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Marketing Matters

Mix Up the Structure of Story Packages

If you look at the basic structure of a newscast, it has changed very little since it was invented more than fifty years ago. Back in the days before clicker-happy viewers, the audience was more tolerant of less-interesting portions of a newscast. Changing the channel meant getting up from the chair. Now, viewers make snap one-second judgments about news programs. If you don’t entertain them right NOW, they won’t hesitate to blow past your newscast like teenagers headed for Florida on spring break.

All newscasts have points where viewers are more likely to switch away – just before the break, after the lead story, and after weather, are some of the more common ones. The beginning of a package is one of these vulnerable moments. Viewers will watch the intro to a story, then make a judgment. This means the beginning of any package is a vulnerable time.

For generations, we’ve followed a classic formula when building a news package.
1) Anchor introduction
2) Toss to reporter in the newsroom or field
3) Toss to the recorded story.

Problem is, all the good stuff is in the last part. If you follow this format, the first 30 seconds of your package will be talking heads. At the very point where viewers are making the decision to watch or surf out of there, you have an extended period of lip flap. All that great, interesting video, fascinating interviews, and field shots are yet to come. Most all packages reach their peak two-thirds of the way through the story. By that time, a lot of your audience may have cruised on over to the Speed Channel. It makes more sense to put some good stuff at the top, at the very place where viewers make their decision.

Mix up the structure of your packages. Start packages with the best components, the sound and video. Grab ‘em with the good stuff, then, go to your anchors. They’ll have interesting content to react to, creating a nice moment. The anchors won’t be forced to cold start every package using just words. They’ll appear more interesting and animated because they have the full support of great interesting video.

Making this change is never easy. It means reporters must be willing to “give up” some of their best material so the anchors will look better. Most reporters are hesitant to do this with simple facts, let alone precious video and sound. Win them by showing that more people will actually watch their package if they begin the intro with a bang.

Take a hard look at the structure of your packages. Is that newsroom toss adding to the story, or just putting more lip flap in front of the great video and sound? Break the mold on your package, and redesign it so great content gets used where it will hold the most viewers.

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.

Is Your Brand Effective? Take the Slogan Line Test

Highlights:
-You can influence your brand, but your customers ultimately own your brand.
-Take the seven question brand test.
-Effective branding plans are all about addressing customer needs, not a description of your product attributes.

Do you have a clearly defined brand position or just a catchy slogan with little product positioning behind it?

In last week’s column, I talked about the specific differences between a slogan and a brand. A slogan is not a brand. The job of a slogan is to clearly convey the brand position, not to drive it. The branding process should identify a laser-focused brand position first, then establish a slogan line to concisely convey the essence of that brand. A brand will clearly describe either the rational or emotional attachment to the viewer – not spout a list of product attributes.

Every product line has a brand, but a slogan line is optional. As a matter of fact, most products don’t have slogans.

You Do Not Own Your Brand
Brand positions can be influenced by advertising, but customers ultimately decide a product’s brand. Much to her chagrin, Britney Spears has a very defined brand position.

Word-of-mouth is the most powerful branding force on the planet. Without any advertising, Mother Teresa, Hitler, Congress, Santa, Hippies, and God all have incredibly defined brand positions. Advertising can facilitate a branding position, but it cannot drive it. Customers do that.

Sometimes a brand agrees with the company line and other times it doesn’t. For example, the delivery service DHL has a very established brand position – that of being unreliable and only used by companies that will tolerate bad service to save a few bucks. DHL is spending millions on advertising trying to convince customers that this well established brand is wrong.

Slogans are a Brand Moniker, Not a Brand
Slogans are an add-on to a strong brand position. They are meant to encapsulate and heighten the branding’s core emotional drivers.

-Nike has a brand of tenacity and perseverance. Its slogan is “Just do it.”

-Best Buy has a brand of helpful advice and making the complex simple. Its slogan is, “Thousands of possibilities. Get yours.”

-Motorola has a brand of cool and hip style that connects people in innovative new ways. Its slogan is “Hello Moto.”

So test your brand….

One on one, ask each person in your department to describe the station’s brand position in two sentences or less. If the person recites the slogan line back to you, ask them “what does that really mean?” Listen carefully to the things they include, and even more importantly, the things they leave out. Here is what to look for:

1) Do you hear consistency from the entire staff?

Do you get many different answers or is the staff accurately describing your brand position? Most people will simply repeat your slogan, but not understand the meaning behind the phrase.

2) How quickly do they answer?

Does it roll right off their tongue or do they struggle to figure it out?

3) Do you get different answers from different departments?

Does the newsroom have one view of the station and the promotion department has another? What about sales, engineering and production?

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.

Do You Have a True News Brand or Just a Slogan?

Highlights:
-Very specific slogans are great for brand focus but often lack versatility.
-General slogans allow brands to easily transition but often foster vagueness.
-Don’t rely on a slogan to carry a brand.
-You shouldn’t brand a product. Instead, create a product that is a demonstration of the brand.

In the old sitcom “Bewitched” the heroine’s husband, Darrin Stevens, worked at an ad agency and many of the episodes showed him and his wonderful wife Samantha, teaming up to come up with that pef phrase and all your marketing woes will be solved. This same mindset still lives on in a lot of television newsrooms around the country.

Slogans can be divided into two main categories:
1) Those that promote product attributes.
2) Those that promote emotional attachment.

The best slogans will do both.

For example, New Balance has a product brand slogan, “Fit for you, fit for your sport.” Their athletic shoes come in narrow and wide sizes, so their brand is all about the perfect fit. Conversely, Nike has an emotional brand slogan with, “Just Do It.” While they do specific product advertising, the main focus of their brand is the emotion. They put a priority on attaching emotion to the product through imagery of tenacity and perseverance. You will rarely see shots of shoes appear in their ads.

Most television stations have product attribute slogans that describe their coverage priority:
Coverage You Can Count On
Live, Local, Late Breaking
Digging Deeper
Where the News Comes First
The Weather Authority
On Your Side
Your Jaguars Station

Typically, these slogans showcase a specific news component, such as weather, breaking coverage or investigations.

Product attribute slogans can be further divided into two subcategories. Those that have a literal interpretation and those that have a vague interpretation.

Literal Slogans

A literal slogan leaves the customer with a clear understanding of the specific product attribute that will be featured in the newscast. This can be a specific segment such as weather, or a particular reporting style such as “fast and breaking.” Each of these slogans leaves you with a clear understanding of the station’s priority. For example:
Live, Local, Late Breaking
More News, Less Crime
Your Investigation Station
Standing Up for Working Class Families
Everywhere

After reading these literal slogans, you quickly understand what the station is all about. Literal slogans can be both a blessing and a curse. They are ideal for products just starting or changing a brand. Their clear meaning easily conveys the essence of the brand in just a few words. The station can hammer away at that one attribute and more quickly win mind share. Literal slogans are very popular and very effective for television news because many stations constantly change their brand and their slogan line.

The problem with literal slogans comes after you get a little success under your belt. Let’s say the station spends a few years pounding away at the message that it is the “breaking news” station. Its consistency wins mind share and gains preference. It did a good job of winning all the hearts of breaking news buffs in the market, but now it needs to grow its product. Problem is, there aren’t a lot more breaking news buffs left to convert, so continuing to pound home the breaking news message isn’t going to win it a lot more converts. What does it do now? Its entire branding campaign is about breaking news. It must now change the slogan and transition the brand – a very painful and slow process.

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.

Avoid ‘How You Can Help’ Promos

Using teases and promos to enroll a viewer’s public assistance will usually make for a weak tease. For example, a family loses everything in a fire. The promo promises, “How you can help this family get back on their feet.” The viewer expects the typical answer will be “give money.” Now, this information is appropriate inside a news story, but it’s not a motivating force to get a viewer to return from the break.

This approach is also very common in crime stories. We’ll tease, “How you can help police catch this criminal.” Of course the answer is: “If you’ve seen him, call the cops.” Another variation, “How you could help catch this thief and put money in your pocket.” The answer…turn him in and get the reward. How many people in our audience are thinking to themselves, “I just happen to know a few murderers, and I sure could use some money. I’m gonna watch and cash in!” Instead, promise the interesting story details about the crime. Don’t use promos to enroll public assistance. Save that information for the story.

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.

How to Build the Ultimately Actionable Research Study

Highlights:
-Don’t start a research project by asking “What do I want to know?” Start by asking, “What am I hoping to change?”
-Great research starts with a fearless inventory of what you can’t or won’t change.
-For each survey question ask, “What specific action will this answer empower me to take?”

Most research studies can be broken down into two camps. There are tracking studies that tell you how you’re doing, then there are action studies that tell you where you should go. I’ve always been a fan of the latter. Far too many research studies simply make the managers feel better, but have little information that can guide real change.

Zero-Base Your Questionnaire
Every question eats up valuable time and costs a lot of money. By zero-basing a survey, you eliminate the temptation to rehash old questions. Plus, you force the research company to come up with an un-recycled list of questions, specific to your individual needs.

Don’t let the research company start the research process and thus set the agenda. You should lead the charge and clearly set an expectation for simplicity and actionability. Start by sending the research company a complete list of “here is what this survey needs to reveal.” Be actively involved in creating all the questions.

Don’t Look Back, Look Forward
It sounds rudimentary, but far too many survey’s begin with the fuzzy goal of finding out, “How are we doing?” Finding out if you’re on the right track can be valuable, but will this kind of information empower your team to step forward boldly? Research dollars are too precious to merely affirm past tactics. Great studies provide critical information for next tactics. You want to cold-bloodedly eliminate unactionable questions so your research can be the catalyst for decisive action and groundbreaking change.

Just Interesting or Truly Actionable?
Great research projects don’t start with the question, “What do I want to know?” They start with the question, “What am I hoping to change?” Then, the questions methodically provide the data necessary to facilitate that change.

If you inventory a lot of research studies, you’ll find questions that yield interesting information, but the management team cannot take any action based on the results of that question. If you are researching something you won’t or can’t change, then that goal should be eliminated from the survey.

On a recent survey, I saw the question, “Who has the most quality show?” If the results come back that it’s your show, what would you do with that information? If the results come back that it’s your competitor’s show, what specific action would you take? While it is nice to know the perception of your show, this kind of information does little to facilitate improvement. It is nice to know, but what action would the question facilitate?

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.

Workflow Strategies to Optimize Social Media Marketing

Highlights:
-Lack of workflow systems are what stop many marketers from using social media marketing.
-Social media marketing’s unpredictability requires a shift away from a planning culture and into a real-time maintenance culture.
-Traditional media’s greatest strength is powerful reach. But many companies are paying a premium for this reach when they don’t really need it.

Social media is like custard
Social networking is one of the most powerful and low-cost advertising tools around. Unfortunately, many marketing professionals shy away from this powerful tool because of lack of familiarity and the radically different workflow it requires. Cooking up a marketing campaign for traditional media is more like baking a souffl, and new social media marketing is much more like creating a rich custard.

Creating a souffl requires a rich flurry of activity right at the onset. All the ingredients must be skillfully combined in the right proportions, then whipped up and blended with just the right flare. But once you pour the mixture into the pan and stick it in the oven, your work is done. It is either going to rise correctly or it’s not, but messing with it any further is only going to lessen the chances of success.

The misguided “campaign” workflow
Most marketers have built their careers around this kind of set-it-and- forget-it workflow style. In one gigantic flurry of action, they research, set campaign goals, produce commercials, and make large media buys. Then, they send their baby out into the ad world, and wait to hear if it was a success or failure. There is a tremendous amount of preparation, but little focus on follow-through. Generally, the work is considered finished when it hits the presses or airs on TV. Most marketers are passive bystanders when the campaign is actually doing its job.

But social media is much more like cooking up a custard. Sure, the cook must carefully purchase and mix the right ingredients, but the real skill comes in the actual cooking, not just the preparation. A great custard is a journey, not a destination. The cook is an active participant in every step of the process.

The same is true of social media marketing. Today’s powerful tools make it easy to get started, but the real skill comes with managing the conversation and reinventing on-the-fly. The greatest challenges in social networking don’t come in the preparation stage, but after the campaign has been ingested, commented on, and changed by frontline customers.

Social media’s maddening unpredictability
Frankly, most advertising executives hate this about social media. They like the traditional media way a lot better. The campaigns are just so…big and important. They get to spend a lot of money. They get to indulge their creative side. They are creating art, a masterpiece for the creative world to behold. When they finish their efforts, there are tangible components to show off. They have great creative to show the boss, ingenious media buys with pie charts and statistics, and launch events with big fun props.

Most marketing professionals have never fully embraced social media because it is so maddeningly freeform. The props of traditional media advertising reassure both the bosses and themselves that they are on the job, and getting goals accomplished. When the boss asks how the campaign is going, it is just not as fulfilling to say “well lots of people are talking about us.” The tangible mind candy of a clever radio spot, or a graphic-laden media plan makes the marketing team look productive and successful, before the first ad ever airs.

Social media has much less fanfare. It starts with a great plan, but typically that plan will be continually changed or even jettisoned once the customer feedback starts rolling in. Because social media is a conversation, it can go anywhere . Or as a famous Prussian general once said, “No campaign plan survives first contact with the enemy.” This infuriating unpredictability is the very essence of social media marketing.

Most marketers love the order and cleanliness that comes with creating advertising campaigns without too much feedback. They don’t like the unpredictable dodge-and-weave, thrill ride that characterizes most social media marketing.

Social media is the most powerful marketing tool to arise in generations. But if you hope to step into its full potential, it will be necessary to change your thinking, and that starts by changing the very structure of your workflow.

Here are six reason why you should move into social media marketing in a big way.

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.

The Netflix Effect: How New Databases are Changing Channel Branding

Highlights:
-Traditional media branding strategies tend to stereotype customers and miss true motivations.
-Powerful new customer databases make attitude targeting the best new opportunity.
-In the future more cable channels will be programming for attitude and mindset, not just content preference.

Read part one of this series on brand expansion here.

What are they thinking?

It just seems like foolhardy brand dilution. History is running a competition show, Top Shots. Cartoon Network has a scripted live-action series, Unnatural History. But the next generation of powerful audience targeting tools has arrived and what seems like lack of brand focus is actually the first exciting steps in what will be a new marketing paradigm.

Why the abandonment of traditional TV marketing structure? The simple truth is that experienced programmers are finding that the old programming-based, content-genre strategy, just doesn’t work very well. In a world of hundreds of cable channels, many of them virtually identical to competitors, the appeal of specific program genres is diminishing. In the viral world of social networks, texting, and instant communication, hit shows are generating the most buzz and turning a disdainful public’s head. Collections of many average shows, build around a specific content niche just can’t generate the same kind of buzz as big whomping hits that gets tongues wagging and sampling happening.

The Stereotype Model of Advertising

Our current TV landscape was built using the old advertising model the stereotype paradigm. Understanding big groups of people is really tough. Though we try hard not to, all of us rely on stereotypes to keep the people we meet in some sort of mentally comprehensible order. Take a look at this list and identify the stereotypes you use with each of these groups:

Mexicans
Actors
Mothers
Democrats
Gardeners
Soccer Players

It’s just easier to think of all actors as slightly insecure, artsy-types, in need of validation. But these sweeping generalizations dont work well in life and they dont work well in the world of marketing either.

Since its inception, the media world has relied on this inefficient stereotype system as a foundation. A typical ad campaign might be targeted to “mothers in their 30s.” Ask the creative team to define a creative approach for this demographic and you will see the stereotypes take wing. The clichd imagery will probably include hackneyed scenes of mini-vans, harried schedules, tender hugs in the kitchen, and bargain shopping. Yet most moms don’t drive minivans.

This oversimplification gets us off the creative hook. By defining moms with a single amorphous clich, the creative and media buying tasks now become manageable.

Why has it always been done this way? Because it was the only option. This was the way media outlets were constructed. Magazines, TV, radio and all media organized their businesses by defining a specific audience niche, then hyper-served that niche.

They created a walled garden that served one very specific aspect of a customer’s life and ignored everything else. The Wall Street Journal was for high-powered executives. Animal Planet was for animal lovers. We was for women. There were lots of high-powered, women executives who loved animals, but this kind of advertising cross-pollination just wasn’t practical. It was too small an audience to go after–that is, until now.

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.

When Diluting your TV Brand is the Best Strategy

Highlights
-Brand expansion is the most viable growth option for many TV channels.
-What appears to be short-sighted brand dilution is actually a strategic long-term growth strategy.
-Classic Madison Avenue brand-expansion strategy is the best teacher for those of us in TV.

Blatant Brand Dilution?

For a generation the rules of TV branding have been clear and unequivocalfind a specific niche audience, then hyper-serve that niche with specialized programming. But lately, that rule has been turned on its head by some of the industries most powerful players. Now you will find cooking shows on the Syfy Channel, Mike Tyson on Animal Planet, standup comedians on History, and obsession-disorder reality shows on VH1.

Whats going on? After a generation of building specific content niches, programmers now have their sights set on broader audiences. It appears that TV history is reversing itself. Television begin with three broad channels, then splintered to hundreds of content-specific cable networks. Now those same niche cable channels are rushing to widen their audiences again by expanding beyond their original content agenda.

But what appears to be blatant brand dilution is actually just a snapshot in a very long-term, strategic strategy that has been going on in the product world for decades. It is a text-book example of how small brands get bigger. It is a classic strategy practiced by powerhouse brands like Proctor & Gamble, Virgin and American Express.

Smart Brand Expansion Strategies from the Cable World

SciFi’s recent rebrand to SyFy is a classic example of this strategic brand expansion. After spending years doing all they could to nurture and woo the science fiction audience, the programmers realized that the genre was maxed out. No matter how great their marketing, there just weren’t enough people interested in science fiction to allow much further growth. SciFi was forced to make a hard decision–be content with paltry growth or expand its original programming mission to bring in new audiences.

Discovery, one of today’s most successful channels, went through this same dilemma decades ago. When Discovery launched, it was a hard science channel filled with documentaries on everything from wildlife to astronomy to anthropology. Today, it has kept its science heritage, but has methodically and patiently rebranded itself as an adventure channel. It went from hard science, to softer science, to softer science with adventure, to where it is today–an adventure channel with a science heritage.

So what appears to be brand dilution on the surface is actually a very natural and necessary step that most successful brands will weather through the years. Coke started out as a cola company and today has expanded into all things beverage. American Express started out as a credit card company and has redefined itself as a travel companion.

Disney began as an animation studio and expanded into all things entertainment. Many in the industry thought Walt Disney had lost his mind when they saw him getting into the seemingly unrelated industry of amusement parks. Walt saw that the market for movie-house cartoons was dying. People were getting their entertainment in new ways. Walt didnt see himself as just an animator . He saw himself as an entertainer and skillfully guided his company to become the pre-eminent entertainment company in the world.

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.

Don’t Refer to People as Objects

One of the primary goals of teases and news stories is to create a sense of personal connection with the heroes, villains and other main characters in any daily show. Just like a prime drama or blockbuster movie, we want our characters to come alive. However, many times our writers refer to people as objects instead of real-life fascinating individuals.

Treat People Like Human Beings

Motivating viewers to care about the main characters of a story starts with the teases and continues into the package. Too many producers are so busy trying to maintain objectivity that they manage to suck all the life out of the fascinating real-life people who show up on the news every night. This often starts with the very words they use to describe these people in our stories. When they use words like “occupants,” they objectify the main characters of the drama they’re attempting to create. Who wants to hear from a “resident?” I just don’t care about these faceless individuals who are part of an indeterminate herd.

Imagine a primetime drama promo that referred to its main character as “a local policeman,” or a comedy that promoted its star as “a suburban woman.”

Be Especially Careful When Referring to Large Groups

It is hard to feel a connection with “citizens” or “a community.” If you want me to care about the people in the story, refer to them as human beings, not an amorphous crowd. It is very hard to empathize with an “occupant of a dwelling.”

Avoid: “The residents of this community.”
Better: “The families who live on this block.”
Avoid: “A Louisville woman was attacked.”
Better: “Jenny Lewis from Louisville was attacked.”

Don’t hesitate to use people’s names, particularly first names. This is especially important for stories where you want viewers to identify with the characters in a drama. “This woman’s fight with cancer” is not as connecting as “Jenny’s fight with cancer.” Where appropriate, get friendly, get personal. Just like a good novel, build a personal story around the fascinating characters in your drama. Watch for these words in your copy and turn these abstract groups into warm, flesh-and-blood people:

community
resident
citizen
public
populace
township
occupant
dwelling
inhabitant
tenant
visitor
district
locality
territory
parish
precinct
population
municipality
region
vicinity
zone
locale
society

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.

Thin Line Between Informing and Annoying

Highlights
-Too many companies use a blog strategy when posting content on social networks.
-Over-posting will quickly get you unfriended, forever ending your online relationship.
-Posting less often is perfectly okay in social networking.
-Give all your posts the “re-post test.” Is it good enough that your fans will re-tweet?

Social Networking – the less demanding blog

Ten years ago, blogs were the rage. Everyone from the CEO to the custodian launched one, chronicling every scintillating step of their daily routine. But the harsh reality of blog life quickly became evident. They take a lot of time and a lot of energy. After this initial flurry, posts became more sporadic. Then, most casual bloggers finally gave up.

But a savior was on the horizon – social networks. Now, you could let the world know about your life without the exhausting toil of creating your own content. Drop a tweet about an interesting article, or solicit advice on a conundrum in Facebook. These new tools made it easy to painlessly communicate with thousands of people simultaneously.

Social Network Posting is Different

A lot of companies are making a big mistake with social networking. They are applying the outdated rules of blogging to the very different medium of social networks.

In the blogging world, one of the most egregious sins is lack of content. A blog with a lot of white space is unforgiveable. A glance at a blog instantly delivers a scorecard on that person’s productivity. The number of posts is clearly laid out, along with the dates of the most recent updates. While quality is always in important component for any blog, there is also an expectation of volume and timeliness . Great blogs show their passion with frequent posts and continual updates.

But the same is not true of social networking. There is no white space on anyone’s Facebook Friend Feed. Most of us have scores of friends who we follow and we rarely visit our friend’s Facebook homepage. We use our newsfeed to track the activities of all our friends and it will always be full. If one friend does not post for awhile, another friend’s post will be right there to fill in the gap. This means sporadic posting is less noticeable. Because we all have so many friends on our feeds, we tend not to notice if a specific person hasn’t posted in awhile.

So quality , timeliness and volume are the foundation of great blogging. However, only two of these make the cut for social networking – quality and timeliness . Volume becomes less important, and can even become a liability.

Productivity Will Be Punished

Few people have ever stopped following a blog because it contained too many posts, but the same is not true of social networks. None of us want one person monopolizing our Twitter feed. We want a little bit from a lot of different people. If anyone posts too many times on a Facebook newsfeed, bam! They’ll be dropped as a friend, or their buddy will press the “hide” button, effectively silencing their chatter forever. One mistake can get them banished, and once they’re on that “hide person” list, they probably won’t get a second chance.

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.

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