By Barney Brown, Director, WorkCast

Organisations are starting to seek new ways to creatively use PR in harmony with the latest social media tools. By this means they can augment traditional PR methodologies and reach broader stakeholder and influencer audiences more frequently and effectively.

One of the fastest growing tools sets to epitomise this new dawn in Public Relations is Webcasting. This is fast being recognised as the ideal tool to disseminate video PR launch and announcement communications in a highly efficient, highly branded and interactive way. These communications can now be distributed through many different but often integrated channels including email, social media sites, websites and the online media meaning a much wider audience can be reached both from a readership and geographical perspective.

As corporate webcasting now allows for presentations to be Live, Scheduled or On Demand, the content can also be accessed either at the time of launch or subsequently at the convenience of the viewer. Better still, it also allows the organisation to interact with its audience through questions, polls and surveys during the presentation. This has an enormous benefit to the organisations as it allows organisations to get tangible feedback as to the sentiment or opinion around the PR piece. More importantly it allows organisations to better tailor messages to the needs of particular media (e.g. reseller journalists/ vertical sector journalists) and for journalist’s questions to be received and answered promptly in a more tailored way.

Certainly as word of mouth of the advantages of Webcasting as a PR tool spreads, demand seems to be increasing rapidly, “Traditionally the highest demand for Webcasting came consistently from sales based initiatives” says Barney Brown, Commercial Director at WorkCast “.... however recently, the market had extended to include a whole new raft of PR application requests. All told, we have seen a 300% increase in the number of requests for Webcast services that support PR initiatives in the last 6 months” This demand is both from agencies and internal communications management.”

There are many examples of how Webcasting can be used to support PR activities.

Typically webcasting has been used to support the following stakeholder communication activities

1. Investor Relations

a. Financial Results

b. Merger and Acquisition Statements

2. Internal PR: Employee Communications

a. Organisational Announcements

b. Performance Announcements

3. Product Launches

a. New Product

b. Promotion

4. Customer Case Studies and Testimonials

One good example of Webcast PR is the Ford Kinetic product launch

Ford used webcasting to launch a new product in their Econetic range. They used a pre-recorded panel discussion to launch via a scheduled webcast where registrants were able to register to attend the webcast and then were able to ask questions live of the panel. Typically, this PR piece would have been managed as an in person event. Due to the interactivity of webcasting service they were able to launch this piece to a wider geographical audience leading to a 300% increase in typical attendance to this type of event. They have also made the piece available On Demand which has led to a further 200% increase in attendance.

An example of internal PR and Employee Communications is found at Historic Scotland.

Historic Scotland recently used webcasting as a mechanism of announcing some significant structural changes to their Organisation. They used a live webcast of the CEO as mechanism to deliver the announcements due to the dispersed nature of their workforce and the requirement to engage the workforce interactively in the discussion. They were able to field and answer live questions from staff on the topics discussed. The Corporate Communications team were also able to track exactly the percentage of staff who had watched the announcement live and also On Demand if they were unable to attend the live webcast. Feedback on the communication mechanism was highly favourable as the staff felt more engaged.

Increasingly, the marketing teams in organisations are looking to integrate communications far more closely across multiple digital channels such as the web site, social media sites, PR wire engines etc.

Webcasting significantly benefits the PR process as the content resides in one location. In other words, the webcast channel and all the other communications can pull or push people to view this single source of content. Thus, whilst you can push people to the webcast content from emails, twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs, website, telesales, PR engines etc., you can track the viewing activity and engagement in the piece with one single management view. This gives an in-depth holistic understanding of the integrated campaign.

This has many advantages in the world or analytics and SEO. Webcasting in fact provides a new and powerful mechanism for boosting SEO significantly. It has been shown that a well indexed webcast is 20x more likely to rank more highly on search engines than a static based piece of content.

The world of PR has changed with social media. Now it will change further, as Webcasting is the tools that pulls all the individual; elements of a launch or promotional announcement together.

Whilst the content of the story still needs to be strong and relevant, webcasting has changed the way that our audience can consume information and can change the way that we can interact with our press and media audiences albeit pre, during or post the release. Webcasting gives us true metrics and analytics on the performance of any particular piece and is not just video on you tube or on a website, this is a truly integrated platform to build around your brand for all PR communication activities.

The days of the physical attendance press conference to launch a product or to make an announcement could well be numbered.

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