message until you can hold a press conference.

As a value-add, the footage from a VNR is also useful for company websites and as social-media content.

When can a VNR be used?

There’s no real limit for when a VNR can be utilised. If the event is considered newsworthy enough that you would send out a media release or invite media to attend, a VNR is appropriate.

Some examples include:

  • A product launch that involves a stunt;
  • The release of new technology, such as an app, to show it in action; 
  • A new musical production with plenty of glitz and glamour
  • The hospitality industry might use it to show behind the scenes footage of a celebrity’s visit;
  • Stories featuring footage of remote areas which news crews wouldn’t be able to get to, such as drought relief projects; and
  • News stories that require permissions, for example, health stories showing a hospital ward or sports clubs stories with footage of children.

As long as there are good pictures, and the story is newsworthy, the opportunities for businesses of any size to use VNRs are endless.

How is a VNR different to a corporate video?

A corporate video is about high-quality, often colour-corrected footage, music and messaging, edited into a longer-format video. A VNR is about providing the pieces of the puzzle that journalists need to put together a story, as they would if they had attended the media call.

The audio can be used for radio news bulletins, while the pictures and the interviews can be used for television and online.

A royal case study

VNRs are used across all areas of business, from startups through to corporate giants, spanning resources, the arts, health, technology, aged care, tourism, and even for a Royal visit.

An example is Meghan and Harry’s recent visit to Fraser Island, where King Fisher Bay Resort, which is part of the Accor group, was able to gain added media coverage because they provided content otherwise not available to mainstream media.

Kingfisher Bay Resort used a VNR to offer behind the scenes footage and interviews of the Royal couple’s stay, which was used in news stories on channels 10, 9 and 7 as well as on international news sites.

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