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Marketing Matters

Study: Tablets and TV Compete for Attention

TVSpy’s sister site, LostRemote has posted the results of a recent study about tablet use and television.  Exploring what they’re calling two-screen viewing, consumer research house GfK MRI concluded that 63% of tablet owners watch TV while using their tablets at least once a week.  The breakdown of two-screen viewers by gender and age is shown in the graphic above.

The number of respondents who paid attention to both TV and tablet (36%) and those who paid more attention to their tablet (36%) was evenly split.  The takeaway?  Tablets can distract users from paying attention to what’s happening on TV.  But that isn’t necessarily bad news for advertisers.  The study shows 28% of two-screen viewers looked up a product that was advertised on a show they were watching.

The study also shows two-screen viewing isn’t going away with 81% of those surveyed saying they liked having two screens in front of them regardless of where their attention falls.

Click here for the .pdf of the study.  You can also see graphic breakdowns of what people do while two-screen viewing and the possible growth opportunity for advertisers and TV stations after the jump. Read more

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How the Mobile Tech Trend Will Change Branding

This is Part 3 in a web series on mobile marketing. Read Part 1 & Part 2 here.

Highlights:
-Mobile’s always-on characteristic will foster software tools to prevent this access from becoming overwhelming.
-Potential customers unfamiliar with your brand will have new powerful tools to actively hide from your advertising.
-Building trust will be a vital prerequisite to any kind of customer access.

Last week I attended an internet conference where they proclaimed three tech juggernauts for the coming decade: social networking, cloud computing, and mobile. You can now buy an Apple iPad at Walmart, and by 2014 more people will connect to the Internet through mobile devices than desktop computers. Tablet computers are now 1% of computer sales but are expected to grow to 23% by 2015.

The Big Workflow Change
The nature of mobile computing demands a change in the most deeply ingrained workflow practices. Most software and hardware is built around the concept of an intermittent internet experience. We sit down at the computer, surf a bit, then terminate our connectivity by getting up and walking away. Today, most people spend long portions of their day unconnected from the net.

Mobile changes all that. That internet device in your purse or on you hip can always be with you. Microsoft’s “Really?” ad did a fine job showing the humorous side of how always-on connectivity can take over our lives. Look for ultimately customizable interface and notification systems to come on strong. Beep my device with a custom notification if my trusted friends contact me. Transfer everyone else to oblivion. Imagine the clamor when everyone is on the net, all the time, and has instant access to you at any moment. That much accessibility could easily take over your life.

I notice this in my own life. I have too much availability and I am increasingly reliant on software to help me stay focused on what’s important. I have an email filter that automatically moves important people to the top of my inbox. I have custom ringtones for my most trusted confidants. After watching my correspondence for years, Facebook and Google know the products I don’t use, and their ads have taken on a refreshing relevancy.

The Software Personal Assistant
Surfing and exploring the world is more difficult on a small screen than on big desktop computers, so we will look to technology to make it easier. Software agents will highlight the choices and report back to us with the best picks. More of these productivity tools are coming online all the time. Eventually, all of us will have our own virtual assistant to bolster productivity and find fascinating stuff we love. The mobile future is about managing our attention, narrowing access to chosen groups, and protecting ourselves from the ever-more sophisticated ad tools used by those who want to waste our time.

Privacy concerns will continue to be there, but as the tools get safer and more functional, most of us will succumb to the trade-off of efficiency versus privacy. What we see on our mobile device will be gleaned from a computer analysis of our always-on behavior. That will include tracking our every step through GPS, indexing our every utterance, and cross tabbing every purchase we make.

The Young Know Best
As we all become more reliant on mobile internet, there will be big implications for marketers. Custom software tools will allow all of us to construct an electronic bunker around our lives and carefully manage who gets even a moment of our attention. Brands that operate on the interruption paradigm will be banished. Only brands that foster a true reciprocal relationship will be granted the honor of a moment of the customer’s attention.

This trend is most evident with many of the younger generation who have all but abandoned e-mail. A lot of the young people in my life no longer participate in e-mail. My nephew asked me, “Why would you subject yourself to all that crap from everybody in the world?” The only way that I can communicate with him is through Facebook and his mobile device.

He carefully guards both of these connections, never allowing access to anyone he does not trust. While my generation has a desire to “just know what’s going on,” he carefully manages and sequesters his attention to include only those things that truly fascinate. Finding cool stuff is important to him, but he doesn’t do that by stepping out into the public square of the general internet. He finds cool through communication with a small and trusted group of uber social agents, and purveyors of style.

He is not advertising phobic. His Facebook page is filled with fan connections to the products and services that exemplify his life. He boldly proclaims his love of these products with a swagger in his step and a smile on his face. These trusted brands are a badge of coolness and a beloved extension of his personal style. He wears their logos on his clothes and showcases them in his Facebook personal description: “I love the feel of my BAPE jeans, and never wear anything but Nikes.”

As with everything else, the kids in our lives are setting the trend that all of us will soon follow – a life of carefully managed always-on access. Our mobile phone will be a constant companion and leaving home without it will be akin to leaving the house naked.

Trust Will Trump Power
The implication for advertisers – without the ultimate trust of your customers, your brand message won’t just be dismissed, most people will actively hide from it. The advertising job will move away from a mass-audience center, and take on a disturbing bipolar characteristic – full access to those who love you, and yelling at a brick wall for those unfamiliar with your products.

The new technology-empowered ability to banish your message from existence means the passing of ego-driven, feature-focused ads. Your brand conversation will need to be real and genuine. It will need to acknowledge your flaws, but most of all, it will need to listen.

Graeme Newell is a broadcast and cable marketing consultant who specializes in emotional marketing. Check out his teasing seminar here. You can reach Graeme at gnewell@602communications.com.

How Mobile Technology is Defining the Future of Video

This is Part 2 in a web series on the future of mobile technology

Highlights:
-The technological breakthroughs in mobile viewing are now driving a new generation of TV set.
-The iPad & Google TV represent two landmark shifts in TV’s future.
-Cable TV is desperate to hold on to the living room viewing experience and will try to thwart these new viewing interfaces.

After more than a decade of waiting, the electronics industry is finally making some major progress towards unifying the mobile and living room television experience. The breakthrough finally showed up in two new devices – the iPad and Google TV. They represent a paradigm shift in how to build a truly interchangeable viewing experience. The smart strategy – get the small screen viewing experience right, then build it big.

Build it small, then build it big
For a generation the TV industry has been going at it the wrong way. They have been trying to miniaturize the traditional television experience. Companies like Google and Apple flipped this model on its head. They took the functionality and innovation of the miniature screen and supersized it to fit the needs of a new generation of viewers who want a very custom and very personal viewing experience. The philosophy – multiple screens, each with a custom form factor. A big TV for the living room, a tablet device for watching under the covers, and a mobile phone screen for viewing in the grocery checkout line.

What is still missing from this model is the ability to seamlessly shift between devices. I should be able to start a movie in the living room, then get a little sleepy and head to the bedroom where I will whip out my tablet computer, and seamlessly continue the movie. After falling asleep in the middle of the flick, I will then pick back up again the next day by viewing it on my mobile phone. This is possible on Netflix right now. Apple and Google also have the technology to do this, but still have to get the entertainment industry to play ball.

Living room TV as Big Mobile Phone
This is the promise of new platforms like Google TV and Apple TV–function will follow form. The guts of the iPhone 4 and the iPad are almost identical. Both devices operate on iOS 4. But while the insides of these two little computers are the same, the viewing experiences are very different.

The large TV viewing experience was figured out years ago. It has always been the small TV experience that has held the industry back, but Apple’s iOS4 and Google’s Android have figured this out. Now the next step is easy. Supersizing the operating systems to the gigantic flat screen size will not be a big leap. Your living room TV will be running the same operating system as your tablet computer, and the phone on your hip. The possibilities become endless. In essence, your TV will be a big, whomping mobile viewing device that never moves, but shares much of the functionality of that mobile device, including the ability to surf the internet, make calls, use geo-tracking services and index video. Think of it as a screen from Sony, but a brain from Google.

Cable TV’s Worst Nightmare
While this melding of the mobile and home TV experience sounds like TV heaven for the viewers, many of the major players in the entertainment industry are doing everything they can to shoot this down. The satellite and cable industries stand to lose billions if they lose control of the living room television experience. Cable will use its incredible power and amazing lobbying ability to shoot this down at every turn.

Read more…

Graeme Newell is a broadcast and web marketing specialist who serves as the president and founder of 602 communications. You can reach Graeme at gnewell@602communications.com.

Cashing In on the Next Generation of Mobile Internet

Highlights:
-Mobile computing will light a fire of web revenue in the future.
-Form factor is driving computer innovation, not speed.
-Anticompetitive phone plans are fueling amazing hardware innovation.
-The speed of 4G networks combined with the power of cloud computing will empower all new mobile services.

It was the biggest disappointment of the new millennium–internet revenue. Everyone from local bloggers to a huge media conglomerates dreamed of cashing in on the low-cost and low price-of-entry web publishing wave. Blogs proliferated. Huge websites launched. Then, everyone got a startling dose of reality when they added up the numbers and saw that the promised margins just weren’t there. Web sites were abandoned, and everyone settled back into the old media paradigm.

But quietly and methodically a brand new wave of web revenue possibility has been building for more than a decade. That wave is about to hit the shores and wash up a lot of new cash – but only for those who have taken the time to properly prepare. That wave is mobile devices.

Mobile phones hold the promise of a completely new way to use the Internet that shakes off the old traditions of the desktop. They will bring an entirely new functionality that most businesses have yet to fully understand. Over the next few weeks I will be writing about how some of the smartest minds think this new technology will grow and come to dominate the web. I’ll also be talking about ways that smart companies can get in on the game.

Mobile Web is King
We have seen the first steps of this tentative revolution over the past few years. ComScore reports that more than 40% of iPhone owners do more browsing on their phone than on PCs. Steve Jobs recently proclaimed that Apple is now a “mobile devices company” and not a computer company. Apple’s revenue from desktop computers is now only a third of the company total. iPhones, IPods and iPads now drive the company, not PCs.

A Computer for Every Situation
Fueling this fire is the trend toward lighter and smaller portable devices. Until recently, computers followed Moore’s law and customers purchased a new desktop PC every two or three years as the speed doubled. But now, desktop chip innovation has slowed down, and is less of a driver of computer purchasing Faster chips are tougher to do, so manufacturers have tried to keep pace by building processors with multiple “cores,” in essence, packing 4, 8 or 12 computers into a single box.

But the public isn’t buying it. Their tastes have changed. Now the focus is on multiple computers, each custom tailored to specific home and work environments. One computer for study and bills, another for the couch, and another for bedtime reading. Form factor becomes the main driver and not speed. Laptops are now the best selling type of computer. For the most part, notebook devices like the Apple Ipad are not replacing computers, they are supplementing them.

Anticompetitive Cell Plans Drive Innovation
These two trends of mobile web browsing and form-fitted computers are going to join forces and create exponential growth within the mobile phone market. Surprisingly, it is the American cell phone bureaucracy that is driving this amazing pace of innovation. Although a lot of us hate our cell phone company and its restrictive contracts, the structure of these confining plans provides the ideal breeding ground for hardware innovation.

Read More…

Graeme Newell is a broadcast and cable marketing consultant who specializes in emotional marketing. Check out his teasing seminar here. You can reach Graeme at gnewell@602communications.com.

TV’s Struggle with Conversational Marketing

Highlights:
-Listening to customers continues to be a low priority in much of the media industry.
-Negative viewer feedback is frightening but can be effectively managed and turned into an asset that proves authenticity.
-Spend more time listening and facilitating discussion.
-Do an honest gut check on your own ego. Is your site designed to be a place were customers are expected to worship your company?

“There was a definite process by which one made people into friends, and it involved talking to them and listening to them for hours at a time.”

Rebecca West
Irish critic, journalist, & novelist (1892 – 1983)

In 1999, the landmark book “The Cluetrain Manifesto” created a whole new science of marketing – one that is focused on authentic two-way communication with customers. “Conversational marketing” takes the focus off the product and the client and puts it firmly on the customer. Instead of speaking “at” the customer through advertising, its primary goal is to engage and win customers through real dialogue.

A few months ago at the annual Conversational Marketing Summit, the organizers put out a white paper checking on the progress of conversational marketing in the past ten years. The media industry was singled out as one of the businesses lagging behind the rest of the nation when it comes to true authentic dialog with customers.

Conversational marketing is not a new concept. For two generations, Dale Carnegie‘s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” has been a must-read for anyone in sales. The message – shut up and listen. If you want to build a bond with someone, let her talk about herself – both her joys and her fears. The simple act of being heard is one of the greatest gifts you can give another human being.

The language we use when talking about TV marketing campaigns reveals our mindset when it comes to our customers. The words we use have more in common with war than with conversation. We have “doppler wars.” Advertising campaigns are “launched” and “waged.” Ads are purchased in “waves.” The audience is a prize to be “won.” Like the troops landing at Normandy, we assault the beaches of market share in hopes of wrestling valuable territory from a challenger. Most of us are transfixed with our competitor’s tactics, not the behavior of our customers.

Traditional one-way marketing campaigns are just easier. That’s the way it’s been for 75 years. We talk and everyone else listens. Conversational marketing can be incredibly humbling. When you give your customers a chance to comment on your product and people, it can be startling to hear what they really think of you. Honest feedback in a public forum is just too scary and hard on the ego. The knee-jerk reaction is to shut it down.

Still, some companies have learned to embrace customer feedback and use it as a daily roadmap for product evolution. They actively promote their forums and social network sites as safe places where honest dialog is treasured. The knowledge these companies gain proves invaluable.

Read more…

Graeme Newell is a broadcast and web marketing specialist who serves as the president and founder of 602 communications. You can reach Graeme at gnewell@602communications.com.

News Web Site Economics 101

Highlights:
-The broadcast strategy of providing a broad view of the day’s news is not very effective for web news.
-Web sites built with traditional news content attract minimal advertiser interest.
-The station video library has strong potential to generate revenue.

Clutter.

Ask web developers to look at television station web sites and that is usually the first word out of their mouths. Banner ads zip and strobe around the screen. Long rows of tiny head shots span across the top of the page, with everyone but the custodian flashing their pearly whites. Glance over to the left side of the home page and you will often find more than 30 links with everything from lawyer referrals, to job listings, to breaking news. It is overwhelming. Click on any of these links and you’ll often find dated content and very little video, considering it is a TV site. The content is a mile wide and an inch deep.

Plain and simple, most stations just don’t have the resources to populate their sites with meaty content. Most TV station web sites are badly undermanned. One of the busiest people in the station is the webmaster. She has a constant battle just to keep the information current, let alone compelling. If we examine web site traffic numbers we can convince ourselves the numbers are good. We can site exponential growth but when you compare the numbers to other comparable sites, the totals are embarrassingly low. We know we need to be in the web game, but the majority of TV stations are playing not to lose. We’re not putting much money into them because we’re not getting much money out of them.

The problem is our mindset. We’re trying to recreate broadcasting on the web. We do the web just like we do TV – broad. There is just a little bit of everything and not enough of anything. Because of its very nature, TV news has evolved to become a headline service. Our web sites mirror our on-air broadcast. You usually leave our web sites still hungry, wishing for a little more meat on the bone.

The big problem is that the advertisers just aren’t buying our sites. If your web site is a headline service that mirrors your on-air broadcast, you are your own worst enemy when it comes to revenue generation. If both mediums contain the same type of content, they will generally attract similar audiences. The cost per thousand of TV is exponentially better than the same rate online. If that’s the case, why would an advertiser pay much more for an ad on the TV weather page when a commercial in the TV weather forecast will delivery many more people at a lower price?

The Xs and Os content of local TV news is a losing game on the web. Sites that feature insubstantial amounts of general news are attractive to no one. Basic local news, weather and sports sites have a hard time recruiting new advertisers. Most TV web site buys simply move dollars from the TV broadcast buy to the TV web buy. Little new revenue is created. If your site is squarely focused on selling to middle America demos of TV news, you’ll have some powerful competition from traditional media.

Read more…

Graeme Newell is a broadcast and web marketing specialist who serves as the president and founder of 602 communications. You can reach Graeme at gnewell@602communications.com.

TV Marketing Lessons from the Retail Side

Highlights:
-All customers have “a story” about why they like your product, but many are oblivious to their own true motivations.
-TV managers are often so enamored of their own products that they tend to exaggerate the importance of product features.
-Over-simplistic research that focuses exclusively on product features misses a huge purchase motivator – the customer’s own ego.

The Clairvoyant Salesman
There are times when I really pity the women of the world. They will never get to live one of the most exhilarating experiences of raw power to be found on the planet. It is that most quintessential of male experiences – one that every man looks back on as a rite of passage. It is a carefully managed and choreographed ritual that rivals the theatrics of a Broadway play. All the players have carefully scripted roles and the feelings of emotion run high. It is the experience of buying a man’s business suit.

If I owned a TV station that wanted to attract a male audience, I would go out and hire the entire team at the clothing store, Joseph A. Banks. I would let them weave their powerbroker magic on my unsuspecting male viewers. Tailors know what makes a man tick. They have a carefully rehearsed set of actions and words that hook us in every time. While everyone else at the office knows that I am a mid-level pencil pusher, the tailor knows that deep down I crave business power and status. While everyone else is treating me like the futz that I am, he pushes every power-mad button that hides deep inside my evil heart.

He deferentially refers to me as “Mr. Newell” and “sir.” He seems genuinely surprised to find out that I am not the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

He assumes I mingle with the power crowd on a regular basis. He uses lines like “This is a suit that will look sharp at a board of directors meeting or at a charity ball.”

He seems oblivious to my ever-growing waistline and comments that “someone as active as you needs a fabric that breaths so you’re fresh for corporate meetings.”

When I ask for the lower priced suit he points out that I will surely accumulate vast wealth through astute buying. He demurely demonstrates how careful accessorizing will turn my modest suit into a power juggernaut that cowers my rivals at work.

It Ain’t Just About the Product
We in the TV business could learn a lot from the suit sellers of the world. They really know their audience. They manage to transform the rather benign experience of garment selection and tailoring into an ego-feeding romp of raw power. They have uplifted the process so it is all about a man’s emotional needs. These aren’t just clothes for work. Every time a man puts on that suit, a part of him remembers the feeling of power the tailor instilled during the selection process.

What I notice is that the tailor spends very little time talking about the product features of the garment. While he makes cursory remarks about the fabric weight, cut and overall quality, he knows that’s not what sells suits. I can get a good suit that fits from almost any clothing store. While I probably don’t realize it myself, he knows that my buying decision will be based on how capable I feel when I put on that suit, stand up straight, gaze into the mirror and bask in my own self-deluded feeling of power.

Real Customer Research
Every day, tailors do their market research. They continually hone the emotional hot buttons that make men positively glow with pride. Years of dealing with their customers have taught them exactly how men like to feel about themselves.

In television we don’t get this kind of direct feedback. Most of the comments we see are from the daily call sheet. Unfortunately, these people tend to represent the fringe of our audience, not the mainstream. If you have enough time to call up a TV station and complain, you must have a lot of time on your hands.

Field teams get an opportunity to see viewers throughout the day, but most managers and company types rely on research to decipher the strange behavior of our fickle viewers. But even this is fading. As budgets continue to shrink, we’re all doing less and less research. I was talking to a top thirty TV station this week that has not done any research in more than four years. The GM admitted he doesn’t have a clue about how to connect with his audience.

The Self-Obsessed Marketer
Because so many companies don’t have good audience data, they tend to fall back to marketing the one thing they DO know a lot about. It is the one thing they spend countless hours on each day – themselves. Most show marketing is one long list of product features, claims of superiority, and boasting.

This mindset is evident even in the names of the tools that TV stations use each day. They wind up the hyperbole engine and dream up self-aggrandizing monikers for things like weather radar that are more appropriate for a carnival ride than a weather tool. “Super Mega HD Doppler with Action Tracking.” Imagine a tailor trying to sell you a suit that was made from “Mega Breathy, Super Weave Action Fabric.” It just wouldn’t work.

Product features are still an important part of marketing, but in television, we tend to think they are the end game. We try to make a very rational and methodical case that our shows are better by spewing a laundry list of features. Producers are fact people and our feeling is that the more facts we present, the more airtight the case for superiority. We make a very rational case for why people should love us. Problem is, rational claims will only get you so far in advertising. Most of what makes us love a product is emotional.

Making an Emotional Connection
There is no difference between the airline seat on Southwest Airlines and the one on United. So why is it that I like Southwest Airlines and I think United is just another bad airline? Because of their friendlier brand. Why do we pay double the price for Evian water? Because we feel like international adventures whisking through the grape-strewn hills of France with every sip.

Skillful advertisers often know us better than we know ourselves. Most people would profess they bought their car because of its gas mileage, reliability and ride characteristics. But we all know the most important buying criteria is the incredibly intangible feeling of sinking into that seat and feeling way damned cool. The gas mileage and other sensible features got us into the showroom, but these sensible attributes won’t close the deal. The car salesperson knows every button to push to feed our fragile egos. That’s why we often leave the showroom with much more car than we intended. But we can usually convince ourselves that it was well worth the extra cost.

Most TV managers have very little information about what motivates their customers to watch. The problem is that we tend to research our product features and not our customer’s motivations.

Marketing Research vs Product Research
If researchers from Joseph A. Banks were to call today and ask me questions about why I buy a suit, I would have a complete story ready for them. I would mention that I wanted a quality fabric, a stylish cut, wearability and crisp creases. If they were to take my responses and use that information to build a marketing campaign for their stores, it would be a disaster. They wouldn’t sell any suits. Because for most men – it ain’t just about the suit. It’s about power.

So when a show researcher calls up your audience and asks the viewer “Is coverage of breaking news important to you?” What kind of usable data do you think you’ll get? It ain’t just about the megawatts of the doppler, the speediness of the live trucks and the quality of the information. It’s about an emotional connection with your product and your people.
If we hope to grow our audiences, we need to take the focus off ubiquitous product features and find out the real reasons people watch TV. It is different in every town. Only then can we hope to bring new people to the tent and slow the steady bleeding of audience that has plagued our industry this decade.

People watch TV because of their very personal agendas to stay informed, stay safe and be a part of their community. Discovering new information is simply the catalyst that leads to their ultimate goal – a specific feeling about their connectedness to their community.

We know they like weather – but why? Most all stations slap a “keep you safe” banner on their ads, but the complexity of the emotional motivation goes far beyond this simple solution. Is it fear? Connectedness? Worry about family? Smartness? Most managers don’t know. And until we figure this out, we’re going to have a hard time holding on to our audience by simply repeating “mega-doppler 3000″ a million times.

Graeme Newell is a broadcast and cable marketing consultant who specializes in emotional marketing. Check out his teasing seminar here. You can reach Graeme at gnewell@602communications.com.

Getting the Best Sound and Video Into Teases

All newsrooms shoot great sound out in the field, but many times, this incredibly valuable resource never makes it into the teases. These compelling components grab attention and keep viewers through the break.

Often times, the problem is “video hoarding.” Photographers and reporters hold back their best sound and video. They don’t want to “give it away” in the tease. Great video belongs in BOTH the tease and the story.

The analogy I always make is a movie trailer. Imagine if the director said, “Don’t use any of the big explosions or hot love scenes in the movie trailer, it might give away the plot of the movie.” If the trailer is the least bit uninteresting, no one will give the movie a chance. The same thing holds true with your story teases. Viewers think to themselves, “If those are the best scenes from the story, it must be a pretty dull package.”

Reporters and photographers should check in immediately after entering the building. Check in with the producer and alert him/her to the teasable elements that were shot. Most newsrooms shoot great stuff, but the communication system breaks down after the video gets in the building. Teach reporters and photographers that great teases are just as much a part of their job as great stories.

Graeme Newell is a broadcast and web marketing specialist who serves as the president and founder of 602 communications. You can reach Graeme at gnewell@602communications.com.

Turn Your Anchor Tosses into Anchor Teases

The weather toss and the sports toss are the two places in a newscast when on-air talent get to shine. Most shows are so tightly scripted these days that this is about the only place for talent interaction. In most shows, the weather and sports talent have a brief on-air conversation with the news anchors just prior to their segment. The goal of this component is to show a bit of personality, and to carry viewers into the next part of the program. Because these are usually unscripted, these can be some of the most dynamic moments of the show.

Just like a tease before a break, this part of the show needs to demonstrate to viewers that great stuff is coming up and they should stick around. While it is important to not overproduce these natural moments, following a loosely structured agenda here is just a smart idea. This is because most anchors can do a good job of demonstrating camaraderie in the toss, but they can also inadvertently skewer the reporter, weather, or sports person who is about to start their segment.

Far too often, the topic of these tosses catches the arriving talent completely unaware. The weather person is forced to perform some verbal gymnastics, desperately trying to get the show back on track. The weather person is sometimes asked a question that she is not prepared to answer. Or worst of all, she is forced to prematurely expose a critical fact in her forecast, which throws off the pacing and build of her entire presentation.

A good toss should smoothly transition to the important story of the day. During the previous break, the weather and sportscaster should give the news anchors a short promotable point to make during the toss. Give the main anchors a specific item to use in the last sentence of the toss. There is no need to rehearse. We just want to make sure everyone is on the same page. For example:
“It sure was sunny today, but I understand some big changes are on the way.”

This open ended comment foreshadows the complexity and importance of the weather forecast. This kind of comment is a little gift that the news anchors should give the weather person each day. Another example:
“I have never seen it rain that hard. Wow, what an amazing storm today.”

Again, you have provided the weather person with a perfect set up to show her expertise.

Above all, make sure the news anchors do not give away the forecast:
“I understand we’re in for rain on Thursday followed by clearing for the weekend.”
“I’m so glad the fog is finally going to clear out.”

Comments like these are like standing up in a theater and yelling out how the movie will end. They torpedo a weather forecast by disclosing the big finish.

Read More…

Graeme Newell is a broadcast and web marketing specialist who serves as the president and founder of 602 communications. You can reach Graeme at gnewell@602communications.com.

Effective Website Teases

Driving traffic to your web site is a priority task for most newsrooms these days. Front-line producers have developed sophisticated strategies to carry viewers from segment to segment, but effective web site teasing is rare in our business. In most newsrooms it is an afterthought, at best.

Unfortunately, most producers fall back on the ubiquitous newscast tease when pushing to the web site: “For more on this story, be sure to visit our web site at….” The station makes promises of hard-hitting enterprising journalism with limp coverage promises such as “more,” “details,” and “additional information.” This virtually guarantees the web site information is headed for oblivion.

No self-respecting producer would dream of promoting the next news segment in such a vague way. If we followed this same teasing strategy within the show, all our teases would promise “when we come back we’ll have more news,” or “when we return we’ll have details on the day’s events.” When we promote vague web coverage, we’re just being lazy.

The worst part is that bad web site teasing does double damage. First of all, it fails to drive viewers to your site. Do you really think someone is going to remember to check the web site after the newscast if the only promise is vague details of unknown coverage? Getting someone to move from the television to that computer in the upstairs bedroom requires some serious motivation. Unless you prove that the climb up the stairs is worth the effort, viewers just won’t bother.

Secondly, vague teasing brands your web site as a rehash of your newscast. For years, TV web sites have simply parroted information previously presented in the broadcast. All those years of neglect are coming back to haunt us now. Most viewers expect the same old same old on TV web sites. If you can’t be bothered to tell viewers about the specifics of unique web content, how good could it be? Teasing this way is like a restaurant teasing, “we’ll have lots of food at our establishment.” Unless we sell the sizzle of that juicy steak, viewers expect the same tired fare.

Just like in-show teases, web teases should promise copious coverage of riveting information mentioned in the story. Whenever you find yourself promising vagaries such as “more, details, further information, additional facts, a breakdown or other coverage,” that’s a sign you haven’t gone deep enough in your coverage promises. Be very specific in your promises and always ask yourself, “Is this tease motivating enough to get viewers off their butts, up the stairs, firing up the computer and searching for my web site?”

Graeme Newell is a broadcast and web marketing specialist who serves as the president and founder of 602 communications. You can reach Graeme at gnewell@602communications.com.

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