Empty News Room

A large part of my week is spent meeting with clients to discuss their communications and media objectives. In one such meeting last week, my client announced that they would be increasing the number of Video News Releases (VNRs) they produce for distribution  to the Canadian broadcast media.  As multimedia becomes more important for online coverage, this wasn’t exactly an earth shattering announcement. What did surprise me, however, was that they had no intention of using the content to build up an online or social media presence (aside from eventually posting the VNRs to their website’s media section).

Instead, their reasoning for increased VNRs is as follows: News rooms across the country have been cutting journalist and editorial positions in an effort to save their bottom lines. This has meant an increased workload for the members still on staff and a decreased likelihood that every story will get the same attention it might have a few years ago.  My client is betting that if they increase the number of ready-to-air VNRs they distribute to these overworked and understaffed outlets, their chance of televised coverage will increase and they will benefit from more air time and exposure.

One hopes (and advises) that the stories are still strong and news worthy. Otherwise, why bother with the production efforts? This  made me wonder if any other agencies or organizations are increasing their VNR output for the same reason. Mike Masnick recently posed a similar question in his TechDirt post “Corporations Hiring Their Own Reporters“. He too notes a definite shift towards corporate journalism. Will we see more VNRs and corporately crafted stories run in the place of journalist-generated content? Does this pose an unfair advantage to companies with deeper pockets? What are your thoughts?

-Heather

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