Video marketing is no new phenomenon. We’re so deep into video’s golden age that it’s going platinum — each year platforms evolve, proliferate, and adoption increases. But this isn’t about the TikTok and Instagram Reels opportunities you’re missing, this is about an old classic you may have overlooked.
The video news release (VNR) has been around for years, in fact it’s been the framework for every evening news promo for generations. That’s not to say that it’s played out, quite the opposite: it’s evergreen.
GreenCollar, Australia’s leading environment markets company, were launching the first-ever Reef Credits (think carbon credits but for Australia’s Great Barrier Reef). They secured their first major customer, the financial titan that is HSBC, and needed to get the word out.
VNR was the only tool for the job. Why? It’s about controlling the narrative. Our story involved multiple stakeholders, each with their own part to play in the announcement, and the VNR allowed us to capture each voice in one succinct package, telling it the way we wanted it to be told. It also means that we were able to disseminate the message to the Queenslanders it was directed at — rather than hosting a media call in one location we were able to compile interviews and footage relevant to the area. We also sliced the footage into a series of talking heads for owned and paid media — add to this that a VNR navigates long commutes and COVID restrictions and it was a no brainer.
The result? The story featured in all major commercial stations across regional Queensland, but the flexibility of the format meant that our b-roll was picked up by ABC at a national level, and BBC World News took it global.
Those tossing up using the VNR for their own PR should consider some of the following benefits.
- VNR’s allow you to better control the message. You have editing control over who you include in the spokesperson mix, and the specific grabs and b-roll that news desks have access to; you don’t have to rely on external crews to get it right.
- They make it easier on TV crews, too. Whether constraints are coming from shrinking newsrooms, remote locations, or even just busy news days, VNRs give TV crews everything they need to show the story with a bow on top.
- You own the assets. If you’re getting someone else to shoot for you, getting a hold of the perfect cuts to suit your owned, earned, or paid media opps can be a nightmare. With a VNR, you always have the goods.
Naturally, there are counterpoints to weigh up — the big one being cost. Effective planning is the salve here, as building the VNR into the campaign from the get-go will manage expectations. But VNR costs aren’t as hefty as most video production because they’re all about mastering the basics.
A good VNR is a no-frills, honest depiction of the story. It’s tempting to impart emotion onto content, but a good videographer knows the news is unbiased and they’ll present the story as impartially as possible. You can have an interviewer and videographer shoot in the morning, get selects to the comms team in the afternoon, and have the final VNR with internal notes done by the end of the next day.
The art here is navigating the thin margin of error. Turning around footage fast means nailing the b-roll by knowing which shots of the interview subject will naturally interpolate with the audio and being able to work in any situation. Is the location a factory floor? There’s every chance you’re going to shoot some tight shots and do the interview in the car.
A VNR isn’t always relegated to client work, either. In fact, as our senior account executive Jacob Schnackenberg recently figured out, they’re not always done just for clients.
As part of a grand scheme to propose to the missus, he had planned a trip to Tacoma to re-enact Heath Ledger’s performance of ‘Can’t Take My Eyes off of You’ in 10 Things I Hate About You, marching band and all. But, because of COVID, he had to get creative. He recreated the scene on home turf down in Phillip Island, and put together a VNR not only to give them something to remember, but also to shout his love from the rooftops.
And it worked. 9News picked up the story and we were all able to revel in his proposal on the tele.
What are the key learnings from a VNR proposal? Jacob says mastering editing time and knowing the location is crucial. He was capturing footage on a location that had to be chopped together and uploaded from a remote area with poor internet, all done that day before 3pm. Preparedness is essential.
Oh, and her answer? She said yes. KPI achieved!