2008 PR News Platinum PR Issue Winner: Video Program

The winners and honorable mentions in this year's PR news Platinum PR awards issue exemplify the most innovative approaches to redefining traditional PR with anything-but- traditional strategies. From a marketing communications effort that united a country over the search for the stars of a 1950s TV commercial to an event that landed a flock of pink flamingos around the windy city, the following winner confirms that the PR profession has indeed stepped out from the shadows to take a front-and-center role in delivering business results to their own organizations, and to their clients. Below is the winner of the 2008 PR News Platinum PR award for video program.

Mercury Multimedia & VituallyOpenHouse.com


In May 2007, VirtuallyOpenHouse.com realized it needed to expand its visibility to St. Louis home buyers and, more specifically, their realtors, as the 11,000-plus area real estate agents had a number of web options for showing their clients home listings online.

Rolling out the Blueprints

Research played a starring role in developing the program's strategy. Partnering with mercury multimedia, the team analyzed other real estate Web sites and television shows to identify ways in which VirtuallyOpenHouse.com could differentiate itself and reach audiences via these channels. Analysis revealed there was a lack of dynamic visual information available both on tv and online that appealed to a local audience. Mercury filled the void by combining the best of both worlds--video tours narrated by a professional tv personality to air on television, and searchable video tours online for home buyers and realtors.

Home Inspection

But launching a TV program that also had a video online component was difficult to do with a small budget. With limited initial public awareness of VirtuallyOpenHouse.com, Mercury had to generate interest in the TVv program before it existed.

To accomplish this, the team reached out to key St. Louis realtors, soliciting their participation in the launch of the TV show; scripting, shooting and editing of more than 30 properties for tv; and developing press materials.

Closing the Deal

The launch of Virtually Open House resulted in over 800,000 consumer impressions in media outlets from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to the Jefferson County Journal. The print coverage triggered a spike in traffic at VirtuallyOpenHouse.com, with hundreds of hits to the Web site within hours of the release of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article. Plus, as a result of the launch, Virtually Open House averaged 3.0 Nielsen ratings for the entire fall 2007-08 season.

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