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.
When a TV station wants to add new entertainment fare to its daytime lineup, most go the syndicated programming route. The costs are known, the promos are fed every day, and there’s usually a track record of expected performance levels. It’s turnkey.
And daytime television isn’t exactly a revenue generator. So you know what you’re going to get; the risk is low and you’ll take whatever rewards come with it.
Some stations fill the programing holes with local news, especially in those time periods that lead-in to already scheduled newscasts. The talent is there, content is available and the necessary production capabilities are ready to use.
Then there are a few brave stations that opt to go it alone. Create their own local entertainment show. From scratch.
Consider the risks. Hire new talent to host the show. Build or reconfigure existing studio space to produce the show. Book guests. Create new promos for the show. The list goes on and on. The investment is daunting for a station to carry alone, and the rewards, well, are in the eye of the beholder.
WSMV, Meredith’s NBC affiliate in Nashville, is banking on the city’s country music popularity to carry its new morning entertainment show, Today in Nashville, which launches this morning at 11.
Today in Nashville will air live following the fourth hour of NBC’s The Today Show.
“Nashville has needed a locally produced show that takes viewers inside the music scene and highlights our community,” said Doreen Wade, WSMV’s general manager.
While every TV market is unique in terms of how the stations’ news operation compare and match up against each other, there are similar challenges that most nearly every station faces at one time or another.
For example, the introduction of a new news anchor to your team.
How you market this is critical to getting viewers to watch or sample the anchor from the beginning.
The biggest mistake stations make is what I call “anticipointment.” In marketing a new news anchor, they create a level of expectation that’s hard to deliver.
So much so that viewers’ anticipation turns into disappointment.
Early in my career, I was taught the importance of what was called ID/recognition. The name, the face, the place.
A “Q” score measures familiarity and appeal of, in this case, a news talent. I know him or her and I like him or her.
Knowing the new news anchor’s name is key from the very beginning. They can’t like you if they don’t know who you are.
WCNC, the NBC affiliate in Charlotte, N.C., owned by Tegna (formerly Gannett), had a new news anchor to introduce to the viewers whose name was a bit of a tongue-twister, Fred Shropshire.
Years ago, the thought might have been to change Fred’s last name to something easier to pronounce and remember. These days, not so much.
Here’s how KTVU, the Fox affiliate in San Francisco, used a talent’s unusual name to great advantage.
WCNC realized that Shropshire’s difficult-to-pronounce name might be an asset to getting people to remember the name.
“He has a unique and hard name to pronounce,” says Deborah Collura, WCNC’s general manager, “so we went out to see if people could pronounce his name.”
But WCNC wanted to do more than get his name out there.
“We wanted to show what kind of man he is,” says Luanne Stuart, WCNC’s outgoing creative services director, “and what he stands for.”
Stuart’s last day at WCNC was Friday, July 10. She’s going to Nashville to be the CSD at WSMV, the NBC affiliate there owned by Meredith.
“Who is Fred, and why should our viewers connect with him,” are the goals of the campaign, according to Collura.
“He’s from here … he’s a seasoned veteran journalist with a sensibility for connecting with people. So we wanted to try and capture that.”
Sitting your on-air talent down and just talking to them in an intimate setting can be an engaging and effective technique to allow them to be themselves, to be real, which is what you hope will ultimately be the reason viewers will want to watch them.
“Stripping away the veneer is a great way to say it,” says Collura. “I believe contemporary news anchors need to be real people.”
Here are several more examples of promos that NBC affiliates aired in the highly-rated Super Bowl game this past weekend. Some of these were sent to me or found on Facebook, others are thanks to Don Smith’s blog, I/Do/Promoz.
Some TV stations still do their own holiday promos now and certainly have in the past.
I found some creative and unique holiday spots from yesteryear that I thought I’d share. These are fun to look at even if you never worked at these stations. But if you did work there, these will bring back great memories and familiar faces.
It’s the season of sharing so why not share your station’s holiday promos FROM ANY YEAR.
Send me your station holiday spots from any year to share by emailing me the online link or a small file version I can post online. Got a question or want to brainstorm? I’m at 817-578-6324 or [email protected]
You might have missed the announcement that due to bad weather and repair work on the Rockefeller Center Ice Skating Rink, the annual holiday sing-along by the employees at New York City’s NBC-owned WNBC was canceled for this year. So here are a few WNBC sing-alongs from years past.
WNBC New York, 1979
WNBC New York, 1986
WNBC New York, 1997
And here are some outtakes from the CBS O&O in New York’s holiday shoot in 1992.
WCBS New York, 1992
And here are two, back-to-back holiday promos from WSMV, Meredith’s NBC affiliate in Memphis.