Publicity: New Birthright of the Internet Age

It had to come to this, the real killer… er, birthing app. (Trumpets) Announcing the birth (several months belatedly) of BabyPressConference.com, a web site that represents an intriguing advance in the field of online streaming publicity, most cleverly integrated with e-commerce opportunities galore.

Through the magic of the web, parents-to-be can now easily keep far-flung family members and friends apprised of developments leading up to the momentous day via this free service. Then, when the happy moment arrives, the new parents conduct baby’s debut press conference as a streaming webcast to all Internet-enabled members of the family tree, right from the hospital’s Net center (nearly 50 hospitals participate to date).

It’s certainly an inspired concept. In fact, BabyPressConference.com (NYC) may forever change the course of public relations as newborns across our information soaked nation get their first taste of the limelight (or key light) at birth. According to their press release, BabyPressConference.com is the “first site to move beyond still photos by using the latest streaming audio and video technology to enable viewers to see and hear both the parents and their newborn.”

Here’s how it works. Expectant parents register at their participating hospital. They create email lists of their near and dear (read marketing tool). After the baby is born, a netcast is scheduled. Invited guests receive a password and free downloadable software. Guests communicate with parents by typing questions, then hear and see the responses.

Think of the ramifications. BabyPressConference.com President and CEO Lee H. Perlman obviously has since he raised $6.5 million and has attracted investors including Primedia, owner of the American Baby Group and Toys “R” Us.

All throughout pregnancy, there are opportunities to shop right onsite for the dear little one and his or her folks. The BabyPressConference online store offers free content from American Baby Group and a gift registry through Babies “R” Us for complete womb to birth gift coverage, seemingly a win-win-win for all participants.

As an account, BabyPressConference.com is a publicist’s dream. Since its March launch, it has been featured (see the online pressroom) in 150 news broadcasts and more than 40 newspapers and magazines, reaching an audience of 18.5 million.

But there are several onsite PR oversights. While the BabyPressConference.com web site is cleanly designed and well organized, the pressroom link is hidden in an addendum box at the bottom of the home page. Once inside the room, interested parties (read journalists) can send email to the strangely anonymous press@babypressconference.com. Such a high-touch concept deserves a more personal approach. Why not include a real name behind the baby PR function? After all, isn’t media relations a person-to-person sport?

Then the pressroom lists the names of the print and broadcast media which have graciously covered BabyPressConference.com, but omits headlines or links to the stories themselves. Why not be more forthcoming with what can only be good news? Shall we assume the PR and marketing staff are too busy enlisting hospitals to stream their own PR? But, then a bragging list does not leverage editorial credibility (PR 101), or provide more details to personalize the story or reinforce BabyPressConference.com’s benefits to hospitals.

Let’s let our minds roam free and think of the ramifications of the BabyPressConference.com. concept. Every family photo-op can now be transformed into a digitized streaming media fest. By the time a 21st century Internet Age kid celebrates his or her fifth birthday, they will have starred in dozens on online press events, commemorating firsts, debuts at preschool, dance or karate class, publicity stunts – even insider interviews. What a tremendous opportunity for a new cottage industry of PR practitioners specializing in baby media training, special events media optimization, web site relations, link management and so on.

As today’s baby “I” (Internet) generation turns an increasingly professionally mediagenic face to the world (growing up “covered” in what may approach a Truman Show mold), will this development provide an opportunity for communications professionals, or will everyone handle their own account from kindergarten?

Whatever the case, over the years, this accumulation of digitized personal reality programming will become the archival foundation of one’s Internet life story, preserved on a server in cyberspace, password protected for the enjoyment of one’s near and dear everywhere, anytime. Oh, brave new world.

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