Valarie D'Elia: Frequent Flying Flack

NY travel expert stars in corporate VNRs, then smuggles them into her own TV reports

Submitted by Daniel Price on
Clients: Sandals Resorts, Viking River Cruises, Air Tahiti Nui
Release Date: February 2005
Aired By: 1 station
Disclosed By: No stations

Valarie D'Elia certainly gets around. As a travel commentator, she's appeared on the Today Show, the Early Show, CNBC, Fox News and of course the Travel Channel. She's also a keynote speaker at the New York Times Travel Show and hosts a weekly program on both WOR Radio and the New York One cable network.

But when it comes to vacation advice, D'Elia doesn't exactly pack her own bags. Her seemingly impartial recommendations are dictated by multi-layered endorsement deals with major travel and leisure companies.

Case in point: in February 2006, D S Simon Productions released a Valentine-themed video news release (VNR) on the best romantic getaways. The 1-minute 47-second mock news report was jointly-funded by Sandals Resorts, Viking River Cruises, and Air Tahiti Nui. Not surprisingly, the story was little more than a promotional showcase for all three clients. Scattered throughout the VNR was 36 seconds of promotional soundbites from D'Elia.

"If you don't have enough money for a six-day jaunt," said D'Elia, "maybe you want to splurge on a two-day getaway."

On February 6, the VNR appeared on NY1, the 24-hour cable news network owned by Time Warner. The reporter: Valarie D'Elia. In her weekly "Travel With Val" segment, D'Elia adapted the VNR into a live studio report, replacing the audio narrative of D S Simon publicist Tommy Mann, changing the order of client plugs, and removing her own recorded soundbites. Edited into the feature was online and phone contact information to learn more about Sandals Resorts, Viking River Cruises and Air Tahiti Nui.

At no point during the broadcast did D'Elia or NY1 anchor Lewis Dodley reveal that the entire story was funded and furnished by the very three companies being profiled, or that D'Elia was a paid participant in the promotional materials of those same companies. One can only assume that D'Elia isn't too concerned about hiding her conflict of interest, since she offers VNR services on her own website.

View the original VNR, as well as the NY1 travel report featuring Valarie D'Elia, below.

Original Client VNR NY1 Travel With Val feature
Created by D S Simon Productions February 6, 2006
Voiced by publicist Presented by D'Elia