September 14th, 2010
I love technology! Beginning my third decade of consulting I am instantly connected to my clients, my family and my friends all over the country. What a blast – and something I would never had dreamed of when I started in this business in 1989. Back then I relied on airport payphones to stay in touch with clients, and wrote notes down on the good ole’ yellow legal pad.
Now – I am armed with a Blackberry Storm (soon to upgrade to a Droid X), iPad, Slingbox, wireless Internet for my Apple computer and I connect via email, text, blogs, Facebook, Twitter and, oh yeah – cellphone. I can see my client newscasts whenever and wherever I am. Last night I watched a reporter audition tape on You Tube for a client.
A few years ago my client in Hawaii was debuting a morning newscast. I had just landed at O’Hare airport and was in a car heading to South Bend with a colleague driving. With the four hour time difference, the newscast was just beginning in Honolulu. So, I used my wireless Internet card in my laptop, and my Slingbox to watch the debut while we were driving through Chicago. I was on the phone talking to the news director too. That’s pretty cool.
Last week, I was in Columbus, Ohio at a horse track (Hey – it was Friday night!) – watching the newscast from my Phoenix client on my iPad, using the mobile Slingbox app – and exchanging tweets with one of the anchors during commercial breaks. He was telling me about his brother being the grand marshal at the NASCAR race that night in Richmond.
Recently I was about to board a flight at DFW airport when a client general manager called. He wanted me to look at the latest rendition of their evolving website home page. I turned on my iPad – he mailed it to me – and we instantly had a conversation about the new look. It took less than five minutes from beginning to end.
This technology also allows for instant feedback to clients when there is breaking news – or if they have a big story they want me to see. They just drop me an email and let me know what’s happening, and I can usually get on the Slingbox and take a look. A quick email or phone call then allows me to weigh in with thoughts and suggestions.
Of course, my instant feedback isn’t always appreciated – as you can imagine. I was watching new weather graphics on a noon newscast for a client in Nashville a few years ago – and sent the news director an email noting that the names of towns were missing. That resulted in a email from the news director – “Geez Willi I’m at lunch and didn’t see it. I’ll check it out when I get back to the station.” Sometimes technology can be a pain in the ass I guess!
I have had a Facebook page for quite awhile, but have been relatively slow to embrace Twitter. But I am hooked on it now. It seems like a really good way for TV stations and especially anchors to connect with followers throughout the day. I use it to keep pace with what is happening in all my client markets – and there are also some good chuckles along the way too. Since I’m new at Twitter – I need more followers – hop on board @ARDJim.
So what’s my message in this blog? It is a simple one – many more anchors need to embrace new ways to connect, listen and interact with their customers. There are a few exceptions – but in many markets it seems that anchors feel they’re too busy to use this new technology. That’s a mistake. In these days of diminished loyalty to TV newscasts, anchors must create their own personal brand. You do that by being very active on your TV station website, Facebook and Twitter. If you don’t – you are missing a wonderful opportunity to insure your future growth where you need to be known – on multiple platforms.
After all, if an ancient soul such as myself can embrace all this new fangled stuff what the heck is your excuse for standing on the sidelines?
September 5th, 2010
Do you frustrate your viewers in an attempt to send them to your website? If so, you’re not alone – I see this huge mistake made in newscasts across the country. This ill-advised practice was spotlighted in a recent article in the New York Daily News. New Yorkers were frustrated by commuting problems with the Long Island Railroad – and the local TV newscasts made a bad situation worse.
The article cited numerous examples. WPIX telling viewers, “We have a full list of all the delays and cancellations at WPIX.com.” Huh? And, WNBC told local news viewers, “Before you head out, you do want to take a look at the MTA website.” Huh? I’m sure viewers were saying, “Why in the hell am I watching this local newscast when they aren’t giving me the important information?” And we wonder why viewers keep saying local TV newscasts are not relevant to their lives.
I was watching a local TV newscast recently when they teased a story on the worst places to live in America. I sat through the commercial break, and they came on and gave the one worst city – and said, “For a complete list go to our website.” Huh? You owe it to your viewers to at least give them a top ten list, before sending them away. This kind of gaffe is committed by stations that have a poor strategy – or no strategy at all – for sending viewers to their websites.
So let me outline a solid, basic strategy for meeting your viewer’s needs while also trying to drive traffic to your website. First off – viewers come to your newscast to get COMPLETE information and you must give it to them in a clear, easy to follow manner. It is also important to drive traffic on your website – but the BEST way to achieve that is to promise deeper, richer content that is IN ADDITION to your complete newscast report. You must also be very specific in what they’ll get if they check out your website. Unfortunately, many stations still say, “For more information visit our website.” That does not work. Give them very specific information instead, “To read the complete search warrant,” OR “To see a list of all the suspect’s felony convictions over the years” etc.
Here is an excellent litmus test. It was offered by New York Daily News TV News Editor Richard Huff, “When local stations push viewers to find other avenues to answer their basic questions, well, they’ve failed.” Amen brother!