Olympic Strategy: Top 10 for NBC Stations

As an NBC station the Road to Rio will provide great opportunities with double digit ratings heading into your late newscast- even if it is getting displaced later than usual. Unlike the two most recent Olympics in Sochi and London many of these events will be live as Rio is just one hour ahead of EDT. The exposure your station will get in all day parts with different audiences means in addition to your loyalists plenty of roving loyalists and switchables will be in play.

Coming off the acrimony of the presidential campaign the Olympics can be a time to bring people together- a little patriotism can go a long way especially given that Rio (Aug 5-21) comes right after the GOP and Democratic conventions in July.  Rio is also taking place as many communities start up the new school year too- offering a great platform to image your brand. Certainly a BIG, bold, patriotic feel in your promotions and social posts makes good sense to bolster your image in these fractured times. To help you capitalize on the event on all platforms here are 10 opportunities to consider:

1. Late newscasts- Stick with the key focus areas and make sure it is urgent and quick paced to help them forget about the close finish in the USA basketball game. Accentuating your commitment to NEW, NOW and NEXT is more important than your strategy of potentially including TSRs. Some nights that might include a highly produced cold open that hooks viewers to watch multiple stories and others you will want to jump right into the Big Story as quickly as possible.

2. AM News- The Olympics provides a gold mine for our morning news with enhanced sampling from people who may never see your mornings but left the station on NBC after the night before. Consider a separate look or area to present this information each morning to help set up my day to sample Olympics on every platform. Be my Olympics companion in the morning.

3. BIG Breaking News-  Any decision to air breaking news rather than Olympic coverage obviously must be taken with an acute sense that safety and security are compromised. In previous Olympics stations have had to grapple with incoming hurricanes or large scale violence. How would you handle those?  

If you plan on covering Olympic Coverage for Breaking News, ask yourself this question: “Can we run a crawl to alert viewers so that they can get the information without turning away from our station?”

There are a multitude of options today including keeping Olympics in a big box with a small box with your major breaking news interruptions(s), alerting viewers it is available on a sister station, live streaming in your station app and website and Facebook LIVE or a combination of those solutions.  Remember, many news viewers (including female switchables) want you to be nimble and not interrupt the one program they’ve waited all day to watch.

4. Olympic Inventory- By now you should already have mapped out what local avail(s) you have for promotion. Gone are the days where NBC provided a slot for stations to do a mini newscast but the latest missive from NBC lays out the following information for station breaks- subject to network reconfiguration:
 - 1st Interior = :15 NP/ 2:30 LA
 - 2nd Interior = :15 NP/ 2:30 LA
 - 3rd Interior = :15 NP/ 2:30 LA
 - 4th Interior = :30 NP/ 1:30 LA
 - 5th Interior = :30 NP/ 1:30 LA
 - 6th Interior = :15 NP/ 2:00 LA
 - 7th Interior = :30 NP/ 1:30 LA
 - 8th Interior = :15 NP/ 2:00 LA
 - 9th Interior = :30 NP/ 1:30 LA
 - 10th Interior = :30 NP/ 1:30 LA
 - 11th Interior = :30 NP/ 1:30 LA
 - Terminal = :16 NP/ 1:04 LA

5. IMAGE promotion- Whether you are launching a new brand or solidifying an existing one this is a great time to underscore your key drivers. Consider the weather message you want to tether to homes with children heading to school or how to underscore your promise to keep folks safe during the still ongoing hurricane/tropical season. Elevating your anchors’ profiles with what the Olympics means to them is another way to have patriotic feel rub off on your station brand. 

6. IMAGE building- Some stations are using this period to launch new franchises or to make their key franchises like consumer or investigative highly visible.  Consider the following for your TSRs:

- PM anchors doing at least one special report with strong emotional appeal
- AM anchors (including weather) doing one special report for late news to provide unique exposure and an associated social media tether to the AM
- Anchor team reports- pick a subject and break it off into parts for each anchor either in two distinct halves or woven together
- Story tone- “triumph over tragedy” can work or a combination of advocacy/civic pride focused on positive direction- but not SOFT!

7. Mobile Alerts- Determine your push threshold- what constitutes a push alert- a gold medal for the US? Local athletes only? Be aggressive without being annoying. Pushing during primetime to remind viewers that the Olympics broadcast is starting or when major events are set to begin seems appropriate. Remember too that by now many mobile users are good at silencing their phones and dismissing alerts they don’t care about. But this is no time to go dark so be sure someone in your newsroom on every shift is ready to push the latest breaking Olympics news. Some stations have even assigned a push producer 24.7.   

For morning plan one push alert each morning around 5:45 or 5:55 am that simply states something like “Full Olympic developments while you slept> swipe to open app and watch the (your brand) morning newscast LIVE right now.”         

Consider letting the viewer decide if they want to know a result by being creative in how you write the alert. For example “Just in: medals awarded in men’s basketball. Swipe or click to see the full results and winners.” But, also keep in mind that in the last summer Olympics in London NBC conducted research that indicated that people who knew the results for a big event were actually more likely to watch that event. The caveat here is that London was a heavily time shifted Olympics for US  viewers.

8. Facebook- The opportunities for engagement here are endless but here are a few areas to consider:
 - Start crowdsourcing now on Facebook with local athletes who are headed there or may already be in Rio. Same goes for friends and family of local athletes who are participating. Can you deputize them to send pics or participate in a station Facebook Live?
 - Ask the viewers to like the station Facebook page for details on the games and when events are starting.
 - Remember the Olympics is full of powerful images from athlete images to beautiful people to bloopers. NBC produces powerful slide shows that you can surface in Facebook either as links or just powerful images that fans will want to share.
 - Sending out daily memes with strong images, powerful emotion or a congrats along with bold text and that are shareable should be a daily goal.
 - This is an opportunity to expose your sports team – perhaps not regularly visible on your Facebook feed and to get them and a news anchor to provide a daily Facebook LIVE dimensioning the events and the upcoming events that evening while answering fans; questions.     
 - Let’s make it clear to all anchors and mets that they are expected to fill their feed with Olympic images, thoughts and programming alerts.  
 - A daily unique graphic to emphasize the Olympic schedule can be a shareable asset you can mention on-air, put on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat if you have a station account.  Again, encourage the anchors to increase your reach on this one by sharing it, too.             

9. Instagram- If you’re one of the many stations that hasn’t done much yet with Instagram this can be a small step into bolstering your efforts to reach younger viewers. The same kind of material you are putting on Facebook should work well here- videos, images and memes.

10. Viewing parties- The Olympics can be a broader and in person social experience, too. Are you prepared to expand the viewing with your community? Maybe watching the pivotal US basketball final with your local university basketball stars or even setting up a viewing party at that local university? Will any station sponsors jump on board to provide sandwiches or food for you to feed the first 100 people that show up for a gathering you have put together? Do you have a separate studio that can house 50 people to watch? Maybe a school would open up its gym for a viewing party? Think out of the box on how to make an impression on a slice of your community with your patriotic Olympic supportive efforts.