Turn the red-hot consumer demand for the latest gadgets into promotions that generate buzz and viewers for your station.
Last week I reported from the Consumer Electronics Show and Macworld Expo and for TV stations hoping to cash in on the next wave of media gadgets, the news was daunting. It appears that the electronics industry is willing only to help those who help themselves.
OK, no problem. After all, TV station sales departments are famously entrepreneurial. So to get you started, here are five practical strategies for shaking some real life revenue out of cutting edge new media and the latest consumer gadgets.
1. Giveaways and contests: High-definition TVs have become a popular contest prize (see the Nov. 6, 2006, Market Share), but here’s a way to ratchet up the excitement. In addition to a bunch of “average” HDTVs, give away one Sharp Aquos 65-inch LCD TV (model LC-65D90U). This 1080P widescreen behemoth is the largest HDTV you can buy, and at nearly 10 grand, it had better be.
Or, go to the opposite size extreme and offer the best of the super small screens. Offer your viewers a chance to be the first in town to own a red-hot $600 Apple iPhone when it debuts in June. Start negotiating now with your local Cingular/AT&T provider and maybe you can even create a “special edition” that comes loaded with episodes from your station’s top shows as well as a special video greeting from your news team.
2. Product placement and partnerships: A growing number of stations require reporters to do double duty as videographers. Why not support those efforts with some creative cross-promotion? The brand new Nokia N93 looks more like a video camera than a cell phone and no wonder. It captures motion at a full 30 frames per second of “DVD-link quality”—a quantum improvement over previous phone-bound video cameras, and more than adequate to grab credible b-roll on the go. Nokia charges $700 for the unlocked version, but expect to pay less once it’s announced by U.S. carriers. More likely, money will flow back to you in exchange for daily mentions on your newscast. And there’s no need to wait. Because it offers connectivity via GSM/Edge, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB connector, there are already lots of ways to get both calls and video back to the station.
3. Extend your range: Is your newscast on Apple’s iTunes or on YouTube? If not, get busy! Upload a whole half-hour if you must, though few people will bother to download it. A better strategy is to create an original twice-daily local headline summary. If you already produce cut-ins for Today or GMA, you’re halfway there. Both YouTube and iTunes restrict their videos to “noncommercial” use, so self-contained ads are out—although you can provide the same service with billboards and ads using your own station site. And think of the possibilities for reaching specialty audiences. One example: how about a weekly local news summary written for middle school students and linked to the public school curriculum? Every station knows sponsors that would sponsor production, distribution and advertising of that service.
4. Viewers on air: With all those digital and video cameras out there you’d think that viewers would yawn at the prospect of appearing on air. Apparently not, since just about every live shot features a handful of civilians waving at the lens. There’s still something magic about appearing on broadcast TV and we should do all we can to encourage it with creative ways to feature viewers on camera. No, not those Katie Couric-style “Speak Out” messages. The format’s too long and pontificating kills the magic. You have to keep it simple by inviting viewers to perform simple stuff like the day’s high temperature or even something as corny as a birthday greeting. Just keep inviting them to send it in via cell phone or webcam, and get a local communications or hardware vendor to sponsor it. One caveat: be sure to dress up this segment with consistent music and graphics, so you control the overall look and feel.
5. Media clinics: Many stations run promos encouraging viewers to grab their video cameras “when you see news happen.” Often that footage is barely usable because the people who shot it have no idea what they’re doing. Therein lies a promotional and sales opportunity. Why not draw on your station’s technical expertise to hold video clinics in conjunction with Best Buy, Circuit City or the local electronics store? The emphasis can be on shooting amateur news, but may work even better with a general lesson on shooting and editing better home videos. Since most electronics vendors are experienced in getting suppliers to pay for promotions, this could be a big annual win-win for you and the advertiser.
Each of these five ideas could easily spark five more. If you give any of them a try, let us know so we can make you the topic of a future Market Share column.
Market Share by Arthur Greenwald is a series on successful station promotions that appears every week. We’re on the lookout for other good ideas for increasing local audience and revenue. If you have one (or more) to share, please contact Arthur Greenwald at [email protected].