"Tell me about your spa..." You've heard that before, when someone calls to ask about reservations. But what are they really asking? They're asking if they'll fit in, if they'll be happy with your facility, if your services and staff are high quality. You can tell them whatever they'd like to hear. However, if you show them, with a compelling video "business story" that conveys the essence of your spa, they will book that reservation.

In addition to having this type of video as part of your sales and marketing arsenal, I'd like to suggest an equally effective type of promotional video: B-roll. At last year's iSPA conference, NBC's Peter Greenberg confirmed that a good, solid B-roll videotape is an essential publicity tool for any spa.

"B-roll" is actually an archaic film industry term, meaning "background footage, usually without sound or story." Today, B-roll serves either as supplement to a Video News Release ("VNR," to your public relations/publicity consultant), or as standalone video from which newsroom producers can create their own story.

This morning, I saw a beautiful destination spa profiled on CNN as a Travel and Leisure segment — and yes, CNN used lovely B-roll footage of the picture-perfect mountain resort spa. If you know your charming boutique spa could make a good local TV news story — or possibly deserve national coverage, as on CNN — sending some well-shot, attractive B-roll footage along with your press release is a bare minimum, and certainly what reporters and producers will expect.

And it's not beyond your budgetary reach, either. Recent innovations in video and editing equipment makes video production far less expensive than it was even a few years ago. You can now get a superb, high quality video product for $8,000 to $13,000 on average, depending on complexity: graphics, effects, or animation, much less for simple, "straight" B-roll with minimal editing.

B-roll footage and VNR's provide a win/win opportunity for both the spa owners and television producers. Producers appreciate having the footage and copy delivered to them, saving them time and money by not having to assign a camera crew and reporter. Spa owners are able to shape the story by their choice of B-roll video images and the messages in the accompanying script, thereby retaining a great measure of creative control over the final story.

Remember, producers are attracted first and foremost to interesting visuals. If you can make it easy for them to assemble your B-roll footage and well-written suggested narration into a story you'll have a better chance of being part of a news broadcast. It is essential that you provide a professional format tape — digital Betacam or better — VHS or "homeowner" videotapes are useless for broadcasters.

A recent survey of U.S. television news stations showed that 82 percent of them intend to use the same or more health and wellness-oriented VNR's and B-roll than a year ago. 71 percent of stations polled are airing the same or more health-focused coverage than a year ago.

Think of story pitches featuring the benefits of your spa business. Given the current level of interest in alternative medicine, wellness, rejuvenation, self-improvement, and spas — now is the time to put your best foot forward using video to promote your spa business.

Pitch Hut is an award-winning creative marketing communications firm that specializes in video production, promotions, and publicity for small/medium businesses and entrepreneurs. We focus on telling business stories in a crisp, compelling manner, to drive sales to the bottom line. Contact us at or 415.444.0383.