Olympics Strategy: Top 10 for Non-NBC Stations

It's the middle of summer. Vacation-season is in full swing. And now the Olympics are back - but not on my station. Time to raise the white flag?  Absolutely not!

In fact, it's a great opportunity to make some headway on your NBC foe in the market, reminding consumers that you - as the news leader - will never compromise live coverage of breaking news and weather for the gold medal round of... handball (we actually like handball, but like disruptive weather better).

Our team at SmithGeiger has compiled a Top 10 list of tactical and strategic initiatives for non-NBC stations during the Summer Games:

  1. Own News When They Can't: the Games will pre-empt most 4pm, 10pm, and 11pm newscasts on NBC stations.  (See the NBC Coverage Plan here).  If there's breaking news or weather, go all-in during these newscasts.  See bullets 4, 5, and 6 below for digital ideas on how to remind consumers a station in the market won't make you wait for news.
  2. Be Better Competitively: in the AM and Early Evening time periods, we'll still be head-to-head with the local NBC station, but while they're caught-up in long live shots, talk-backs, feature profiles, and highlights from Rio, let's hammer-home the news of the day.  Be sure we're loaded with live reporters, breaking news, and a constant promise of weather coverage, especially in those A-blocks.
  3. Hold Our Morning Ground: we always hear notions of an "Olympics halo" that helps an NBC-station the next morning.  Not true, at least not consistently during the 2014 Games.  Make the AM newscast your priority during the Olympics, as it likely is every single day, and simply put: plan on winning with great, consistent coverage.
  4. Alert, Alert, Alert: if you don't already have a smart and aggressive digital alerting strategy in place, spend the next month ramping it up.  If you do have a plan in place, double-down. Most people will be watching the Olympics with their phones in their hands. Keep your brand front-and-center with Push Notifications, not only alerting consumers to breaking news and weather, but also directing them to watch the live newscast or stream in the App, or on television.  We don't want these to look like topical teases or marketing messages.  Content is the priority, but as Dr. Seth Geiger says: "don't create a digital cul-de-sac. Include a call-to-action in these alerts."
  5. Social: the Olympics chatter on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter will be voluminous. Certainly don't ignore the Olympics.  Root for Team USA and your local athletes.  Use Olympics hashtags.  Also use this platform to remind people we're covering the critical news events of the day with frequent, engaging, news-oriented posts. (See our top tactics here). And if you have any TSRs or other big stories, consider promoting certain posts and targeting people who Follow or Like the various Olympics and NBC pages and feeds.
  6. Email? Yes, Email: don't deny it. You know you check your inbox(es) around-the-clock. In fact, you might be addicted to it. And new research shows it can still be a very effective alerting mechanism for news events and coverage. Get those email lists ready and be sure we're sending out updates with a higher-than-usual frequency when content warrants.
  7. Be Bold In Our Late News Messaging: sometimes being direct with your audience is the best play. Consider copy points or a spot with this type of messaging: "At a time when the world's best athletes are striving for gold, we know you might change the channel to watch. But one thing that won't change: we'll be here at 10p/11p every night to help you get caught-up on breaking news and weather for your day ahead. Give us 10-minutes tonight, be ready for your tomorrow. We won't make you wait."
  8. Check Your Inventory: if your commercial inventory is light due to the Olympics, use this time to flood the breaks with your Breaking News and/or Weather position, with frequent, multiple image spots and even proof-of-performance spots when relevant.
  9. Bring Them Back: prepare now a full slate of promos (and even TSRs) to win back your audience right as the Olympics end, helping build momentum with the Fall season just a few weeks away.
  10. Be a Fan: respect the Olympics. It's an amazing 19-day event, and something everyone loves. Be competitive with our coverage, but in our tone, acknowledge that we should all be cheering-on the world's best athletes. And while we do that, our brand, station, and team will also be watching out for the news that impacts you.