Arment Dietrich

How the Government Screwed Up the Use of VNRs

By: Arment Dietrich | September 13, 2006 | 
32

I was having dinner on Monday night with some friends and mentioned the launch of this blog.  One friend got really excited and related a story about being on vacation and seeing, what was clearly a video news release (VNR) used by the news channel but not identified as such.  He told me that the woman “reporter” was talking about the pros of the mining community and her last name even was “Cavern”. 

Yes, a VNR distributed by some organization in favor of mining and they actually used a spokesperson to do the reporting and gave her a name that coincided with the story.

Unbelievable?  Yes!  True?  Unfortunately.

So much destructive spin fodder here!  I’m almost giddy.

Early last year, following a March 2005 New York Times report on the use by government of VNRs, White House spokesman (at the time) Scott McClellan was asked at a media briefing whether their use was “legal and legitimate…without disclaimers that they’re government productions, as long as they meet some standard of factual basis?”

He replied with, “First of all, we’re talking about informational news releases. And the Department of Justice has issued an opinion saying that as long as this is factual information about department or agency programs, it is perfectly appropriate.”

We all know how that ended — and it caused a huge stir within the public relations industry.

At FADS, we believe if you want TV stations to cover a news story, either invite them to shoot it themselves (even in Chicago, they’re willing to do that) or package b-roll and pitch the story to a producer via phone.  Let them package the story themselves, with their own reporters.  It will come across a lot more credible to your audiences and you won’t have to worry about SPONSORED or ADVERTORIAL stamped across the top of the story.

More on destructive VNRs this week.

Spin Sucks in Your Inbox

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32 Comments on "How the Government Screwed Up the Use of VNRs"

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Alex Parker
Alex Parker
10 years 12 days ago

That’s definitely one of the challenges that faces both the PR and new industry. What a farce that news organizations would neglect to identify VNRs (especially such self serving stories) and now turn the other cheek, swearing them off altogether. It’s up to smart, ethical PR people to carry the torch with campaigns that get the job done.

Joanie
Joanie
9 years 11 months ago

I just read some academic and trade articles on this. News people blame the “shifty” PR people, and the PR industry blames lazy journalists. Some say VNRs used as news stories are the product of understaffed newsrooms. Others say news consumers have a responsibility to become “media savvy” and discern between a VNR and hard news. It damages the level of trust between viewers and journalists, and between journalists and PR. Both relationships have to exist, so what’s the use of laying blame?

Arment Dietrich
9 years 11 months ago

I’m certainly not laying blame. I feel the same way about VNRs that I do about advertorials – I think they suck. What I would like to see is the PR industry become a little more inventive in terms of what can and can’t be sent to news stations. And I’d like the government and big corporations to quit pushing the envelope and play by the rules the rest of us play by.

kreativekonnect
kreativekonnect
4 years 10 months ago

@ginidietrich Unfortunately,it’s very unlikely for them to use your b-roll and package a story together themselves.More likely as a “kicker”

accuconference
accuconference
4 years 10 months ago

@ginidietrich Terrible? I suspect you’re being a little harsh on yourself. My 1st was an utter sales piece.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 10 months ago

@accuconference LOL! It’s pretty bad.

accuconference
accuconference
4 years 10 months ago

@ginidietrich Feel better: http://t.co/UEM8TZLi That was my first one. Please don’t hold it against me.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 10 months ago

@accuconference It’s not that bad! Some of that stuff is valuable to know

accuconference
accuconference
4 years 10 months ago

@ginidietrich 🙂 You’re kind. I like my style much more now.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 10 months ago

@accuconference Your style is definitely better. But I don’t think that first post was all that bad

lesmckeown
lesmckeown
4 years 10 months ago

@ginidietrich I spat out my coffee when I saw ‘5 comments’.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 10 months ago

@lesmckeown Right?! Five years ago I sucked.

lauraclick
lauraclick
4 years 10 months ago

@ginidietrich No, your first post is really NOT terrible. Promise. Mine, however, is: http://t.co/p0hGdCVO

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 10 months ago

@lauraclick That’s not terrible! AND…I’ve totally walked beans. I did a lot of ag PR in my early days

lauraclick
lauraclick
4 years 10 months ago

@ginidietrich NO! Say it ain’t so! You are the first person I’ve found that even knows what walking beans is! #impressed

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 10 months ago

@lauraclick So true. I spent eight months with growers. We were producing videos on spraying chemicals. I can tell you most weeds

lauraclick
lauraclick
4 years 10 months ago

@ginidietrich Wow. So impressed. You probably know more about it than me. I was just a kid who was forced to do it every summer! 😉 #respect

lauraclick
lauraclick
4 years 10 months ago

@ginidietrich BTW – what was the company that you worked with? Just curious. I’m guessing I’ve likely heard of it…

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 10 months ago

@lauraclick LOL! I’m pretty sure I never want to do it again

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 10 months ago

@lauraclick BASF was the client at the time. Also worked on the Bayer and Caterpillar accounts

lauraclick
lauraclick
4 years 10 months ago

@ginidietrich Yup! Definitely heard of them. Very cool to learn about this piece of your background, Gini!

lauraclick
lauraclick
4 years 10 months ago

@ginidietrich Um, me neither. Though, I guess my parents could still try to make me do it when I visit. Sure hope not!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 10 months ago

@lauraclick BTW. I think your husband’s new biz cards are super cool.

lauraclick
lauraclick
4 years 10 months ago

@ginidietrich Thanks so much! We’re really excited. 🙂

NEMultimedia
NEMultimedia
4 years 10 months ago

@lauraclick @ginidietrich I think I managed to destroy all evidence of my first blog posts for New England Multimedia. Gah, I hope!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 10 months ago

@NEMultimedia LOL!!

NEMultimedia
NEMultimedia
4 years 10 months ago

@ginidietrich Totally an accident, too…I had no clue what I was doing! Sometimes it pays to be ignorant. 😉

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 10 months ago

@NEMultimedia LOL! Ignorance is bliss…or so they say.

NEMultimedia
NEMultimedia
4 years 10 months ago

@lauraclick @ginidietrich We launched blog under different name, with links to NEM’s website. Think I wrote under name “admin,” too!

lauraclick
lauraclick
4 years 10 months ago

@NEMultimedia @ginidietrich Yeah, that post was from my former blog. (http://t.co/MyE71ewG). I opted to keep them on my current site.

lauraclick
lauraclick
4 years 10 months ago

@ginidietrich This was my first post on my site as it is now, it’s not much better: http://t.co/8gRkiBjy

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