My client ran a large, network TV station. He confided that their news ratings were down and asked if I could help. I wanted to say ‘yes’. But we live in an on-demand world. With cell phones in hand, we’ve got the world at our fingertips. We won’t wait for a newscast that suits his broadcast schedule. Hell, we won’t wait ten seconds for a video to load!
Local TV newscasts are battling more than ratings. They’re fighting to stay relevant. No matter where you travel, newscasts look remarkably identical, down to the spray-tanned anchors, perky weather girl (er, meteorologist), and ex-jock sports guy. No surprise that ratings are down nationally, by double-digits.
So, I asked, “What makes your station special? ”
“Well, our sports guy is popular. And our slogan is We’re On Your Side.”
Okay, but that’s just a throwaway line. Nobody buys that you’re on their side. So, either prove how you’re making their lives better or ditch the slogan. Then, build your brand around what truly differentiates your newscast.
Here’s my take. Yankee legend Yogi Berra would’ve advised my friend, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might end up someplace else.” In other words, it’s time for local TV stations to reinvent their news strategy. Starting with…
- Stop begging viewers to watch your 6pm news. They won’t.
- Commit to being the go-to source for breaking news…24/7.
- Dump the stale, 30 minute news format. By the evening, we’ve already seen the stories on Facebook or Twitter.
- Inject brief news updates throughout the day. Breaking stories designed for short attention spans. Want more details? Go to our website, podcasts etc.
- Be authentic and speak to viewers as people, don’t just read the teleprompter.
And if you’re truly on my side, please bring back Breaking Bad.
Next: The Future of Fake Food