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Webcasting Truth and Consequences

In the 1980s many of my medical device and pharmaceutical clients asked me to produce marketing video conferences live-via-satellite. These live events were “narrow cast” to pre-determined locations in many cities around the country. The defined audience was potential buyers of my clients’ products. The content for these programs was well-defined and presented. Audience members could interact with the presenters via phone lines.

These were very expensive programs to produce. Unless the cost of the program was +/- $100/participant there would not be a justifiable ROI. Nonetheless many of my clients insisted on producing a video conference because their competition was doing it. They had found a fill and needed it.

New webcast applications have become more reliable and easier to use. However, like some of the video conferences of the 1980’s many are simply not a worthy investment. Often, presenters do not consider four essential criteria that must be met if their live webcast is going to be effective and meet their desired goals and outcomes.

The criteria are:

  1. The information presented must be time-sensitive
  2. The program needs to presented to a large audience
  3. This audience must be geographically dispersed over a wide area
  4. The audience must have the opportunity to interact with the program presenters.

Beware of the downsides of webcasting. Live webcast users are locked into a viewing schedule that may be inconvenient. Would you watch a live webcast rather than attend a required senior management meeting? Not likely.

Very few webcasts take advantage of the powerful use of the video technology that is available to them. Short video segments called “roll-ins” presented during the live webcast can take the viewer to places they otherwise cannot get to and show them things that they otherwise cannot see. For example, what better way is there to demonstrate the mechanism of action of a drug-eluding stent than through the use of an anatomical animation?

While well-produced webcasts can be very powerful communications tools it is important to consider the alternatives if you want to successfully reach your audience. A short, well-produced downloadable video that can be viewed at anytime usually accomplishes a great deal more than a live webcast that is not well-produced or doesn’t meet the criteria listed above.

Take a dispassionate look at your communications goals and objectives, the real cost of reaching your audience, and the most effective use of ALL of the available communications technologies. Beware of the fill. You may not need it.

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