Tag Archives: Dax Dobbs

How Stations Use News Topicals On Facebook

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.

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Creativity, Flexibility Drive Best News Topicals

This is Part 4 of our five-part series, Building Viewership with News Topicals. Read Part 3 here.

News topicals can take many forms.

Some creative services directors and topical writer/producers say recording the main news anchor sitting behind the anchor desk works best for their station.

Others see value in shooting their news anchor in the newsroom, cinéma vérité style.
And other stations try to feature real people and sound bites, along with reporter teases from the field.

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Finding And Keeping News Topical Writer/Producers

This is Part 3 of our five-part series Building Viewership with News Topicals. Read Part 2 here.

Creative services directors are finding it harder and harder to find good news topical writer/producers.

Some grow their own, plucking them right out of college, perhaps as interns, and train them. Others look internally, finding someone already at the station who wants to be creative.

With bigger salaries to offer, CSDs in bigger markets have the ability to recruit from smaller markets, but that presents challenges, too.

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What It Takes To Create Quality News Topicals

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.

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Building Viewership With News Topicals, Part 1

Tonight at 11, there’s a big change in the weather forecast.

That’s one of the better 4-second news topicals you can write.

Granted, not one you can use every night, only when conditions warrant, yet weather is the main reason people watch local news, and a ‘change’ in the forecast creates a thirst for news.

News topicals, those ubiquitous promos embedded in programming enticing viewers to watch the next newscast, have been a staple of local TV news since forever.

Effective topical news promotion can lead to sampling, and during sweeps, possibly into ratings.

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KVUE Morning Promos Document Viewers’ Routines

KVUE_2013_LogoI’m guessing that when Dax Dobbs outlined the shooting schedule to the promotion/production staff for the new morning news campaign for KVUE, there was some moaning from the staff at the Tegna ABC affiliate in Austin, Texas.

I don’t know exactly what time they all had to be on location ready to shoot, but it’s safe to say it was early in the morning, way early in the morning, like before-dawn early.

Dax Dobbs

Dax Dobbs

“A lot of the credit for these goes to Dax Dobbs, our promotion manager here,” said Mark Willenborg, KVUE’s creative services director.

Mark Willenborg

Mark Willenborg

“We threw the challenge out to him and the team to do something breakthrough.”

What Dobbs and his team proposed was to find some KVUE morning news viewers and be at their house as they woke up and turned on the light to begin their day.

Before her morning run, Zoe turns the light on each day with #teamdaybreak. How about you?

Posted by KVUE on Monday, December 21, 2015

“We really wanted to show the city of Austin waking up and how we’re a part of the Austin morning routine,” said Willenborg.

Willenborg said Dobbs and the team found the people through the station’s Facebook page, and others were fans the morning news team knew would be good.

“We wanted to make sure we didn’t fake any of this. These are mini-docs on these people, this person’s life in the morning.”

According to Willenborg, the morning news ratings in Austin is a horse race, down the wire every day.

“KVUE is a strong competitor in that time slot. We fluctuate between No. 1 and 2. One thing that’s in our favor over the other guys is our team. They’re genuine, and viewers like them.”

Willenborg says they were looking for a different approach that would turn the camera the other way, and would appeal to their target demo, women between 25 and 54.

“I know if we did a spot that talked about weather on the 10s, or traffic, no one would be sitting around talking about it. We’re generating conversation with these pieces. We’ve gotten great response to these.”

Daybreak quote