6 Ways To Maximize Your Station's App Strategy

The value of a smart app strategy can’t be overlooked. When viewers download your station’s app, they are granting you access to their lives 24/7. You have the opportunity to engage with them at work, while they’re in the line at the grocery store and when they’re trying to figure out what to watch on television or what new website to visit. Access = opportunity.

So while users have granted you this prized access, how are you best taking advantage of it? Are you entertaining them? Informing them? Or just broadcasting to them?

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Question, a fine line between engaging users and spamming them. Given the nature of the news business, it’s difficult to predict how often your station will send push notifications to your users throughout the course of the day. 

If you’re aggressive with your app alerts in the morning and have a breaking news event later in the day, you run the risk of alienating your users and annoying them. If you have a slow news day, your app strategy runs the risk of coming off as one big promotional vehicle with overt calls-to-action to “TUNE IN!” or “WATCH AT 6!”

Finding the right balance and managing that is not easy. We all have different and unique strategies.

Let’s move the discussion beyond the frequency of the push notifications and alerts. Let’s focus on the quality of the alerts and deliver a more substantial experience by experimenting with variety, tone and the context of them.

Don’t Just Broadcast….Offer More
When pushing news and information on your app, take advantage of the real estate you have on your viewers mobile device.
Offer more along the lines of:

  • = Additional information
  • = Context to the story
  • = Why your viewers should care


Muhammad Ali’s death is a prime example of this. I received dozens of app alerts like the one you see above. This was a missed opportunity to tease additional coverage, offer more information on Ali or encourage viewers to dive into the app to see some of Ali’s most famous quotes or pictures from his fights. 

A more robust alert could have read: “BREAKING: Muhammad Ali has died at the age of 74. We have a special report on Ali NOW on ZXYW”

It’s a small tweak but delivers a more robust alert.

Tone of Your Post
Consider the tone of your posts. They don’t all need to be breaking news notifications, which most news app alerts are.

Get creative with them. Offer some context. These app alerts from Phoenix’s KNXV set the tone of the alert immediately.

Consider asking a question to get your viewers thinking. Asking questions versus posting straight news notifications can inform your users while also getting them thinking and swiping to dive further into a story.

Compelling Teases
Teasing your upcoming broadcast is one of the most powerful strategies you can employ when it comes to your app. That 10-15 minute window before each newscast is a huge opportunity. Many viewers, particularly early in the morning or later in the day, have their phones with them. Take advantage of that by producing quality teases to your upcoming shows.

The key is going beyond the “WATCH AT 10!” alert. Compel viewers to tune in. 

 Staying true to their engaging tone, KNXV’s Jody Arias app alert sets the bar for a compelling tease . You can’t help but tune in or set the DVR to see the full story. 

Weather presents a strong opportunity to tease.


This alert from Denver’s KMGH sets the tone, communicates information and teases the 10pm show.

Get Visual
At some point we will start seeing images in app alerts. Whether it is still photos from reporters on a scene or 10 seconds of a photographer’s video, there is an unmet opportunity to get visual with push notifications. 

You still have the option to create a visually compelling app alert by using emojis. Yes, emojis. While no station wants to look like my teenage babysitter, you can have some fun with this. Emojis work well for weather notifications, sports alerts and feature stories.


This alert from Buzzfeed News illustrates this. The tone is irreverent and they have some fun with the Queen Bee emoji. Yes, it’s Buzzfeed, but you can do this, too.


Sports alerts also create an opportunity to get visual. I manipulated this sports alert to include a basketball logo and some flames. While it likely won’t shatter engagement records, it’s a bit more visually compelling. 


This post from Dayton Daily News works on a number of levels. It asks a question we know that a number of people are asking around Mother’s Day. It offers a visually compelling element and offers a solution. It also creatively takes advantage of every piece of app real estate. 

Don’t Forget The CTA
Occasionally, app users need gentle reminders of what it is you want them to do. Watch the upcoming show? Swipe into the app? 

Again, it’s that fine line because you don’t want to bombard your users with reminders to “TAP FOR MORE”. Offering contextual calls-to-action is a smart way to prompt them to engage with your brand.


Tampa Bay’s WFTS offers an emoji reminder to dive deeper into this weather story in their app.

Be creative about asking viewers to swipe or enter the app.


Each of these two examples from KXNV is asking viewers to access the app for more information but does so in a way that is original and not redundant.


WLOX’s notification offers an overt tease to tune into “Prepare South Mississippi” to learn valuable information that can help viewers. 

Give Them Options
Your app affords you the privilege of communicating with your viewers beyond traditional TV broadcasts. You don’t want to lose that privilege by having those users dismantle your push notifications or delete your app altogether because it’s not delivering the best experience for them.

Let your viewers customize their app so that it serves them. Can they temporarily mute notifications about certain events (ex.: such as a sporting event for people who want to watch a game on-demand)? Do you offer the option to customize the sound a particular type of notification makes so that they will know what it is? 

Consider what your viewers want and let them create an app that is truly customized for them.

The Takeaway
We are getting more mobile by the day. Apps and mobile news delivery are becoming more crucial to our overall broadcasting strategy.

Take advantage of the intimacy and immediacy your app affords your station but do so intelligently. It’s all about adding value and providing information that’s relevant to your users. Doing this will help drive them to you on multiple platforms.