Paul Holmes 10 May 2001 // 11:00PM GMT
This weekly series of VNRs was developed for Motorola as an image-positioning tool for their products and services. The Motorola “Technology Explained” series promotes Motorola technology and personnel in a positive and non-commercial way. VNRs draw from real-life situations, and show how technology can resolve problems or aid people in everyday life. These VNRs aim to educate and enlighten by simplifying technology for the consumer.
The challenge for the Medialink-CTV and Motorola team is to depict the company’s products on a weekly basis without making them too commercial. Motorola’s employees were positioned as experts in their particular field, which helped raise brand awareness, but complicate the integrity of an “unbiased” news story. This challenged our team to think creatively and “out-of-the-box” for VNR topics, storylines, and shooting scripts.
RESEARCH, PLANNING, AND OBJECTIVES:
A survey of television news outlets returned great interest in the subject matter and a desire to see the video product. There was great doubt however, that the features could be presented in a non-commercial manner.
The Medialink team brainstormed ideas for story lines and took many of them from their own personal lives:
- “How do I get my cell phone battery to last longer?”
- “How can two-way radios make family events safer?”
- “How does accessing the Internet from my cell phone make life easier?”
It was through this planning stage at our goals became evident:
- Create stories that answer common questions or show technology applied in creative ways
- Build relevance for each product and inspire the viewer to seek out and purchase the product.
- Position Motorola and their employees as leaders of their industry
The foundation behind the VNR series was to create scenarios and circumstances that Motorola products might be used in. To set these pieces apart from other industry news, the story lines had to be creative and noteworthy.
Additionally, we aimed to portray the product makers as innovators who are working for the public to create the best communication tools available. An example of such a scenario is a summer camp group at an amusement park. Counselors split up with different age groups to go on different age appropriate rides. The best way for everyone to keep in touch throughout the day is, two-way radios (Motorola Radios). Sound bites included from Motorola employees reinforce Motorola’s market-leader position and reinforced brand image. Positive testimonials from the camp counselors made the piece more believable and creditable without being too commercial.
We first isolated several Motorola products and identified their targeted age groups. We then worked tirelessly to create scenarios where the products could be used. A distribution agreement was signed with CBS, FOX, and ABC, to distribute the Motorola “Technology Explained” stories to their affiliates via their own proprietary affiliate distribution system.
The technology reporters at all of the affiliated stations were targeted and pitched the stories feeding. The reporters also gave input about future stories in production. The individual VNRs were part of a larger series – a series that could be used on a regular basis for content and footage. This consistency was appealing to reporters and producers who were usually strapped for time and money with little or no resources for this type of technology footage.
Tuesdays were elected as the distribution day, and our media relations staff has promoted it throughout the TV News industry as “Technology Tuesdays.”
RESULTS AND EVALUATION:
The Motorola Technology Explained segments succeeded well beyond our most ambitious expectations. Story usage ranges between 6 to 12 million per story. Many stations call and request materials well before the feed date, so they can promote and tease the upcoming story. We are regularly featured in most prime time newscasts across the country from New York to Los Angeles.
Almost every top ten market station has run at least one Motorola story. Product recognition has been actively tracked back to the “Technology Explained” VNR series. Additionally the stories are regular features on the Nationally Syndicated programs "First Business" and "Money Talks".
The stories are also available on Medialink’s Internet portal Newstream (www.newstream.com), where the “Technology Explained” stories represented seven of the top-ten most accessed Internet news stories, garnered by journalists in 2000.