Showing posts with label outdoor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label outdoor. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 2

Writing News Releases: CBS vs. Visa


Yesterday, the first high-definition 3-D projection display was unveiled in New York City's Grand Central Station, allowing consumers who accept 3-D glasses from "brand ambassadors" to view 3-D commercials.

The idea alone, attempting to stop some 70,000 consumers to watch commercials as they pass by the display every day, is oddly interesting because it requires consumers to volunteer to watch 3-D commercials that are only shown between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. with regular broadcast commercials being shown the rest of the time. (The display is supported with 3-D dioramas and other elements, which do not require glasses.)

However, determining whether the 3-D concept is remotely effective requires placing it on our watch list. On the other hand, no waiting is needed to appreciate how CBS Outdoor, which owns the 8 x 14-foot 3-D display, and Visa, which is the primary media buyer, essentially released the same news very differently.

1. Format. Short vs. Long-Format News Releases.

CBS issued its release primarily via PR Newswire and PR Web. It is a short-format release, with just under 400 words, excluding the boilerplate. Visa, which issued its release via Businesswire, sent out a long-format release, with more than 1,200 words, which includes a list but excludes the boilerplate.

Conventional public relations instruction suggests that news releases ought to be confined to one page (roughly 400 words) as followed by CBS. Visa broke from this conventional wisdom, providing richer content and substantive details about the 3-D outdoor and how it ties into its Go World Olympic campaign.

While Visa might have broken the story into two releases, its release is the better read. They are much more in line with the non-conventional wisdom I teach, which reinforces writing tight but without any constraints or rules. Simply put, the best releases share the story in the amount of words required to tell it. Nothing more. Nothing less. Visa, point. CBS, zero.

2. Content. Exclusive vs. Inclusive Content.

The CBS news release is exclusive to CBS Outdoor. It contains two quotes, one from CBS and another from N4D.

While the release does give a nod to its client, Visa, and N4D (which creates and converts video/film content into a 3-D format), the message is confined to a singular story. Even the headline suggests what it ought to be: "CBS Outdoor Brings 3-D Outdoor Advertising to New York's Grand Central Station."

The Visa release is inclusive, covering multiple topics such as the 3-D display, the Go World campaign, the Olympic-related content, the exact times street teams will pass out glasses, and the Team Visa Olympic members to be featured. It includes two quotes, one from Visa and another from CBS.

The headline underscores the nature of the release: "Visa Uses 3-D Video to Bring Go World Ad Campaign to Life in Grand Central Terminal."

Without question, the Visa release is inclusive, with a headline that suggests why we might care. Point, Visa. CBS, zero.

3. Quotes. Expected vs. Interesting.

The CBS quotes, in both the CBS and Visa releases, talk about CBS, its outdoor technology, and the location of that technology. In the CBS release specifically, both quotes read as the expected response, with sentences that include tried and tired nails-on-chalkboard fodder from CBS and N4D.

"CBS Outdoor is very proud..." and "And we're thrilled to be doing so with Visa..." and "Working with CBS Outdoor is a tremendous opportunity for N4D..." Yawn.

The Visa release quote emphasizes the Olympic Games, the campaign, the technology, social media, and how they intend to tie everything together. Antonio Lucio, chief marketing officer, tells us exactly what they are attempting to do.

"With the help of innovative 3-D technology and popular social media sites, we're able to strengthen our connection to the Olympic Games and drive transactions during the Games with a breakthrough promotional offer – a trip to the Olympic Winter Games for life.” (The CBS quote in the Visa release is better too, but still smacks of a pitch.)

Quotes are important to the release. They are best served up with supportive content and interesting perspectives. Anything that begins "We're pleased," "thrilled" or "proud" ought to be added to the cliche list. It's boring. Visa, point. CBS, zero.

4. Expansiveness. Standalone vs. Find More Here.

While PR Newswire and PR Web have social media features, the CBS release doesn't really include in-content links beyond the internal ticker symbol tracking provided by PR Newswire. There is another generic link to the CBS Web site, but no link to CBS Outdoor or any online location with more information or visuals. What you read is what you get.

The Visa release includes two in-content links. The first is to its Go World YouTube channel. The second is to its Go World Facebook fan page (link omitted because the fan page had not launched by post time). Within the boilerplate content, it included five links, two of which store downloadable Visa Olympic images, videos and assets. It also included a link to the Visa Web site.

While the amount of content is almost overwhelming, it clearly supports anyone who has an interest in any portion of the story. Point, Visa. CBS, zero.

5. Modernization. One-Way Broadcast vs. Social Connections.

Again, while PR Newswire and PR Web both have social media sharing functions, the CBS release only includes "blog it," "e-mail it" sharing options. There is nothing to comment on, or connect with beyond a singular media contact.

The Visa release, as mentioned, provides links to several sites, including two social media outlets: YouTube and Facebook. It also includes 12 sharing options and two points of contact for the media. In many ways, YouTube is limited as a two-way communication channel and Visa had not launched the Facebook page prior to the release.

Clearly, it would have been more effective to launch the fan page two weeks ago, with a different release. This would have provided Visa the opportunity to promote its NYC campaign to its members. As an additional option, it could have purchased Facebook advertisements, with an emphasis on a proximity purchase in New York.

Not perfect, but Visa has a fine start. Half point, Visa. CBS, zero.

Conclusions and Outcomes.

If you were keeping score, it isn't hard to deduce that the Visa release wins 4 1/2 points to 0. But what about where it really matters?

To be fair, we might mention that Visa had a head start with its release being sent out yesterday. CBS issued its release this morning. However, from strictly a total exposure standpoint, CBS captured about 25 media/quasi media mentions and one blog post. The Visa release captured at least 200+ media/quasi media mentions and five blog posts, plus inclusion on the Team USA site.

In addition to total exposure, almost all of the CBS releases are release reruns, essentially filler for online and offline publications with no time or nothing better to report. The Visa mentions performed slightly better, with approximately 40 percent of the stories focused on specific angles within the release, especially its contest. The Visa release also went further with sports niche publications, which is precisely what it wanted to do.

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Monday, August 27

Driving Ads: FreeCar Media

FreeCar Media, which is a nontraditional marketing company with offices in Los Angeles and New York, seems to have stumbled upon the right guerilla marketing mix by leveraging prime advertising real estate — consumer-owned vehicles.

According to a recent The New York Times story, thousands of motorists are already signing up to have their cars and trucks wrapped in advertisements. While the story said the mentions a stipend of up to $800 a month, FreeCar Media only includes for up to $400 per month on its Web site, which covers some car payments.

In some cases however, drivers may not have to think about payments at all. Some receive a new car to use for about two years in lieu of a cash stipend (insurance and gas is still the responsibility of the driver). As an interesting side note, applicants seem strongly encouraged to consider changing their policy to Progressive, creating a guerilla marketing campaign of sorts within a guerilla marketing campaign.

This might trump the old saying “never look a gift horse in the mouth,” but perhaps just a bit. Pause long enough to know what you are filling out as wrapping the vehicle might not be the only criteria. Those chosen are also asked to refrain from smoking, littering, or swearing in their vehicle (easy); attend a monthly “influencer event” where they hand out samples or coupons (moderate); and send reports and frequency updates that include photos of where the cars have been (hard).

Applicants are not always selected because it is the advertisers who choose the drivers they want. This decision, according to the company, is largely based on how much information the applicant is willing to provide. However, whether the company uses this information for other marketing purposes is also not clear.

What is clear is that it has worked for some products and companies: Pringles, HBO, International House of Pancakes, and Tang are all among them. In the Pringles case study from 2001, a fleet of 25 consumer-owned vehicles were wrapped in Atlanta.

At the inception of that campaign, all 25 vehicles lined up in front of Turner Stadium for a Braves vs. Mets game. All the drivers and their families (which consisted primarily of soccer moms/dads), sat in the back of their vehicles passing out free Pringles samples to 52,000 baseball fans. It was not clear whether the families received additional compensation for their time at the game or if the wraps were removed at the end of the 3-month campaign.

What is starting to interest me is how far consumers will allow advertising to permeate their lives and what are the long-term consequences to the dilution of the message. Already, some studies suggest it takes well over 200 impressions to have the same impact 80 impressions did just a few years ago. (And this doesn’t include any opt-in mobile phone advertising programs that are likely to be introduced in the future.)

Still, mobile billboards (if not consumer cars) does make sense for some advertisers. Although FreeCar Media estimates almost 70,000 other motorists and pedestrians will see the advertisement daily, most mobile billboards offer better reach along planned routes (and use much more conservative numbers). We’ve arranged some in the past; they are exceptionally well suited to targeted location/route advertising.

So how do you top this? If you want some ideas, visit Las Vegas where advertising wraps have reached new heights. EliteMedia, which specializes in outdoor advertising, has placed huge advertisements on several iconic hotels, including Mandalay Bay and the Luxor. You can see some of the recent wraps on their blog.

Seeing an ad cover an entire building seems fun, or in some cases, um, interesting. It also makes you wonder. If your niche blog doesn’t excite people, maybe you can consider how much the average residential garage door might be worth, a yard sign during peak political season, or perhaps spiffy ad wraps for frequent fliers.

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