This is the final part of our five-part series, Building Viewership with News Topicals. Read Part 4 here.
Across the country, millions of people watch the entertainment programming TV stations provide during the day and at night. So it makes sense for stations to promote their newscasts topically within all that programming in the hopes viewers will stay and watch the next newscast.
For years, this was the only means stations had to recruit news viewers with the news of the day, unless stations bought time on other media, like radio, print or cable.
Then came Facebook.
Facebook provides stations with another — and much more mobile — screen to reach potential news viewers.
This is Part 2 of a five-part series, Building Viewership with News Topicals. Read Part 1 here.
Being a news topical writer/producer is one of the toughest jobs in local TV news marketing.
And to do that job well, the experts say, you need to have a passion for journalism, a thorough knowledge of what news is covering in the newscast, the ability to recognize what stories will resonate with viewers, and the confidence to promote those stories even if they’re not the news department’s top stories.
Slow down, keep your eyes open and STOP for those school buses.
If you’re not already seeing little ones standing by the side of the road waiting for their school bus, it won’t be long until you are.
Here are a couple back-to-school promos that I think are memorable and original.
First, creating high-concept spots using talent is challenging. Finding the right talent is key, but with the new low-cost, high-quality cameras many stations are using that give a Hollywood film look to every promo, the spots can look terrific.
You really have to think about the direction, continuity, the blocking and then the editing, before you shoot.
Here are two spots that are high-concept using talent that work really well.
The first is from WXYZ, the Scripps ABC affiliate in Detroit.
“I wanted to pass along a promo our team here at WXYZ produced that I feel is a pretty original idea for a back-to-school spot,” said Phil Wrobel, WXYZ’s creative services director.
I agree, totally original.
“Our concept was to stay true to our brand and create something memorable.”
I agree, very memorable, it sticks with you. Great concept and very well executed.
“We also wanted to leave viewers feeling good about our station and our morning team. I think we accomplished something special with this one and the little girl in the spot is absolutely adorable!”
Adorable, yes, I agree.
“I hope you enjoy it as much as we did producing it!” said Wrobel.
KTVT’s creative services director, David Hershey, knows a good promo when he sees it, and he’s up front about giving credit where credit is due.
So Hershey was quick to let us know that his latest weather promo for KTVT’s chief meteorologist Larry Mowry was inspired by a spot done by WCBS for its chief meteorologist.
KTVT is the CBS O&O in Dallas while WCBS is the CBS O&O in New York.
“I thought the country feeling would resonate well with our viewers,” Hershey says, “because they live in the greatest state in the country, Texas.”
Hershey says the music was provided by Frank Gari Communications, now owned by Warner Chappell Music, a company that had supplied KTVT’s news music in the past.
Hershey was the photographer of 95% of the spot, and said it premiered during the Academy of Country Music Awards program this past Sunday on CBS, which, incidentally, was broadcast live from AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
Not surprisingly, KTVT had the highest ratings in the country for the awards show this year.
Tracy Rowlett, a fixture on local TV news in the Dallas market for 34 years, came out of retirement for a day to talk about his favorite news anchor now that he’s ‘just a news viewer’.
“The spot was totally ad-libbed, no script,” said Rowlett.
Rowlett says the new spot for KTVT, the CBS affiliate in Dallas, was shot in an intimate setting at the station by creative services director David Hershey. According to Rowlett, Hershey asked him some questions and the spot emerged from his answers.
Rowlett was the main news anchor on WFAA, the Dallas ABC affiliate, from 1974 until he jumped to KTVT in 1999. Rowlett retired from KTVT in 2008.
“Karen Borta and I co-anchored the news on KTVT for 9 years”, said Rowlett.
Rowlett says he likes “the honest sense and presence to the spot”.
Hershey says he knew that Rowlett and Borta remained close.
“They have a mutual respect for each other,” said Hershey.
“I knew they kept in touch, and I thought there’s not a better person to talk about Karen Borta than Tracy Rowlett.”
Hershey says the spot was easy to do.
“Honest spots are the easiest to put together. When you use a lot of special effects, it’s like you’re trying to gloss over something. I wanted to do a spot that speaks for itself.”
When I asked Rowlett if he had any advice for local TV news marketers, he said, “sometimes news promo spots are over-produced. Keep the spots informative and talk directly to viewers and don’t always make the spots a sell job.”
Something to consider from a 34-year TV news veteran.