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Andrew Finlayson's Articles

Super Bowl 2017 Coverate Strategies for FOX Affiliates

For Fox stations, the Super Bowl is a rare opportunity to create an a multiple day broadcast event.  Instead of thinking of the game as a several hours of programming from Fox on their air, leading Fox stations take the opportunity to create an experience that demands viewers watch and participate in the days leading up to and during the game an event that feels very much like the station is presenting the Super Bowl.

Super Reach
Think of the game as a chance to have a Super Reach of your station on all platforms over the course of a week.  Having the digital and social team join the conversation now can make sure that they have an hour by hour and minute by minute schedule for the game on all platforms.  We can grow your ratings but also your reach on social media and the reach of your website and apps if they are fully integrated into the experience we are offering the viewers.

Super Engagement
We should never assume that people will watch the game.  If the season so far has demonstrated one concern, it is that even live NFL games increasingly have to compete against other media on other platforms.  To have full engagement with the broadcast and tune in by even the most casual fan, we need to speak to three phases of engagement that we would like to create:

Anticipation:  Content on all screens that builds up interest in the teams, the players, the coaches and the cities involved in the big game.

Participation:  Content that is built in advance but is flexible enough to be posted as the national anthem is sung, as the fly over occurs,  game begins, during key plays, big scores, half time, trending topics, and the game ending.

Congratulation:  Content that is ready to go for the winning team, coach, MVP and others who had success during this game.  Your station can be part of the happy feelings of those whose favorite team won the game.

Inauguration Coverage 2017 - Content and Concept Ideas

Here are some content and presentation concepts for your inauguration coverage to consider.

1. What is the official government delegation from your state that will be in attendance? Which elected officials are Trump supporters and will get the best seats?
2. Who are the influencers from your region that are going: the religious leaders, the bloggers, the local radio station or print reporters who might be part of your coverage?
3. Who are the “forgotten” people who are going; we can imagine busloads of people in red hats leaving from all points of the country to be in DC for this historic event
4. Other local or regional organizations and groups that will be going…
a. Church groups
b. Schools
c. Civic organization (Which may include veteran’s groups, abortion opponents, gun rights, and others who are enthusiastic about a Trump presidency)
d. Republican party supporters
e. Protesters (who will likely be put into special areas to protest)
f. Security teams (your local police/FBI office/Fire/National Guard etc. may be deployed to the DC area)
5. Which businesses from your region are going to be involved; business people might be going but also they might be providing t-shirts or providing food/gifts to the people at the inauguration

Winning Super Bowl 50 On All Screens

Winning Super Bowl 50 On All Screens

“We are putting the full weight of the company behind everything surrounding the game” Les Moonves

With the Super Bowl returning to CBS, as Mr. Moonves indicated in the above quote, a full team effort is underway. Starting Monday February 1st, CBS has announced it will have around the clock coverage of the Super Bowl on all CBS platforms from on air radio and TV to cable and digital.

The Super Bowl can also be an important opportunity for CBS stations to grow their audiences during this same time period and beyond.

There are three ambitions that a concrete three screen Super Bowl plan can help a station achieve:

Holiday App Marketing

The value of the holidays in marketing apps is clear. The period from mid December through early January is, according to Apple, traditionally one of the most active in the app stores. During the holidays many people receive gifts of new mobile devices or iTunes/Google play gift cards. When each of those new phones, tablets or gift cards are activated, station apps can be top of mind, leading to downloads and daily activity.

The leader of the station app download effort, be it digital, news or promotion can establish the benchmark of where the app downloads and monthly active users for the family of station apps. With those numbers in mind, the station team can define new goals for growth in the weeks ahead. A strong six part plan can lead to a significant increase in app downloads and long term customer connections.

1. Look Like The Holidays
An easy starting point is to “decorate” your apps and app marketing experience with imagery and language that speaks to the holidays.

2. Leverage Your Station Inventory
Those images and promotional concepts can be offered across all platforms. Social media posts, social media ads, website ads, and promos on air can all be coordinated to give the maximum impact. With a drop in demand for TV inventory at some stations right after Christmas, there can often be an opportunity to leverage the station’s air time to help encourage downloads.

The Rise of Instagram

Instagram’s explosive growth has led many newsrooms to wonder what is the effort that they should make with this image sharing social platform.   The fundamental question: is it worth dedicating resources to maintaining a strong and consistent presence on this social media platform vs. other platforms that generate website visits?  Given that Instagram acts as a walled garden and doesn’t offer a direct link to other newsroom properties, many news organizations have shied away from making Instagram a big effort.   

SmithGeiger has dedicated significant resources to understanding this new world of “visual social” and how Instagram can help your team grow your reach, reputation, ratings and revenue.  

The Basics
The platform was one of many photo sharing applications created in 2010.  The elegance of the design elevated the appeal of Instagram which lead to the purchase by Facebook for a billion dollars.  Since the very first days the platform has been a favorite of teens and millennials (although the mobile first experience has widened its appeal considerably) with engagement with millions of images and billions of likes every day.  Four hundred million users gives Instagram an international audience that includes many mobile consumers in your market.

Are Your Fall Premiere Efforts "Pixel Perfect"?

The approach of Labor Day promises more than the end of summer time activities. It signals the beginning of the fall premieres. The audience has many choices not just in what programs they might watch but where and when they might watch them. For a successful fall for a TV station, the station leadership team needs to craft a three screen plan to build anticipation, help support audience conversations and generate audience participation around key prime time programs using all the screens the audience uses.

As stations plan fall promotional efforts, we can all learn from stations that make sure they are using every one of their 16:9 pixels on their main TV signal. While many of these promotional concepts are tried and true, being aggressive and consistent with one message across all dayparts using every pixel can help make sure audiences are aware and interested in new and returning programs. While radio, cable and digital out of home buys can be valuable parts of a station’s fall premiere schedule, in today’s challenging economic conditions, it is best to look to the platforms they control. These “owned” platforms include the station’s TV signal, digital platforms and social media accounts which when combined can create a strong sense that the station has something of importance on their air.

Back to School Story Ideas

As you plan your Back to School coverage, here's a quick list of some stories that can help build-out your newscasts or digital efforts...

  • Which schools are the safest and which have the greatest crime issues (a set of stats that each school district generates)
  • Which schools are the highest quality and which are struggling (a set of stats that each school district generates related to No Child Left Behind)
  • Which schools pay the most (based on average salaries of school teachers, superintendents and so on)
  • Which shots are needed (a back to school health review of what is needed for each district and new health concerns this year)

Smart Watches? Maybe… Glance Media? Absolutely!

Hardly a day goes by without the announcement of one news or media organization positioning themselves to be one of the first with an app that works on the Apple watch. This post is not about the watch so much as it is the recognition of a changing ecosystem for news and information that takes another step forward with the arrival of the watch. For while the watch might be restricted to a subset of the affluent and super connected at first, a concept called glance media is very much an essential skill for any newsroom.

Apps For The Watch
The Weather Company, Dark Sky and other weather vendors have been among the most outspoken app creators speaking about their intent to offer apps built from scratch for the Apple watch. CNN, The New York Times and even the Economist, famous for their lengthy analysis of world affairs, plans to be available in some version on this new watch. Each of these news organizations sees a value in being able to quickly alert the audience to a short update or a piece of a larger story. The ability to “tap” the audience on the wrist and draw attention to a notification without the user doing anything outside of the audience looking down is a powerful new tool in the fight for the audience’s attention.

Oscars Tips 2015

The Oscars is the annual “big story” happening live on ABC affiliates. ABC stations can think of this as not just a one night broadcast but a multiple day party across multiple platforms.

Your goal can be to grow the ratings of the Oscars but we can also look to growing the shoulder programming around the event including the morning newscast the next day as well as growth of our digital and social engagement with the audience as they watch this event with their smart phone or tablet. GMA often has one of their bigger ratings days so there is a unique opportunity to retain much of the audience to your am efforts on all screens.

Win Weather on All Screens - Checklist

We all know how weather is a critical part of our success in local TV news and increasingly a key ingredient in the information we offer in social and mobile. As we start 2015, we should ask ourselves if we have reviewed our three screen weather recently for how well we living up to our promises of urgency and impact that we keep in our on air news stories. If we have made a commitment to bringing the viewer the most up to the minute, live, and impactful information in the lead story, the same effort should be made with weather, which one can argue, is a never ending local breaking news story on all screens.

A check list can help the team discuss what we will do together to win weather on all screens. This series of questions are meant to help focus everyone…producer, anchor, weather, director, social media manager and digital producer… It is not just for the weather to create all this value…it is the station team.