Back to School

What does back to school time mean to you and your station? For number one stations it means an exciting opportunity to connect with viewers throughout the region. While too many stations confuse back to school with features on backpacks and bus stop forecasts starting up again, smart stations realize that back to school isn’t just about the kids ending their summer break but a fundamental change to the market. 

Back to school is back to five important developments that smart stations take full advantage of: 

1. Back to School
Certainly there are a big set of stories to be had with back to school, ones that touch almost every part of the station from sales to news, from traffic to weather to the sports department.   Smart stations realize that back to school coverage isn’t just aimed at busy parents but recognizes that schools (including colleges and universities) are big employers in the region, are one of the biggest tax spends by local governments, and a new school year speaks to key issues facing the community such as drug abuse, gun violence, and other important issues that often benefit from the station’s investigative team taking a closer look, creating stories that are timely, relevant and speak to the entire market, not just parents. 

2. Back to Traffic
When schools start up again, the entire traffic rhythm of the region picks up. With road construction and repairs often still underway, this can lead to major delays and complications for people getting to schools and workplaces. Smart stations realize that back to school is the perfect time to re-establish their traffic leadership by demonstrating the capabilities they have, the knowledge of the streets near schools, and their concerns around road dangers from new drivers on the road to school bus safety. Owning these first days of big traffic can put stations in the drivers seat for the rest of the fall and winter season when “getting there” is often a top local concern. 

3. Back to Schedules
Back to school signals not just the end of summer vacations for children but is the beginning of the many families with and without children returning to work and to the routines that will continue until the holiday break. Smart stations realize that this shift changes the pace of the audience and gives people what they need to make the decisions of this time of year. They are forward looking, providing people with the information they need to plan their busy day ahead and help the viewers make the most of valuable weekends this fall.  

4. Back to TV Time
School starting up signals the start of the fall season. Smart stations plan ahead for the return of their top shows and prioritize the new shows that they want to support. For many of these stations, key dates on the calendar include the beginning of football so that they can start to build anticipation throughout the station and by extension, their entire community for big games that will be on their air. These smart stations recognize that there are so many video options out there today, they have to make their best fall programming an “event” for their community.  

5. Back to Habits
All of the above reflect one critical need for local media – to re-establish their place in the daily routine of their audience. Viewers who were busy traveling or out of pattern during the summer (something many markets see in their ratings PUT measurement) won’t necessarily return to the same habits of watching morning, early evening, or late newscasts unless given specific encouragement.  Smart stations never stop promoting and reaching out to viewers all year round but recognize that back to school gives them a period where they need to make special efforts to retain their own viewers and recruit viewers who may have broken the habit of watching another station.  

If you need back to school ideas, want to sharpen up your traffic presentation, want to help your team be the best at preparing viewers for the day ahead, need plans for how to make prime time and big games events in your market, or develop promotional strategies shaped by research to help reinforce the habit of viewing your station’s newscasts, reach out to your SmithGeiger consultant.