TVNewsCheck conducted a confidential survey last month of local TV station creative services directors and promotion managers. We’ve been revealing the results of that survey all this week on Market Share.
Some survey questions allowed the participants to add their comments and in those cases, we’ll provide an overview of the comments and when necessary, share some actual comments with you.
Yesterday, we found out what CSDs think is their biggest challenge, what element in a local news program is most important for attracting new viewers and that a majority rank research as just fair to non-existent.
Today, the value of marketing consultants, sweeps and some honest, and sometimes brutal, comments for news directors and VPs of marketing.
Marketing consultants are quite valuable to extremely valuable, said 35% of respondents. But the remainder characterized them as moderately valuable to not valuable, with a few saying they’ve never worked with one.
TV stations sometimes seem to have two personalities. Outside of the three major sweeps periods, local TV news operations seem normal, quietly providing well-rounded, worth-while, local news coverage every day.
Then during sweeps, stations seemingly turn into freak shows, and the marketers become like carnival barkers, bombarding the media with special reports promos, luring viewers to watch.
What do CSDs think about sweeps?
Of the 18 comments, only one thought they were important.
“For our diary market, sweeps is everything. We have to hit it as hard as possible.”
Three thought they took up too much time.
“The payoff is negligible compared to the effort.”
“Too much time dedicated to tricks that have no long-lasting benefit.”
“Think year-round” ’was the sentiment of 14 respondents.
“In reality the sweeps are every day.”
Here are two comments that I think nailed it when it comes to sweeps.
“We’ve got to get out of this mindset of pumping out stories that don’t ‘move the needle’ and then devoting too much time and effort understanding them internally and promoting them externally.”
“We’ve found since abandoning the traditional sweeps model and focusing on providing superior coverage that our ratings have increased. Our competition was a 50-year #1 until 3 years ago when we switched models. With both stations having limited reporting staffs, taking someone away to do a traditional TSR (Targeted Special Report) actually causes local news to go ignored, and viewers notice. We chose not to sacrifice daily news in favor of what inevitably was a fluff piece or a stretch that is oversold in promotion and under-delivered by news to our viewers. While they’re stretching out a boring topic over three days, we’re covering the news they’re missing.”
I have a saying: “News ratings aren’t won during sweeps, they are only measured then.”
It’s great to see that CSDs find their general managers and news directors helpful when it comes to marketing and promotion. If you work in a shop where this is not the case, your ultimate success depends on you finding a way to fix it.
Throughout the day today, look for new posts covering the next four questions, where we asked for CSDs comments. The questions provide CSDs with an opportunity to address the news directors, general managers and VPs of marketing on issues they face. These comments may be the most interesting, and insightful, so far.
The survey of creative services directors and promotion managers at TV stations was conducted the first week of June via email. The 169 who responded represent 18.5% of the 911 who received questionnaires.