The NBC affiliate in Lancaster, Pa., has been bringing people together and listening to their concerns about things going on in their community for the past decade. The WGAL Town Meetings are organized by the station and often include media partners like radio stations and/or newspapers.
“No subject is off limits and the attendees control the discussion,” said John Baldwin, WGAL’s creative services director.
Baldwin says he attends all of the meetings along with the station’s general manager and news director.
The meetings have a relaxed atmosphere and help position WGAL as the “open door station” says Baldwin. “It shows we’re open to listening to viewers’ feedback, story ideas, criticisms and concerns,” he adds, “and most importantly, taking action on those we feel are actionable.”
Baldwin says the town meetings reinforce the station’s “Coverage You Can Count On” positioning statement as well as enhance its brand as “involved in the community.”
Baldwin relates the story of his general manager being approached by a viewer who said how much she appreciated the Town Meetings. When he asked her which one she attended, she said, “Oh, I’ve never had the chance to go to one. I just see them advertised on the air, and see your news coverage of them that shows some of the comments made that evening. I just think it’s a great idea that you are doing it, and wanted you to know that I appreciated the effort very much.”
The meetings are scheduled from May through November and WGAL is lining up its 2014 series right now.