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.
Not many of us could function on a high level professionally without our cell phone.
And I would imagine it would be especially difficult for a local TV reporter.
No calls from the assignment desk or news director, no GPS to find your way to the story, no Google search, no texts, no Facebook Lives to record and post, no cell phone calls as you’re covering a story.
So what do you do if your news director challenges you to unplug, to go without your cell phone for a week?
You go old school.
Paper maps, a pager, a Go Pro camera, a pocket full of change in case you can find a pay phone, and ask to use land lines (or as the kids call them, old people’s phones).
“We got to thinking that people are literally LOST without cell phones these days” said Joany D’Agostino, creative services director at WDBJ, Gray’s CBS affiliate in Roanoke, Va.
Logan Sherrill holding his pager
“So, in addition to having the consumer angle from experts, we’ll get to witness anchor Logan Sherrill take one for the team! We’ll follow his every move. Half social experiment, half consumer report.”
So how’s Sherrill doing? I paged him to ask.
He called me back from a land line at a hair salon.
“This week, it’s five full days of being an anchor and reporter with no cell phone,” said Sherrill.
And what function of his cell phone does Sherrill miss the most?
“GPS, without a doubt.”
Click here to see how Sherrill is doing without his phone.
Roanoke is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains in southwest Virginia, earning itself the nickname “Star City of the South” by being the recreational, cultural and business hub of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
It’s a gorgeous area and the people are friendly. It’s the sort of place big-city folks would wax on about and idealize, before realizing it has problems just like everywhere else.
USA Travel named Roanoke as one of the 10 Best Bike-Friendly Cities in the U.S. and Parenting Magazine said it’s one of the 10 best places to raise a family.
The median home value in Roanoke is $143,000 and the average monthly rent for apartments in the city is $700-$800.
WSLS is the NBC affiliate in Roanoke owned by Media General. Heath Oldham is the station’s marketing director and he wanted to share a “series of promos we produced promoting ‘back to school’ and our [morning] newscasts.”
“The plan was to launch a big campaign for the Olympics. For NBC stations, many times your a.m. news is the only newscast in pattern. Live games can run long for evening news and late news runs REALLY late.
“We were fortunate to have these large audiences during the back-to-school time in this market. It’s that big reset button for so many parents.”
“So our team here at WSLS 10 put our heads together. Nearly every advertiser would more than likely have some sort of Olympic-themed campaign — credit cards companies, dealerships, etc. I wanted us to zig when others zagged during the Olympics.”
“The idea was to keep everything simple, and create clean and clear messages directly talking to the viewer. I also wanted to make sure we wrap it back to social, to help move messages along through the morning and help us own coverage. Out came the idea in the link below.”
“We created a series of :15s and bookended breaks during the Olympics.”
In case you didn’t know, I’m looking for your holiday promos.
Yes, that’s right, it’s that magical time of year, the November sweeps are over and that festive time is just ahead. You can read all about it here.
Here’s an example sent in by Jay Prater, executive producer at WFXR, Nexstar’s Fox affiliate in Roanoke, Va.
“I wanted to share this one from Roanoke,” says Prater.
“Our morning anchors Bob Grebe, Tara Wheeler and 10p.m. News’ Becky Freemal lighting it up!”
So what is your station doing on-air to share the holiday spirit?
Send me your station holiday spots from any year to share by e-mailing me the online link or a small file version I can post online. Got a question or want to brainstorm? Contact me at 817-578-6324 or [email protected].