The following is an edited excerpt from "In the News: The
Practice of Media Relations in Canada" by William Wray Carney
(published by The University of Alberta Press, 2002).
Video News Releases (VNRs) are just that: broadcast-quality videos
intended for release to television stations. They typically contain
a "story" in television format, complete with reporter,
just as a news release imitates a news story. The story is 60 to
120 seconds in duration. It also contains a B-roll, which is additional
footage a station can use depending on the angle it wishes to take.
For example, the main VNR describes a new product or service and
is promotional in tone; the B-roll might contain visuals of how
the product is manufactured, how it is used and how it was financed
(for the business media). Because of their extensive preparation
and distribution time, VNRs lend themselves best to feature stories,
particularly in the fields of entertainment, business and science.
They can, however, be used for hard news or breaking stories; for
example, the most-used VNR in 1993 was a series of four releases
sent out by Pepsi in response to a rumour about product safety.
Most advertising agencies can arrange to produce VNRs. They are
costly to make (in the range of $20,000), duplicate and send out
(about $6,500), but they are still cheaper than a national advertising
campaign, for which the same amount of money might buy time on one
major market alone. VNRs are used extensively by television, just
as print news releases are used by all media. A 1992 survey indicated
that all of the responding television stations used VNRs in their
newscasts. However, as with news releases, TV reporters use VNRs
as a tip to their own story. The station will edit the release,
particularly the B-roll, and adapt it to its own purposes.
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