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Video News Release Guide

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A video news release (VNR) is the television version of the printed press release, translating the printed word into the language of moving pictures. It is distributed via satellite to television stations nationwide.

VNR: A VNR includes video of the product which is edited to make it easy for TV news producers to air the video on newscasts and slates which are easy-to-read full-screen graphics that provide the details of the recall. It also can include short "sound bites" with company representatives and/or CPSC. The video should not include any dissolves or fancy effects, just straightforward footage from which television stations can edit. CPSC's suggested VNR length is 5 to 7 1/2 minutes. This type of VNR is also called "bites and b-roll."

Hire a professional production company to produce, edit, and distribute your VNR. CPSC's Office of Communications can provide suggestions for production companies and show samples of their work. Public Affairs also will help every step of the way as the video is produced.


Content basics

Television journalists are in the business of presenting news with moving pictures; a VNR must meet that need. VNR scripts are written and negotiated like press releases and should closely follow the negotiated written press release. They also must go through the same CPSC clearance process as press releases.

Buying satellite time - The production company should purchase two 30-minute windows of C-band satellite time to "broadcast" the VNR to the media. On the agree-upon release date(s), the entire VNR will be fed on a continuous loop each half-hour, to ensure that stations have access to the feeds. CPSC has had great success with stations using its VNRs when feed times were scheduled at 4:30 a.m. ET and again 2 p.m. ET, both on the same day. But firms may want to consider scheduling the feeds on consecutive days, the first at around 2 p.m. ET and the second the next day at around 10 a.m. ET.

When the production company purchases satellite time, it will receive "coordinates." Satellite coordinates include feed date, time, satellite name and transponder numbers, downlink frequency, and audio channels - all essential information for TV producers. Always purchase time on C-Band satellites - it's easiest for most stations to use.

Advance notification of the VNR's satellite feed: On the day of the satellite feed, the company should send out a media alert, which includes very general information about the content of the story and the satellite coordinates, to broadcast media. In addition, the production company should call targeted stations nationwide to pitch the story. Avoid "stepping on your story" by talking to the media the day before a feed, or leaking the story to the press (even local press).

Post the VNR on social media sites that your firm utilizes, including YouTube and Facebook.

Usage monitoring: To get an estimate of how many people saw your VNR, make sure your distributor utilizes electronic tracking services such as Nielsen, SIGMA, VMS or others. Your usage reports, which must be submitted to CPSC, should contain detailed information by market, station, affiliation, time and date or airing, length of confirmed video usage, and estimated audience by station and grand totals for potential audience. The firm should provide you and CPSC with monitoring updates in the days following the VNR airing and a final report 90 days after the VNR aired.

Video Production Company should:

  • Deliver 5 Beta SP & 5 DVD dubs to CPSC before issuance of pr/vnr
  • pitch story to broadcast media utilizing CPSC-approved media advisory 
  • contract with monitoring service to report how many stations aired the VNR and the estimated audience, etc.

Last Updated: July 2011

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