Are video or audio news releases (VNR and ANR) worthwhile?
First up, a definition: A VNR or ANR is a complete news story – talent, voiceover, vision, background audio, introduction, expert and case study quotes et al that is pre-made by the publicity seeker and distributed to newsrooms to be either played as a whole or used in part to create a news item. Like traditional media releases, VNRs and ANRs are made, distributed and promoted with no guarantee of receiving coverage.
It’s a natural progression from a written media release and is aimed to give radio and television reporters the same head start that the written word provides for their print colleagues. Instead of simply rewriting, copying and pasting as lazy / time pressured print journos do with your traditional releases, ANRs and VNRs allow lazy / time pressured radio and TV journos to rework, cut, paste and go to air.
It makes for bad, lopsided media coverage and is thus very popular with large corporates, military and government. The practice can be damn expensive but also creates expanded opportunities. Publicly editors poo-poo ANR / VNR but they are used regularly.
They are HUGE in the US but should we use them here in Australia’s nonprofit marketing world? Hootville says, “probably not” though some local publicists swear by them. Why?
They are complex: you’ll need time to play publicist and journalist. You may soon develop some respect for the craft of turning your story idea, talent and facts into a finished story. Remember; an ideal VNR / ANR could be aired with just an overdub of the voiceover.
You’ll need some extra resources to create broadcast-quality audio or video. That takes time, research and money.
You still need to pitch the story successfully to journalists who then take up your offer of the ANR / VNR. Having a ready rep[ort only goes so far, persuasion is still required.
Suddenly you may need more coverage than normal to justify your efforts to bosses.
Distributing ANR / VNR via satellite to newsrooms can be clumsy and expensive.
The media that says yes, might, just might, want to do the story their own way anyhow and not take advantage of your effort and money. Or they may skew it in unexpected ways.
VNR stories are usually a little …off key…to the switched-on viewer. We saw a VNR-inspired TV news story in Queensland recently. The item was about mosquito control and encouraged viewers to empty all sources of water around their home to reduce mosquito habitat.
By the time we’d seen the seventh example of a good citizen (each a different nationality) contentedly turning over a bowl of water in their back garden we knew something was awry. It was too instructive, too detailed and too…happy. Some Googling uncovered a state government department was behind the story.
And; oh, ANRs and VNRs just further corrupt media coverage.
Are audio news releases and video news releases ever worth the effort? Sometimes, yes:
When you have some big name talent (say a famous ambassador) with big appeal but limited time, newsrooms will be willing to compromise and use a ANR / VNR. Your talent’s time is maximised as is your coverage.
When you have a genuinely national story that will create a lot of interest in a short period of time, over a broad area in which you don’t have spokespeople, potentially creating more demand in more places than you can meet.
When you have a strongly regional / rural story. Short-staffed regional newsrooms may be less fussy.