In 1999, the Flower Promotion Organization (FPO) was created to end a 30-year trade war between U.S. and Colombian flower growers. Since then, with the help of major PR firms like Porter Novelli, the bi-national industry alliance has embarked on a strategic multi-million dollar campaign to raise consumer demand for cut flowers.
Naturally, there's no better time for the FPO to push their buds than Valentine's Day. So on February 13, a video news release (VNR) created by Medialink Worldwide and funded by the FPO was distributed to TV stations across the country. The two-minute fake news feature centered around the floral care advice of Dr. Bridget Behe, a professor of horticulture at Michigan State University. In addition to gorgeous shots of roses in full bloom, the VNR directs viewers to Behe's Flower MD website and a toll-free hotline, both sponsored by the FPO.
The video news release is nothing more than the old double spaced printed press release in video format. If it is truthful, relevant and compelling, why shouldn’t a news organization use it? The release in question uses a professor, not a CEO of a private business, and supplies information on the preservation of roses, something that might interest viewers on Valentines Day.
Some of these examples are troubling, but some seem perfectly legitimate PR.