The modern PR tool in this digital era…
A write -up in The Hindu BusinessLine, BrandLine on 23 April, 2009.
Getting social, going viral
The multimedia news release is a recent innovation in marketing and corporate communication solutions, and uses the Internet to fuel its spread..
There’s a new kid on the communications block, and it’s called a multimedia news release (MNR). A relatively new entrant to India, the MNR is an integrated communication solution tool that brings video, audio, text, logos, photos, hyperli nks and related documents into a compact and easy-to-use HTML format.
An innovative device that came into being about five years ago, it has been gathering steam the world over in the last three years. PR Newswire, which claims it’s the first to devise an MNR, has made around 75 of them so far worldwide. The company is a specialist solutions provider in the sphere of corporate communications, public relations, financial PR and investor relations. Its India office has made about 10 MNRs in the last two or three financial quarters. PR Newswire distributes the MNR to news wire services and the Internet, reaching over 5,000 Web sites as well as the PR Newswire for Journalists site with over 110,000 registered journalists. “The MNR’s appeal lies in its ability to be manoeuvred. With audio and visual features, links and downloadable content, it’s a 360-degree tool. It’s completely social network-compliant. It allows you to ask more informed and intelligent questions when you’re making a decision,” says Indranil Ghosh, Sales Director - India, PR Newswire.
The MNR delivers across online publications, search engines, blog engines, social bookmarking tools and is claimed to be completely Web 2.0-compliant. Each MNR is tagged for various blog aggregators and social bookmarking sites such as Delicious, Technorati, Digg, Google, Yahoo, Reddit and Newsvine. Also included is a ‘Forward to a friend’ e-mail option for viral marketing. This enables the MNR to feature in all the leading blog engines.
Ghosh claims the MNR has been extremely well-received, with clients including the Tatas, CNBC-TV18, Strategic Foresight Group, MCX, Singapore Mercantile Exchange and in.com.
According to him, it suits a variety of applications – marketing and brand communication, corporate communication, corporate social responsibility initiatives, financial results, general corporate news, CEO speeches and addresses, HR applications, internal communications, partner, vendor and channel communications.
Percept Picture Co.
“Diverse companies are using it to their advantage,” says Ghosh, adding that it cuts across B2B and B2C requirements. For instance, PR Newswire issued an MNR for Percept Picture Company on its movies, Firaaq and Kanchivaram, featuring at the Toronto International Film Festival 2008 and had clips from those movies that viewers could watch. When Sify launched its new e-mail service called World In Your Inbox (WIYI), the MNR had a video of an announcer taking the viewers through the various elements of the mail, a virtual tour of the mail facility, and of course, a widget by which one could register for the service.
Says David Appaswamy, Chief Communications Officer of Sify, the first company in India to use this service: “It’s a very powerful thing. It arouses interest as it represents a current trend, especially in the Western world - most people aren’t reading for very long today, they are consuming information that’s a combination of text and video. Registration for the WIYI went up very sharply and dramatically soon after the MNR was sent out.” He says that while it’s much more expensive than an ordinary press release, Sify plumped for it as its business goals were global.
Also, the innovation “perfectly reflected Sify.com that is really a media business – text, video, pictures, interactive”, he adds, saying that in the Sify MNR case, having a personable, young woman announce the mail’s features was akin to watching a peppy, young, contemporary and energetic VJ.
The price range for an MNR in India has ranged from Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh so far. “It packs so much inside one communication, is cohesive and more fruitful. It’s value for money,” says Ghosh. While it’s not really a patentable solution (as it can have various adaptations), PR Newswire has a proprietary technology applications which is used to make and distribute MNRs. The $225-million (Rs 1,128-crore) PR Newswire is the only company in India which offers such a service at the moment. It operates in 16 countries in four continents and caters to over 170 countries in 40 languages in any media format, type and target base.
PR Newswire also provides data to the marketer on how many times the MNR was viewed, how many and what kind of downloads were made, from which portals viewers approached it, how many linked to it and where, how many journalists in its contact media databases looked at it and who wrote about it. Its attraction also lies in the fact that its footprint can be tracked, especially in tough times such as these when marketers want to know where every penny is going and expect it to deliver, and in that it’s much cheaper than making a TV commercial.
Says Samantha Proctor, Director of Marketing Communications (Europe, Middle East and Africa), PR Newswire: “Social media has exploded and the MNR feeds into that. MNRs are a lot more commonplace in the US but we launched it in Europe just last year. It is growing to be a significant revenue stream. It is now quite small but is growing rapidly and could be the main service in the next few years.”