Barr Touts Stations’ Coronavirus Innovations

Graham Media Group President and CEO Emily Barr credits local GMs, news directors and sales leaders with spinning up creative and inspiring efforts to pull their markets through the crisis.

When talking about crisis leadership, Graham Media Group President and CEO Emily Barr is quick to distribute credit across the company.

I am completely in awe of what these people at the television stations have been doing,” Barr says. “The level of innovation, caring and commitment for their communities has been second to none. I could give you a laundry list of the kinds of things that they have created out of whole cloth both from a news coverage standpoint and from a sales standpoint.”

Barr isn’t kidding about that list.

Among her highlights is independent WJXT Jacksonville, Fla., which has launched a graduation coverage series called Brightest and Best. In it, 43 area schools will get their own on-air graduation specials totaling some 35 programming hours including parents’ congratulatory messages.

Another is WKMG Orlando, Fla., and its Make Ends Meet series. “They were really just trying to help people understand how to spread their money a little further when individuals are concerned about income going down,” Barr says. When a local woman’s precarious financial situation was profiled on air, that prompted a retired couple to donate their federal stimulus checks to help her through. That, in turn, led to a chain reaction of profiles and stimulus check donations, Barr says, totaling $25,000 of donations and growing.

“That to me is the essence of local television that you can make these connections in a way that really does make a difference in people’s lives,” Barr says, citing KPRC Houston as another instance. The station has teamed with Astros third baseman Alex Bregman’s Alex’s Army to raise $2 million for local food banks.

BRAND CONNECTIONS

Barr points to other pandemic-era offerings from a Trust Index where viewers can get information verified to The Something Good Show, a group-wide effort to highlight positive stories coming out of the crisis.

Such efforts “knit the communities together in a time of great anxiety and great fear,” she says. “It’s not me designing these things. It is what they are doing at the local level that is really making all the difference.”

For more, read TVN’s Executive Session Q&A with Barr here.


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