Winning in Today's Media Landscape

October 22, 2019

Are you a Disruptor?

Do you want to be number one in television news? It is harder today than ever before. The number of sources for news is vast. I have apps from 18 stations across the nation plus ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CNN, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.  I am unusual because I am in the media business. But I still represent the problem. If you are a television station or network, I DON’T NEED YOU. In that regard, I am not unusual.

You need to make me value you if you want to be a winner. Subtle improvements to a linear newscast will produce zero results. Assuming you have all the basics down, you can change graphics, relocate your studio, and/or change anchors. The results will still be zero. You may improve by a tenth of a demo point or two. But that is well within Nielsen’s margin of error.

If you want to win, you must be a disruptor! The changes you need to make must be dramatic. If that is a scary thought, it shouldn’t be. Before you start making dramatic shifts, you must really know what moves your audience. That takes a very different kind of research. The data must present a clear picture of viewers’ hopes, concerns, and fears. Listen carefully, and they will tell you what makes them angry, happy, sad, and secure. The right research gives you a snapshot of a viewer’s soul. If it does not, you just wasted your money.

Armed with that information you can start to formulate a position that will be dramatically different from whatever your competition is doing. More importantly, it will be more relevant to the viewers’ lives than any other source.

The most obvious example of a disruption that is very successful is FOX News. You may like it or hate it, but it is a voice for people who did not have one before. Why does FOX win? It is not because it has more viewers than CNN. FOX wins because its viewers watch longer….a lot longer.

That brings us to picking a target audience. The largest target audience will have less to do with geography, and will be more focused on the common core values that the greatest number of people (Adults 25-54) hold. That is why it is so important to do non-traditional research.

Changing the rules is based on a logical progression:

  1. Understand the viewers’ core values and beliefs.
  2. Focus on the largest group of viewers with similar beliefs.
  3. Discuss several internal position statements that resonate with your target audience.
  4. Choose the position that you can execute and feel passionate about. Then execute your position in every newscast every day.

Position statements and mission statements are different. Position statement focus only on what you do and how you “feel”.

Here is an example from a rust belt city. The viewers were tired being a national joke, and were disgusted with broken promises from politicians, businesses leaders and union representatives.

"WTTT is the station that holds people in power accountable. We ask tough questions and keep asking them until we get honest answers and viable solutions. We are relentless and do not care what the powerful think of us".

This is a station that was banned from County Council meetings. Actually they were banned for only one meeting, because the station launched a massive marketing campaign. It told the viewers an ugly truth. The station was banned because the County Executive did not want to answer the tough questions about issues that concerned the viewers.

In less than two years this station went from third place to first in every newscast. Why? It became an advocate when no other station was. It picked a position that touched important viewer frustrations. It picked a side, and it represented viewers. It changed the rules.

Subtlety will get you nowhere. Know your audience. Think big and act boldly.


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