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Leveraging VNRs

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Get the TV Coverage You Want with a Video News Release

Would you like to get your organization’s news featured on TV? Then, try a video news release, or VNR. These brief, information-packed videos are jewels for reporters and producers looking for interesting stories to feature in their newscasts. With the 24 hour news cycle becoming the standard, outlets like CNN, FOX and MSNBC are constantly in need of original and interesting news stories.

Although original news stories are in high demand, with news producers being bombarded with press releases and VNRs, getting your releases noticed can be difficult. If your VNR isn’t newsworthy or produced in a media friendly manner, there’s a chance that producers will pass on it.

So, how do you increase chances of having your organization’s VNR featured in TV news?

Make It Newsworthy

Make sure that your topic is not just an interesting story but has relevance on a local or national level —whichever audience you’re targeting. A great way for advocacy groups to get noticed is to tie your story to an issue that is already getting media attention. Reporters are likely to pull from your VNR to add more background or an additional angle to an existing news story. Be sure to include facts and statistics in your VNR, since it shows your knowledge and credibility on an issue, as well as giving reporters data that they find interesting.

Think Video Clips: Less is More

A well-packaged VNR should mean less work for producers, which will make it more likely to be featured in the news. Help reporters tell your story by separating your VNR into brief 30, 60, or 75-second news briefs that producers can cut out and incorporate into their broadcast. These brief spots are a great place to feature high quality visuals such as in-person testimonials, professional narration, and infographics. In all, your VNR should run for about three to four minutes. This is ample time to grab the viewer’s attention and inform them on your main idea.

Don’t Go Overboard with Branding

Although you want your organization to be easily recognized, don’t display your logo throughout the entire video. Your VNR should look like a news segment, not a promotional video. An ideal VNR is one that producers can incorporate in news programs without too much editing. Remember, you want to lessen the producer’s workload, not increase it. So, go easy on the branding.

Getting Your VNR to the Right People

Producing a newsworthy video news release is just part of getting your VNR featured in the news. The other crucial step is getting it noticed by the right people. To do this, you want to employ the same media relations strategies that you use to distribute a press release:

  • Distribute your press release to a targeted media list of reporters and editors via email.
  • Include a direct link to your VNR.
  • When building your media list:
    • Don’t forget about daybook editors. These guys are instrumental in determining what stories are covered in each daily newscast.
    • Make sure your list is targeted! Research reporters and editors whose beats are aligned with the theme of your story. For example, if your VNR focuses on budget cuts and the impact on the local public school system, target reporters and editors who cover education, the school board, and even city or county council issues.
  • Place your contact information at the top of the press release to ensure the greatest visibility. Media contacts who are interested in your story will contact you for more details and/or a quote.
  • Post your VNR to your YouTube and/or Vimeo page and include links to these pages in your press release.

In summary, a video news release is the perfect way to grab news editors’ and reporters’ attention. Leveraged properly, this media tool can help your organization become a credible source for news outlets, and get you the media coverage you worked so hard to earn.