June 25th, 2008
The 25-54 demo is out-dated! Every 7 seconds another Baby Boomer turns 50. By 2009, the majority of all American households will be led by someone 50 or older.
Many TV general managers I have talked to agree with my call to change the so-called "key demo" for advertsiers to 30-to-60 year olds. The buying power continues to get grayer in this country and needs to be recognized by the those 20-something media buyers.
Think back to your 20's – did you have any "buying power?" I didn't. But today I do. My two sons complain that I am imposible to buy a birthday gift for – because if I really want or need something these days, I just go get it. I could never do that when I was in my 30's and 40's.
These days in America the 50-plus crowd controls 50% of the discretionary income. These folks also watch a great deal more local television news than the under-50 bunch. But, since they are over 54-years-old they are unwanted by television buyers. That's crazy!
Consider this, the marketing research firm, Packaged Facts expects the buying power of 60-to-74-year-olds to increase by $552 billion between 2004 and 2009. That is a jump in buying power of nearly 77 percent. Do you really want to walk away from all that money?
So, join me in my crusade to move the "key demo" up a few years to 30-to-60-year-olds. Your bottomline will be better for it!
June 17th, 2008
If you needed proof that traditional news outlets are in competition with thousands of Internet sources, consider the first report of the untimely death of Tim Russert. No, it wasn't his own network – NBC – or any other traditional broadcast or cable news outlet.
Beating the pack by a full 36 minutes was Wikipedia! That's right – the controversial site written and edited by anonymous sources – beat the venerable Associated Press by over half an hour. Wikipedia had the news 38 minutes before NBC told the world.
In fact, there were eight edits on the Wikipedia site before NBC could get Tom Brokaw to their studios and on the air. The web site NewsBlues reports that NBC in that time tried and failed to get a satellite feed from Brian Williams who was in Afghanistan. CNN apparently waited out of courtesy for NBC to break the news first about its longtime employee.
The big takeaway in all of this is that broadcasters need to quit glancing over their shoulders at their traditional competitors – and just think about serving their viewers quickly and efficiently. You're competitive world is now a universe.
By the way, NewsBlues reports that Wikipedia briefly had the wrong date for Russert's death – listing it as June 14th instead of the 13th. Therein lies the danger of citizen journalism – checks and balances still need to be in place. This is especially true in a world where viewers are concerned about inaccuracy in the news media.
June 17th, 2008
Someone once told me, "you can't cut enough expenses to get back to profitability, you have to have a revenue plan too." I believe this thinking is lost on most broadcast groups in these difficult times.
I hear from frustrated general managers every day that their company is only focused on cutting expenses, with no planning on how to protect their core business while at the same time pursuing new revenue streams. In fact, the GM's complain it is just the opposite – any new revenue ideas are routinely rejected immediately because all the corporate folks want to hear is where are you going to cut more expenses. Yes, that new revenue plan may take a small investment – but how about looking at the projected ROI?
There is no doubt that broadcasting is undergoing a huge sea change, and we will never return to the "good old days." But my observation is that an industry filled with smart people simply has gone into panic mode – and is relentlessly spinning in that environment every day.
Yes, when times are tough you must cut expenses. But, at AR&D we believe times like these also offer tremendous opportunity. If your company has clear thinking, and astute planning you will smartly step ahead of the competition while they are caught in the "cut expenses only" vortex.
So, instead of focusing on cutting expenses, you must also focus on how to re-engineer the business of broadcasting. How do you make the fewer people on staff more productive by taking advantage of new technologies and new thinking? How do you tap into creative new revenue streams instead of simply returning to the old revenue streams which are shallow and rapidly drying up?
I remember back in the early 90's when TV broadcasting was mired in a deep recession, we had a phrase at AR&D – "we choose not to participate." Now those slow business days don't compare to the much more difficult situation facing broadcasters today, but the message is the same. You can either slop around in the same muck as your competitors, or choose to move to a different place. A place that uses clear thinking to create the next generation of television. What are you going to do?
June 8th, 2008
Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi are all the offspring of Aliens who crashed in New Mexico in 1947? It is really a delicious urban myth that is debunked on the web site snopes.com.
I was on the web site checking out a different untrue urban myth. Some of my clients visit this web site quite frequently evaluating claims from viewer emails.
The myth about the politicians stems from a famous UFO incident near Roswell, New Mexico in July of 1947. Many witnesses claimed that a UFO with five aliens crash landed on a sheep ranch just outside of town. Many feel the Air Force covered up the incident.
Well, exactly nine months later in March of 1948, the Clintons, Gore, Dean, Pelosi along with John Kerry, Nancy Feinstein and Barbara Boxer were born. Could it be a coincidence or…
As a reporter who worked for me in Phoenix used to say, "that story is too good to check out, let's just run with it!" It certainly would explain a lot of things wouldn't it?
By the way, I too was born in March of 1948 – which compels my wife to say – "that certainly explains a lot of things doesn't it?"
June 6th, 2008
In these tight budgetary times, many stations are talking about reverting to "one-man bands" to save money. Call them VJ's or EJ's - I call them a mistake.
I encourage you to follow the lead of WNCN-TV in Raleigh instead. They have hired nearly two dozen "Beat Reporters." They are required to live in the targeted community that they cover.
It is a throwback to "the day" – when reporters on TV actually worked to cultivate contacts, and generate exclusive stories through those relationships. It was a far cry from the typical TV reporter of this generation who is content to be handed a story assignment at the morning meeting and go blissfully on their way.
The WNCN Beat Reporters generate their own stories by working the officials and regular folk in their community every day. They also feed VO's and VOSOT's to the station throughout the day, as well as work on their package. The stories are also posted on the WNCN web site as they are finished – not waiting until after the newscast.
The impact on the content on both WNCN's web site and their newscasts is dramatic. They both are filled with hyper-local content every day. The station seems to be everywhere in the DMA.
So, if you are considering a change in your newsgathering process – I encourage you to expand your thinking far beyond the narrow confines of a "one-man band." Step back and look at how making this change could make your news content stronger – both on the air and on the web.